Anastasija Sevastova vs Varvara Lepchenko, Australian Open R1 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(14) 🇱🇻 Anastasija Sevastova vs 🇺🇸 Varvara Lepchenko

Anastasija Sevastova will head into the 2018 Australian Open with the highest seeding just has had at a Grand Slam event. The 14th seeded Latvian will begin her campaign at Melbourne Park with a potentially dangerous opening round clash against Varvara Lepchenko. The head-to-head record between the pair heading into this clash is split at 1 win apiece.

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Anastasija Sevastova made a very positive start to the season in Brisbane. The Latvian made it to the semi-final stage without dropping a set, claiming wins over Samantha Stosur, Sorana Cirstea and Aleksandra Krunic. Unfortunately for Sevastova she surprisingly beaten by Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the semi-finals. Sevastova then travelled to Sydney where she was comfortably beaten by Dominika Cibulkova in the opening round.

Varvara Lepchenko was eliminated in the second round in both of her events in the lead up to the Australian Open. Lepchenko beat Mona Barthel in both Auckland and Hobart. However, Lepchenko was beaten in straight sets in the second round on both occasions, beaten by Sofia Kenin in Auckland and Monica Niculescu in Hobart.

The only completed match between the pair took place on grass in Mallorca last year, it was Sevastova that won 6-7 6-1 6-3. Sevastova will hoping for a more comfortable victory this time around.

Garbine Muguruza vs Varvara Lepchenko, U.S Open R1 Preview

US Open, 🇺🇸🍎🗽🚕 R1 Preview + Prediction
(3) 🇪🇸 Garbine Muguruza vs 🇺🇸 Varvara Lepchenko

Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza will kick-start proceedings on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2017 U.S Open on Monday morning. Muguruza will come up against Varvara Lepchenko, an opponent who’s best can be a challenge to most players. Muguruza is the form player heading into this year’s U.S Open and the rightful favourite to win the title. It will be interesting to see how the Spaniard handles the expectations in New York, this should be a fairly straightforward start for the 3rd seed.

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Varvara Lepchenko vs Shuai Zhang, Australian Open R3 Preview

Australian Open R3: Varvara Lepchenko vs (Q) Shuai Zhang

Shuai Zhang has been the biggest giant-killer at this year’s Australian Open. The Chinese qualifier has advanced to the third round courtesy of two stunning upsets over Simona Halep and Alize Cornet. Zhang’s Australian Open campaign continues on Saturday night when she takes on the experienced American Varvara Lepchenko in a third round clash.

Varvara Lepchenko has made a reasonable start to the season, showing good form in Brisbane where she reached the quarter-finals and is now into the third round at Melbourne Park for the second year in a row. Lepchenko advanced through to the third round courtesy of a three set victory over Lesia Tsurenko and a straight set victory over Lara Arruabarrena. Lepchenko now has a wonderful chance to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career when she comes up against a Chinese qualifier on Saturday night.

 

This has been the best week of Shuai Zhang’s career. Prior to this week the Zhang had a 0-14 record in Grand Slam main draws, she has certainly exceeded all expectations this week to come through qualifying and reach the third round. Zhang started the week by producing the biggest upset of the tournament thus far with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Simona Halep before backing up that victory impressively well to upset Alize Cornet 6-3 6-3. It must be said that Cornet played very poorly in that match.

Lepchenko won the only previous encounter between the pair, 5-7 6-4 6-1 victory in Eastbourne back in 2014. I suspect Lepchenko will again be too good for Zhang and finally end her miracle run in Melbourne. This will be a very different match for Zhang, she will not be allowed to dictate play like she was in her first two matches this week, I highly doubt she is going to be able to produce another upset here. Lepchenko is very experienced and will see this as a massive opportunity, I doubt she will waste it.

Prediction: Varvara Lepchenko to defeat Shuai Zhang in 2 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs Varvara Lepchenko, Brisbane R2 Preview

Brisbane R2: (2) Garbine Muguruza vs Varvara Lepchenko

Garbine Muguruza will begin her 2016 season on Wednesday when she comes up against American Varvara Lepchenko in the second round of the Brisbane International. This is a potentially dangerous opening match for Muguruza, it will be interesting to see how the Spaniard deals with the situation.

