Aryna Sabalenka vs. Karolina Pliskova, Wimbledon SF Preview

🇬🇧 Wimbledon SF: 🇧🇾 (2) Aryna Sabalenka vs. 🇨🇿 (8) Karolina Pliskova

Thursday’s second semi-final from SW19 sees the 2nd seeded Karolina Pliskova take the 8th seeded Aryna Sabalenka. This match-up arguably features the two best players on the WTA tour that have yet to win a Grand Slam title. Sabalenka will be competing in her first major semi-final having never previously reached a major quarter-final before this week. Conversely Pliskova will be competing in her fourth Grand Slam semi-final, having now reached the final 4 at each of the 4 majors.

Aryna Sabalenka’s route to the semi-finals:

R1: def. (Q) Monica Niculescu 6-1 6-4
R2: def. (WC) Katie Boulter 4-6 6-3 6-3
R3: def. (Q) María Camila Osorio Serrano 6-0 6-3
R4: def. (18) Elena Rybakina 6-3 4-6 6-3
QF: def. (21) Ons Jabeur 6-4 6-3

Karolina Pliskova’s route to the semi-finals:

R1: def. Tamara Zidansek 7-5 6-4
R2: def. Donna Vekic 6-2 6-2
R3: def. Tereza Martincova 6-3 6-3
R4: def. (wc) Ludmila Samsonova 6-2 6-3
QF: def. Viktorija Golubic 6-2 6-2

Karolina Pliskova has more clinically progressed through the draw; the Czech hasn’t dropped a set but has certainly had a very favourable draw. Sabalenka has had a couple of her typical lapses but has rallied to beat a couple of quality opponents in the last couple of rounds.

Sabalenka has won both previous meetings between the pair, a 6-3 2-6 7-6 on the grass of Eastbourne in 2018, followed by a 2-6 6-3 7-5 win on the hard courts of Cincinnati in 2019.

I’m going for the upset here. Firstly, Pliskova is more experienced, in general, and more importantly at this stage of a major, that has to count for something. Secondly, Pliskova’s slightly steadier game may prove advantageous in a match that is sure to be full of nerves and played with fine margins. Thirdly, Pliskova has been more consistent this tournament and is less likely to suffer from a mid-match lapse in her level, which could also be key in what should be a close match. It has been a long time coming for Pliskova to win a match like this, she looks to be in a good position to take advantage this time.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Aryna Sabalenka in 3 sets

Ash Barty vs. Angelique Kerber, Wimbledon SF Preview

🇬🇧 Wimbledon SF: 🇦🇺 (1) Ash Barty vs. 🇩🇪 (25) Angelique Kerber

A blockbuster semi-final match-up from SW19 features a pair of former Grand Slam champions as the top seeded Ash Barty takes on 3-time major champion Angelique Kerber. A fascinating match-up between two proven champions, two ladies that are extremely comfortable on the grass, two players full of confidence at the moment, expect a high-quality contest. Who wins?

Neither player has necessarily been at their best for the entire tournament, both dropping sets in the early stages, but both are finding their best form at the business end of the tournament. Barty snapped reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova’s 15-match winning streak in the fourth round before comfortably accounting for Ajla Tomljanovic to book a spot in a maiden Wimbledon semi-final.

Ashleigh Barty’s route to the semi-finals:

R1: Def. Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-7 6-1
R2: Def. Anna Blinkova 6-4 6-3
R3: Def. Katerina Siniakova 6-3 7-5
R4: Def. (14) Barbora Krejcikova 7-5 6-3
QF: Def. Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-3

Angelique Kerber route to the semi-finals:

R1: Def. Nina Stojanovic 6-4 6-3
R2: Def. Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-5 5-7 6-4
R3: Def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich 2-6 6-0 6-1
R4: Def. (20) Cori Gauff 6-4 6-4
QF: Def. (19) Karolina Muchova 6-2 6-3

Angelique Kerber dropped sets to Sara Sorribes Tormo and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first week but has been far more clinical in the second week with commanding straight set wins over Cori Gauff and Karolina Muchova to progress to her 8th Grand Slam semi-final, her 4th at Wimbledon.

Kerber holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Barty, their most recent meeting was at the Hopman Cup at the start of 2019, Kerber won that match 6-4 6-4, much has changed since then. It will be interesting to see how their first meeting on a grass court unfolds, especially with so much on the line.

