Sydney QF: (8) Belinda Bencic vs Ekaterina Makarova
An interesting quarter-final match-up at the Apia International in Sydney will see Belinda Bencic and Ekaterina Makarova go head-to-head for the very first time. This is good early season opportunity for both ladies to reach a premier level semi-final and a good challenge with the Australian Open just around the corner, both should be eager to display their best tennis in this match.
Belinda Bencic is having a reasonable week in Sydney after a surprise early round exit in Brisbane last week where she was defeated by Samantha Crawford in the second round. The Swiss rising-star started her Sydney campaign with a topsy-turvy battle against the always dangerous Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Bencic managed to navigate her way to a 7-6 1-6 6-4 victory. In the second round, Bencic recorded a 6-3 6-3 victory over former champion Tsvetana Pironkova. Bencic has had moments in each match where she has really dropped her intensity, she will be unable to afford a similar lapse against a player like Makarova.
Ekaterina Makarova’s progression through to the quarter-finals has been as easy as it gets for a premier level event. The Russian cruised past lucky-loser Lucie Hradecka 6-2 6-1 in the first round to set up a second round clash with Angelique Kerber. However, the German was forced to withdraw from the event due to illness, handing Makarova a spot in the quarter-finals. Makarova is one of few players left in the draw that are very fresh and will be eager to play as many more matches as possible before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open
This should be a really close match between two seemingly even players. I suspect Ekaterina will have the slight edge here because she is fresher and will perhaps be more motivated to win this match. Makarova is also a little more consistent and stable throughout matches. Bencic has already played a decent amount of tennis over the last couple of weeks and has had some small injury worries this week in Sydney.