Garbine Muguruza had an outstanding season in 2015, reaching her first WTA Finals campaign, her first career Grand Slam final and reaching a career high ranking of number 3 in the world. The Spaniard will want to maintain a similarly high level in 2016 and avoid a big letdown which can often happen after such an amazing year. Muguruza had started off her year very well in Australia over the last 2 years and will be hoping for similarly strong results this summer, starting in Brisbane.

 

Varvara Lepchenko kick-started her 2016 campaign with a stunning 6-2 6-1 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova on Sunday. The American served very well in her opening match, winning over 80 percent of points behind her first serve and was also lethal from the baseline against a very competent opponent. Varvara seems to enjoy the quick conditions in Brisbane, the American made a surprise run to the semi-final stage of the event in 2015.

Garbine won the only previous encounter between the pair, a 6-4 6-1 victory at Wimbledon last year. Muguruza has an extremely good record against left-handed opponents in recent times, winning her last 6 matches against lefties including victories over Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova.

This will not be easy for Garbine, Lepchenko is a difficult opponent to play first up. It will be difficult for Garbine to find her range early but ultimately I think she will be good enough to fight her way past the American who often struggles to close out matches against top quality opponents.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Varvara Lepchenko in 3 sets

Varvara Lepchenko vs Victoria Azarenka, U.S Open R4 Preview

U.S Open R4: Varvara Lepchenko vs (20) Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka has a wonderful opportunity to reach the quarter-final stage at Flushing for the fourth consecutive year on Monday when she comes up against American Varvara Lepchenko. Conversely, Varvara Lepchenko will be aiming to reach her first career Grand Slam quarter-final.

Varvara Lepchenko is into the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the very first time in her career. The American has made the most of a relatively favourable draw, beginning her week with straight set victories over Kirsten Flipkens and Lesia Tsurenko. Varvara advanced to the fourth round with a typically gutsy three set victory over Mona Barthel. Lepchenko made a terrible start but recovered to record a 1-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

 

Victoria Azarenka is in fine form this week, continuing to build momentum in New York. The Belarussian picked up routine straight set victories over Lucie Hradecka and Yanina Wickmayer in her first two matches before recording a stunning three set victory over Angelique Kerber to advance to the fourth round. Vika’s 7-5 2-6 6-4 victory over Angelique Kerber was particularly impressive. In one of the best matches of the tournament thus far Azarenka blasted 51 winners past the German whilst committing just 33 unforced errors in a high quality performance.

Azarenka holds a 3-0 head to head record over Lepchenko. In their most recent encounter, the Belarussian recorded a 7-6 6-4 victory in Birmingham earlier this year. Azarenka has suffered some poor losses after big victories this year and will need to be extremely focused on Monday against an opponent capable of causing an upset. Azarenka is on a mission this week and doesn’t look like slipping up in a match like this.

Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Varvara Lepchenko in 2 sets

Varvara Lepchenko vs Karolina Pliskova, Stanford SF Preview

Stanford SF #1 Varvara Lepchenko vs (4) Karolina Pliskova

The first semi-final at the 2015 Bank of the West Classic in Stanford sees the unseeded American: Varvara Lepchenko take on the fourth seeded Karolina Pliskova. Varvara and Karolina have had contrasting seasons, this will be Lepchenko’s second semi-final of the year, whilst Pliskova will be competing in her sixth semi-final of the year.

Varvara Lepchenko reached her second consecutive semi-final in Stanford with an impressive 6-7 6-2 6-3 victory over Mona Barthel. Lepchenko looked to be struggling physically and it seemed doubtful that she would be able to come back from a set down. However the American dug deep, producing some inspiring tennis to get the better of a determined Mona Barthel in a tick under two and half hours.

 

Karolina Pliskova’s route to the semi-finals has been far more straightforward. Pliskova moved relatively comfortably through to the final four with straight set victories over Kimiko Date-Krumm and Ajla Tomljanovic. Pliskova’s serve has unsurprisingly been her biggest weapon, the Czech hasn’t been broken yet this week, saving all nine break points she has faced.

Pliskova will enter this match full of confidence. Karolina has a perfect 2-0 head to head record over Lepchenko. Their most recent encounter came in the Seoul Final last year, Pliskova prevailed in a tight one, 6-3 6-7 6-2.

