(2) Maria Sharapova vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska
Fridays opening match sees Maria Sharapova take on Agnieszka Radwanska in what is a crucial clash in terms of how the white group will end up.Despite losing her first two matches in Singapore, Maria Sharapova can still progress through to the semi-finals. If Maria is to win in straight sets whilst Caroline Wozniacki beats Petra Kvitova in straight sets, Maria will progress through to the semi-finals
For Radwanska, if she wins this match and Caroline Wozniacki defeats Petra Kvitova, the Pole will finish 2nd in the group and progress to the semi-finals. If Kvitova loses in straight sets, Radwanska can still qualify without defeating Maria, so long as she takes a set of Sharapova. If Radwanska and Kvitova both win, this is where things get a little complicated, especially if they both win in the same amount of sets. If this occurs, it will come down to the difference in total games won.
After an impressive first up victory over Petra Kvitova, Radwanska suffered a disappointing straight sets loss to Caroline Wozniacki on Thursday afternoon, going down 5-7 3-6. Radwanska started the match off really well, dominating proceeding at the net and successfully using her trademark backhand drop shot on numerous occasions. Radwanska lead 3-1 and had a chance to hold for 4-1 however Wozniacki somehow managed to break before leveling the set at 3-3. Radwanska was the one looking to be aggressive, however she soon started to go for too much. Wozniacki would break in the 11th game before successfully holding to take the opening set 7-5 in over an hour.
Wozniacki was always in control of the second set after breaking in the third game. Radwanska did offer some resistance midway through the set where she leveled the set at 3-3. At 3-5 Radwanska was forced to serve to stay in the match, she committed four lazy unforced errors and was broken to love. It was an extremely disappointing finish to the match, especially after Aga started the match so well. Aga ended the match with 31 unforced errors, this proved to be the difference in the end.
Maria Sharapova was demolished by Petra Kvitova on Thursday evening, getting blown off the court in a 3-6 2-6 loss. Maria started the match off well enough, breaking to take a 2-0 lead. However from there it was all Kvitova, Petra went on to win 12 of the next 14 games. Whilst Maria may not have been at her best, credit has to go to Petra who played unstoppably well for large periods of the match. Maria will be desperate to turn things around against Aga on Friday, an opponent she has dominated in the past.
Maria Sharapova has a dominant 10-2 head-to-head record over Agnieszka Radwanska. The two have met on two occasions already this season, however both were on clay (a surface that certainly favors Maria). Maria cruised through both matches in straight sets. Despite the one sided head-to-head record, these two have competed in a number of tough three set matches, especially on hard courts. The slow indoor conditions will suit Aga.
Maria's poor performances have been really surprising, I expected Maria to challenge for the title this week however that seems highly unlikely at this stage. This is a tough match to call, but I think Aga will ultimately grind out a three set victory.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Maria Sharapova in 3 sets