I’ll be siding with the 2018 Wimbledon champion. This is arguably the worst possible match-up for Barty on a grass court, she faces the best counterpuncher on tour on her favourite surface. If there’s any type of opponent that Barty can struggle with, it’s a top level, consistent baseliner, the Aussie has had problems with players such Sofia Kenin, Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber herself. Kerber’s strengths specifically counter Barty’s strengths. Kerber’s movement, consistency and ability at end range make her a problematic match-up for Barty. Kerber won’t be too bothered by Barty’s versatility, and the Aussie is unlikely to consistently hit through the German enough to get the win. Kerber will be happy to pound away at the Barty backhand and will clinically finish into the open spaces that present. Kerber is more experienced at stage of a major and has shown that she can handle the occasion better than Barty has in the past.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Ash Barty in 2 sets

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Ons Jabeur, Wimbledon QF Preview

Wimbledon QF Preview: (2) Aryna Sabalenka vs. (21) Ons Jabeur

The pick of the quarter-final matchups on Tuesday at SW19 sees the 2nd seeded Aryna Sabalenka take on the 21st seeded Ons Jabeur. Both ladies will be competing in their first Wimbledon quarter-final, both looking to reach a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time.

Aryna Sabalenka made the most of a favourable draw to move through the first week in London, beating a pair of qualifiers and a wild card to make the round of 16 at Wimbledon for the first time. The Belarusian overcame her first major test in the fourth round by beating an in-form Elena Rybakina in 3 sets, belatedly booking her spot in maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.

R1: def. (Q) Monica Niculescu 6-1 6-4
R2: def. (WC) Katie Boulter 4-6 6-3 6-3
R3: def. (Q) María Camila Osorio Serrano 6-0 6-3
R4: def. (18) Elena Rybakina 6-3 4-6 6-3

Ons Jabeur has had one of the toughest draws of all the quarterfinalists, but admirably defeated a pair of Grand Slam champions from a set down to reach her second Grand Slam quarter-final. Jabeur has won more matches than anyone on tour in 2021 having recently won her first singles title on the grass of Birmingham, her confidence is clearly at an all-time high.

R1: def. Rebecca Peterson 6-2 6-1
R2: def. (WC) Venus Williams 7-5 6-0
R3: def. (11) Garbine Muguruza 5-7 6-3 6-2
R4: def. (7) Iga Swiatek 5-7 6-1 6-1

The head-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. It was Jabeur who emerged victorious in the first meeting between the two, a 7-6 2-6 6-3 victory at the third round stage of Roland Garros last year. More recently it was Sabalenka who came out on top with a 6-2 6-4 win on the hard courts in Abu Dhabi. This will be the first meeting between the pair on a grass court and the most important match in their H2H series.

In match-up where both ladies possess great power behind their serves and from the baseline, it is the added versatility and touch to the Jabeur game that should give the Tunisian the edge, especially on a grass court. Jabeur has the ability to unsettle the big game of Sabalenka because of her unpredictability. Sabalenka hasn’t played any opponents with much variety to their game this tournament, that leaves her vulnerable heading into this tricky match-up. Conversely Jabeur is coming off a pair of very difficult victories over opponents that possess similar threats to Sabalenka, seemingly leaving Jabeur very well prepared for this match.

Prediction: Ons Jabeur to defeat Aryna Sabalenka in 3 sets

Belinda Bencic vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova, Berlin QF Preview

Bett1Open – Berlin 500 – QF:
(5) Belinda Bencic vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova

An interesting quarter-final match-up from Berlin on Friday sees the fifth seeded Belinda Bencic come up against the always-dangerous Ekaterina Alexandrova. It is Alexandrova who heads into this clash as the slight favourite with the bookmakers having won the last 2 meetings between the pair. However, Bencic loves playing on grass and is more than capable of winning this match-up.

Both players are competing in their first grass court event of the season, both coming off relatively disappointing second round exits at Roland Garros a few weeks ago. Alexandrova progressed to the final 8 in Berlin with a pair of straight set victories over Anna Kalinskaya (6-3 6-2) and the second seeded Elina Svitolina (6-4 7-5). Meanwhile the fifth seeded Bencic was forced to come from a set down to defeat local wild card Jule Niemeier (4-6 6-47-5) before calmly moving past Petra Martic in straight sets (6-3 6-4).