 

All signs point to a Pliskova victory on Saturday. Karolina will be the fresher of the two, having only played two matches this week (both ending in straight sets). Whilst Lepchenko has already played 2 gruelling three setters and looked to be struggling physically throughout her quarter-final victory. Pliskova is more consistent and more reliable and should come through this one.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Varvara Lepchenko, 2 sets

Varvara Lepchenko vs Mona Barthel, Stanford QF Preview

Stanford QF: Varvara Lepchenko vs Mona Barthel

Surprise quarter-finalists Varvara Lepchenko and Mona Barthel will go head to head for a place in the semi-finals at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford. Both ladies will feel like this is a massive opportunity to reach the semifinals of a premier level event.

After reaching the semi-finals in Stanford last year, Varvara Lepchenko has continued her impressive record at the Bank of the West Classic. The American entered this event on the back of 6 straight defeats but has really turned things around. Lepchenko survived an extremely tight opening round battle with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, before picking up her first top 10 victory of the year with a 6-4 6-2 triumph over an injury hampered Caroline Wozniacki.

 

Mona Barthel has kicked off her 2015 U.S Open series in style, advancing to the quarter-finals in Stanford with an extremely hard-fought 5-7 6-2 7-6 victory over compatriot Andrea Petkovic. Barthel played superb tennis in the final set tiebreaker, outlasting Petkovic in a gruelling encounter. Mona’s victory over Petkovic was arguably her greatest win this year, her only other major win came against Eugenie Bouchard in Antwerp.

Lepchenko and Barthel have met on two previous occasions, the head to head record is split at one win apiece. Their most recent encounter took place at last year’s U.S Open, Lepchenko recorded a comfortable 6-4 6-0 second round victory.

 

This is another tough match to call, both Mona and Varvara are very inconsistent, anything could happen in this one. Nerves could become a real factor, whoever is able to handle the occasion better will be in the drivers seat. I have to give the slight edge to Lepchenko courtesy of her strong recent performances in Stanford.

Prediction: Varvara Lepchenko to defeat Mona Barthel in 3 sets

Caroline Wozniacki vs Varvara Lepchenko, Stanford R2 Preview

Stanford R2: (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs Varvara Lepchenko

After receiving a bye into the second round, Caroline Wozniacki will kick-start her 2015 U.S Open Series on Thursday when she comes up against Varvara Lepchenko at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford. Surprisingly, Wozniacki will be making her first ever appearance in Stanford this week.

Wozniacki was typically consistent throughout the first half of the season, however the Dane was unable to make any real impact in the first three Grand Slams of the year. Wozniacki will now be extremely driven to perform well during this year’s U.S Open series in the lead up to her most successful Grand Slam. Wozniacki will have the added pressure of defending finalist points at this U.S Open after reaching her first Grand Slam final in New York last year.

 

Varvara Lepchenko broke a string of 6 consecutive losses on Wednesday, just sneaking past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in a tight opening round match. Lepchenko came from a set down to record a 3-6 6-2 7-6 victory. The American seems to enjoy playing on the zippy courts in Stanford, Varvara had a good run to the semi-finals last year. Varvara will need to bring her best tennis on Thursday if she is to reverse an extremely poor record against Wozniacki.

Wozniacki holds a perfect 4-0 head to head record over Lepchenko. The American has only managed to win one set against the Dane in their previous four encounters. In their most recent match, Wozniacki thrashed Lepchenko 6-0 6-1 in Miami last year.

 

It’s somewhat surprising that Lepchenko has struggled so much against Wozniacki. Varvara does have weapons to cause the Dane problems, however her ability to sustain a high enough level for long enough is highly doubtful against the rock-solid Wozniacki. Varvara’s recent form suggests that she is unlikely to have much joy in this one, Wozniacki will be too good.

Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Varvara Lepchenko in 2 sets

2015 Bank of the West Classic Stanford, Tournament Preview

2015 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford - Tournament Preview

After three weeks of random international events around the globe, the tour heats right back up with the beginning of the 2015 U.S Open Series. The Bank of the West Classic in Stanford is the first of four premier level events in the lead up to the final Grand Slam of the year in New York. This is always one of the most exciting periods of the season.

The Bank of the West Classic has once again attracted a reasonably strong field, 8 top 20 players will be in action in Stanford this week. However defending champion Serena Williams was forced to withdraw from the event with a right elbow injury, a major blow for the tournament. Late wild cards, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska will now enter the tournament as the top two seeds.

 

A new champion will be crowned this week in Stanford, there are no former champions in the draw. Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber are the only two ladies to have reached the final.

The first quarter of the draw is headlined by the number one seed, Caroline Wozniacki. Surprisingly, this will be the Dane’s first ever appearance in Stanford. Caroline’s quarter of the draw is littered with dangerous opponents. The world number 5 will receive a bye into the second round where she will face either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or Varvara Lepchenko, two potentially dangerous first up opponents.

Caroline is projected to meet Andrea Petkovic in the quarter-finals. The German faces a tough opening round challenge, coming up against compatriot Carina Witthoeft. A second round clash with Mona Barthel is likely to await the winner. The quarter-final clash between Caroline and Andrea seems likely.

 

Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys are the two seeded players in the second quarter of the draw. Both ladies are right in the mix to reach the WTA Finals for the first time. Pliskova will receive a bye into the second round where she is likely to run into Sabine Lisicki in what would be an exciting second round match-up.

1st Half Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki def. Sabine Lisicki 

Madison Keys plays Aleksandra Krunic in the first round and could come up against Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round. A tricky draw for the American.

The third quarter of the draw features Carla Suarez Navarro and Elina Svitolina. Suarez Navarro has been one of the most consistent performers this year and is also on track to reach the WTA finals for the first time in her career. This is another great opportunity for Carla to pick up some more points, Carla receives a bye into the second round before facing either Alison Riske or Tatjana Maria for a spot the final 8.

 

Elina Svitolina is one to watch out for during the US Open series. Elina faces a qualifier in the opening round before a potential showdown with fellow rising start Caroline Garcia in the second round.

The final quarter of the draw is arguably the strongest as it features two of the tournament favourites, Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber. Radwanska should cruise into the final 8, the Pole receives a bye into the second round where she will face either CiCi Bellis or a qualifier.

Angelique Kerber’s passage to the final 8 will be a little more difficult, the German faces Daria Gavrilova in a tough opening round matchup before a potential clash with Ana Konjuh in the second round. Aga and Angie are both quite experienced in Stanford and should set up a mouth-watering quarter-final match-up.

2nd Half Prediction: Aga Radwanska def. Carla Suarez Navarro

 

Caroline Wozniacki and Aga Radwanska aren't the strongest and most ruthless top seeds, but I fancy both to reach the final. Wozniacki’s biggest threat is likely to come in the semi-finals against either Madison Keys, Sabine Lisicki or Karolina Pliskova. The Dane has always performed well on the North American hard courts and things shouldn't be any different here. Whilst Aga’s biggest threat is clearly Angelique Kerber, I would give Aga the slight edge given her positive record over Angie.

Final Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Caroline Wozniacki

Serena Williams vs Varvara Lepchenko Preview – US Open Third Round

(1) Serena Williams vs Varvara Lepchenko

Serena Williams will come up against a fellow American for the third time is as many matches when she faces Varvara Lepchenko for a spot in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.

The world number 1 raced through her opening two matches in New York. Serena’s biggest challenge in her second round 6-1 6-0 demolition of Vania King was the wind. Serena’s serve was a little shaky in her first service game as she struggled to deal with the gusty conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium; she served three double faults but still managed to hold. Once Serena quickly adjusted to the conditions, Vania didn't stand a chance. Serena blasted 25 winners on route to wrapping up the match in just under an hour.

 

Varvara Lepchenko progressed through to the third round with a comprehensive 6-4 6-0 victory over Mona Barthel. Lepchenko has had some decent results in last couple of weeks, especially in Stanford where she defeated Agnieszka Radwanska and pushed Kerber to her limits. However it’s difficult to see her putting up much of a fight against a determined Serena Williams.

Serena has a perfect 2-0 record over Lepchenko, on both occasions Lepchenko has managed to win just three games. Serena will be looking to continue to build momentum by heading into the second week with another comprehensive straight set victory.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Varvara Lepchenko In 2 sets