Alexandrova holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Bencic. Bencic defeated the Russian in their first meeting, a 6-4 6-2 win in Indian Wells back in 2019. Alexandrova avenged that loss a few months later with a 6-7 6-2 6-3 victory in Eastbourne, their only previous meeting on a grass court. Most recently Alexandrova defeated Bencic 6-1 7-5 on clay in Stuttgart earlier this year.

I like Bencic in this match-up, I believe she wins more often than not, especially on grass, despite the recent head-to-head results. The Swiss player is looking good this week after working her way through a tricky opening round match and will be keen to avenge her recent losses to Alexandrova. Bencic absorbs and redirects pace better than most, her ability to take the ball early and rush her opponents is especially effective on grass. Alexandrova likes time on the ball to unwind her big, flat shots, Bencic has the skills to counter this on grass. Alexandrova will need to play at a high level to hit through Bencic, possible, but less likely than likely, value with Bencic as a slight outsider.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Ekaterina Alexandrova in 3 sets
Tip: Belinda Bencic – 2 units @ $2.17 (Pinnacle)

Naomi Osaka vs. Ana Bogdan, Roland Garros R2 Preview

Roland Garros R2: preview + prediction:
🇯🇵 (2) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇷🇴 Ana Bogdan

Naomi Osaka continues her 2021 Roland Garros campaign on Wednesday when she comes up against Romania’s Ana Bogdan. Osaka will be looking to extend her 15-match winning streak at Grand Slam events and equal her best showing at Roland Garros by reaching the third round. Meanwhile Bogdan will be aiming to reach the third round in Paris for the first time having just equalled her best performance at Roland Garros by reaching the second round fort he third time.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during the first round of the 2021 Roland Garros Grand Slam Tournament

Osaka’s decision to skip press conferences at Roland Garros for her mental health has been the biggest story of the tournament thus far. An unfortunate distraction for Osaka, a move that has blown up in her face given all of the negative responses to her decision. The 4-time major champion dealt with the pressure well enough in her opening round win on Sunday as she defeated Maria Patricia Tig 6-4 7-6. Osaka was certainly not at her best and displayed signs of her vulnerabilities on the red clay but was just good enough in the important moments to sneak through. Meanwhile, Bogdan cruised into the second round in Paris with an easy 6-1 6-3 victory over Italian qualifier Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

Osaka was pushed by Tig in the opening round, but it never felt like Tig was quite good enough to beat Osaka, despite the Japanese players vulnerabilities at Roland Garros. Expect it to be a different story on Wednesday, Bogdan is tougher than Tig, and will ask more questions of Osaka. Bogdan has the stamina, attitude and consistent baseline game to draw Osaka into extended rallies, a situation where Osaka’s patience and movement on the red dirt will be tested. Furthermore, the continuing saga surrounding Osaka’s decision to skip press conferences is surely acting as a distraction for the second seed, the outside noise will only amplify her insecurities at this event.

Got to like Bogdan’s odds in this situation, the value is with the Romanian. Osaka is not the same player on clay, she is yet to adapt her game to this surface. Bogdan is very comfortable on clay and isn’t afraid of the big stage, the scene is set for an upset.

Tip: Ana Bogdan – 2 units @ $3.68 (Pinnacle)

WTA 250 Guadalajara – Final Preview

WTA 250 Guadalajara – Final

(4) Sara Sorribes Tormo vs. (wc) Eugenie Bouchard

Form: Eugenie Bouchard is a totally unexpected finalist in Guadalajara. It would have seemed reasonable for the Canadian to bomb out in the opening round after arriving from France just one day before her opening match. Bouchard has played at a decent level, higher than expected, though it must be said that she has had a lot of help from her opponents to get to this stage. None of her opponents have played great tennis, in fact most of them played quite poorly. Sorribes Tormo will be a big step up in opposition for the Canadian, one that will make the Canadian work for every single point, no gifts here. Sorribes Tormo has been extremely solid all tournament and heads into her first ever WTA final fresh from an impressive straight set win over Marie Bouzkova.

H2H: Sorribes Tormo won the only previous meeting between the pair, a 7-6 6-3 victory in 2017. That match was also played on a hard court in Mexico, in Monterrey.

Analysis: I’m going to side with the Spaniard here. I don’t think Bouchard can consistently play at a high enough level to get the better of such a solid opponent, especially under pressure in a final. Bouchard hasn’t played a solid baseline player all tournament, each of her previous opponents have hit a heap of unforced errors, that isn’t going to happen here. Sorribes Tormo plays with the right mix of consistency and versatility to make life very tough for Bouchard, the odds are well and truly against Bouchard winning a 5th match in 5 days.

Pick: Sorribes Tormo – 5 units @ $1.72 (bet365)

 Tips based on a 10-unit betting system

WTA1000 Dubai – SF Betting Analysis

WTA 1000 – Dubai – SF betting analysis

(9) Garbine Muguruza vs. (10) Elise Mertens

Muguruza and Mertens are two of the hottest players throughout the first couple of months of the 2021 season. Muguruza holds a 17-4 head-to-head record in 2021 whilst Mertens has amassed an impressive 12-1 record. The pair both enter this clash battle hardened having both come from a set down in their quarter-final victories. Muguruza overcame a red-hot Aryna Sabalenka 3-6 6-3 6-2, whilst Mertens saved 3 match points in her 5-7 7-5 6-0 win over an in-form Jessica Pegula. This will surprisingly be the first H2H encounter between Muguruza and Mertens in over 4 years, the Spaniard won that match 6-2 0-6 3-6 over an inexperienced Mertens at the US Open in 2016.

I think the slight value is with the Belgian in this semi-final. Muguruza is the rightful favourite but Mertens is very capable in this match-up, she has the right mix of power, defense and versatility to really push the Spaniard. Plus, Mertens heads into this match with essentially nothing to lose given she probably should have been out of the tournament yesterday, often players respond well to winning from match points down. Muguruza has mainly been playing fellow aggressive players in her last few events (Sabalenka X2, Kvitova, Kudermetova, Anisimova), Mertens will present a different challenge, a tougher challenge for the Spaniard, one of the best counterpunchers on tour.

Pick: Elise Mertens – 2 units @ $3.03 (Pinnacle)

Barbora Krejcikova vs. Jil Teichmann

An unexpected semi-final match-up sees Krejcikova and Teichmann both competing in their first SF at this level, a huge opportunity for both to reach a 1000 level final. Both players have stormed into the final 4 without dropping a single set. Not only have the pair not dropped a set, but they have also barely been troubled, Krejcikova has dropped just 11 games in her last 3 matches, whilst Teichmann has only once conceded more than 3 games in a set. Krejcikova easily defeated Teichmann 6-3 6-2 in their only previous meeting, a qualifying match in Ostrava late last year, there will be much more at stake on this occasion.

Key signs are pointing to a Krejcikova victory here. Can’t ignore Krejcikova’s dominant win in their only previous match, given it was also on a hard court, and not too long ago. Krejcikova has been steadily improving and seems ready to make the biggest final of her career. The Czech hasn’t deviated from her solid level all tournament. On a hard court, the consistent but aggressive flat hitting of Krejcikova wins in this match-up more often than not. Some value with Krejcikova as just a slight favourite.

Pick: Barbora Krejcikova – 3 units @ $1.78 (Pinnacle)

* Tips based on a 10-unit betting system:

Dubai Day 3 – Betting Analysis

WTA 1000 – Dubai – Day 3 betting analysis

(2) Karolina Pliskova vs. Anastasija Sevastova

Sevastova holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Pliskova and looms as a tricky first-up opponent for the second seed in Dubai. Pliskova’s form over the last few months and even going back over the last year has been not been convincing, consistently losing in matches where she is favoured to win. This could be another one of those matches. Sevastova’s versatile game is problematic for Pliskova, that has proven to be the case in the past. Sevastova won their most recent meeting in straight sets, that was back in 2017 on clay in Madrid, a while ago but it highlights the problems Pliskova can have here. Sevastova’s recent from has been bad, but she has recently shown some signs that she could be turning things around, it is the Latvian who heads into this match with nothing much to lose, which could also work in her favour.

Pick: Anastasija Sevastova H2H – 3U @ $3.75 (bet365)
(6) Belinda Bencic vs. Veronika Kudermetova

Bencic wins in this match-up more often than not, I believe… she is a class above Kudermetova and always has been. Granted, the H2H advantage is actually in favour of Kudermetova, but I think that is misleading. Bencic is more solid and usually does well in these matchups against big, flat hitters. Bencic absorbs and redirects pace better than just about anyone on tour, that comes in handy in this match-up against Kudermetova who strikes the ball very hard and flat. Bencic made a slow start to the year but showed signs of a form reversal with a run to the final in Adelaide. Bencic is a former champion in Dubai, winning the tournament in 2019, a surface that suits her game well. Surprised to see Kudermetova starting as the favourite here.

Pick: Belinda Bencic H2H – 6U @ $2.1 (bet365)
(12) Marketa Vondrousova vs. Cori Gauff

Gauff is consistently overrated by bookmakers, it has been that way for a while. The value almost always with her opponent, good value with Vondrousova here who should be able to get the job done. Vondrousova is a smart player and is starting to find some good form, she has the solid, versatile game to pick on the weaknesses of Gauff. Vondrousova has a great return of serve, previously ranked at the very top of the tour, while the Gauff serve is very vulnerable, this could be a key factor in this match-up with Vondrousova continually putting pressure on the Gauff serve.

Pick: Marketa Vondrousova H2H – 6U @ $1.8 (bet365)

(3) Aryna Sabalenka vs. Alize Cornet

Sabalenka has lost 2 matches in a row, a position she isn’t used to these days. Sabalenka therefore comes into this match under a bit of pressure, a tough opponent awaits her. Cornet is an awkward opponent for Sabalenka, drop shots, slice, different spins and paces will be used by Cornet to try and draw errors from Sabalenka. Cornet has a history of pulling off surprises in these types of matches and seemingly has a decent chance here with Sabalenka playing her first match of the tournament after receiving a bye in the opening round. Worth a shot at these odds.

Pick: Alize Cornet H2H – 3U @ $5 (bet365)

^ based on a 10-unit betting system.

Petra Kvitova vs. Garbine Muguruza, Doha Final Preview

🇶🇦 Qatar Total Open, Doha – Final Preview + Prediction:
🇨🇿 (4) Petra Kvitova vs. 🇪🇸 Garbine Muguruza

Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza go head-to-head in Saturday’s Qatar Total Open final, a rematch of the 2018 championship match in Doha. It was Kvitova who emerged victorious in Qatar in 2018 and in each of their last 4 meetings. However, it is Muguruza who has been one of the most consistent performers in 2021 and therefore enters this clash as the favourite despite her poor record in this match-up.

Kvitova and Muguruza arrived in Doha in contrasting form. Kvitova had a disappointing Australian summer, defeated by Nadia Podoroska in the second round of the Melbourne warm-up event before losing to Sorana Cirstea in the second round of the Australian Open. Conversely, Muguruza arrived in Doha fresh from a strong showing in Australia, but with unfished business to attend to. The Spaniard reached the final in the Melbourne summer series event, losing to Ash Barty, before reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, succumbing to eventual champion Naomi Osaka from double match point up. Both Kvitova and Muguruza have overcome difficult opponents on route to the final this week, both are in great shape heading into Saturday’s finale.

Petra Kvitova’s route to the final:
R1: BYE
R2: def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-3
QF: def. Anett Kontaveit 6-3 3-6 6-2
SF: def. Jessica Pegula 6-4 6-4
Garbine Muguruza’s route to the final:
R1: def. Veronika Kudermetova 6-2 7-6
R2: def. (3) Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-7 6-3
QF: def. Maria Sakkari 6-3 6-1
SF: def. (8) Victoria Azarenka WALKOVER

Kvitova holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Muguruza. It was Muguruza who won the first meeting between the pair, a 3-set win at the WTA Finals in 2015, Kvitova has won all 4 matches since then, the last 3 were all on a hard court, 2 in straight sets, but most recently a 3-6 6-3 6-4 win in the Doha final in 2018.

Expecting a tight, high quality final. Muguruza’s recent form is stronger but Kvitova has the head-to-head edge. I’m going to side with Muguruza here, she has been impressive over the last month and I don’t believe this is necessarily a bad match-up for the Spaniard despite the negative head-to-head record. If anything, Muguruza should enjoy playing a lefty, her strong backhand gives her an edge in these matchups. Muguruza has shown in recent times that she has the game to handle top level, powerful opponents, a win over the red-hot Sabalenka this week and almost beating Naomi Osaka in Melbourne are proof of that. Kvitova’s form is still questionable despite her run to the final this week, playing an in-form Muguruza is a big step up in opposition.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets

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