Karolina Pliskova vs. Bianca Andreescu, Shenzhen RR Preview

???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
?? (2) Karolina Pliskova vs. ?? (4) Bianca Andreescu

A critical clash from the purple group sees the second seeded Karolina Pliskova take on the fourth seeded Bianca Andreescu. Pliskova and Andreescu were both defeated in their opening group stage matches, meaning this is virtually an elimination match. Andreescu upset Pliskova in Toronto earlier this year in their only previous meeting, can Pliskova avenge that loss or will Andreescu’s variety be too much for Pliskova to handle?

Karolina Pliskova has been one of the most consistent players over the last few seasons and has won more titles than any other player in 2019. However, Pliskova continues to struggle against the very best, her poor recent record against top 10 opponent was extended on Day 2 in Shenzhen as she was defeated by Elina Svitolina in straight sets, a 6-7 4-6 loss for the Czech. Pliskova had her chances in a lengthy opening set before eventually succumbing 12-14 in a tiebreak. There were enough promising signs to suggest Pliskova can bounce back in Shenzhen.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic practices ahead of the 2019 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Bianca Andreescu was extremely close to make a winning start in her WTA Finals debut. Andreescu held match point to claim a straight set win over Simona Halep but couldn’t convert and was eventually overrun by the Romanian, a 6-3 6-7 3-6 defeat for Andreescu. The Canadian complained about a back injury after her defeat to Halep but it is hard to know how much to read into that given she always seems to have an excuse after a loss. Andreescu has a strong record over top 10 opponents in 2019 so she will still have hope that she can move through the group stage.

It was Andreescu who won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-0 2-6 6-4 victory at the Rogers Cup earlier this year.

I’m going to side with Pliskova here. The Indoor conditions seemingly suit Pliskova’s game, the Czech played a good match against Svitolina but some unforced errors in critical moments cost her the match. Pliskova’s first strike tennis has the ability to take control away from Andreescu, the Canadian isn’t as strong when defending and is seemingly losing some steam as a long season comes to an end. Pliskova therefore seems in better shape heading into this match and is seemingly favoured by the conditions.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Bianca Andreescu in 3 sets

Bianca Andreescu vs. Simona Halep, Shenzhen RR Preview

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?? (4) Bianca Andreescu vs. ?? (5) Simona Halep

A blockbuster match-up on Monday from the WTA Finals Shenzhen sees Bianca Andreescu and Simona Halep go head-to-head for the very first time. This is an extremely exciting match-up for many, one that has been eager anticipated for a while. It will be interesting to see how the much-hyped game of Andreescu stakes up against the mighty Simona Halep.

Bianca Andreescu is the youngest and least experienced player in the draw but heads into the tournament as the favourite according to most experts. Andreescu has taken the tennis world by storm in 2019, the Canadian was recently on a stunning streak of 27 consecutive victories in completed matches, that streak was snapped in her most recent match when she was defeated by Naomi Osaka in the Beijing quarter-finals. It will be interesting to see how Andreescu performs over the next week, this is unprecedented territory for her.

Bianca Andreescu of Canada practices ahead of the 2019 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Simona Halep will be competing in the WTA Finals for the 6th consecutive season, the longest active streak of anyone on tour, a real credit to the Romanian’s consistency and toughness. However, of all the players in the draw it is Halep who probably brings the weakest form into the event. Halep hasn’t won back-to-back matches since the Rogers Cup having failed to win back-to-back matches in her last 4 events. Nevertheless, the reigning Wimbledon champion is experienced enough to flick the switch for the final tournament of the year,

I’m going to side with Halep here. This feels like a match-up where Halep has a point to prove and unlike most players on tour, I don’t think Halep will be severely troubled by the versatility of Andreescu from the baseline. Andreescu doesn’t have the outright power to totally overpower Halep so the Romanian will get herself into extended rallies where she is likely to have the edge in this match-up. A disciplined Halep can expose Andreescu physically.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Bianca Andreescu in 3 sets

Belinda Bencic vs. Bianca Andreescu, US Open SF Preview

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?? (13) Belinda Bencic vs. ?? (15) Bianca Andreescu

A pair of maiden Grand Slam semi-finalists will go head-to-head for the second spot in the 2019 US Open final when the 13th seeded Belinda Bencic comes up against the 15th seeded Bianca Andreescu. This will be the first career meeting between Bencic and Andreescu, it will be interesting to see how this matchup pans out with so much at stake. Andreescu’s strong recent form means she heads into this match as the favourite but Bencic is the more accomplished player and will fancy her chances here.

Belinda Bencic navigated her way through the first week of the tournament quite easily, Bencic cruised past Mandy Minella in 2 sets before winning a topsy-turvy 3 set clash with Alize Cornet. Bencic received a walkover into the fourth round when Anett Kontaveit withdrew from their third round match. The 13th seed has stepped up her game in the last few matches to reach the final 4 at a Grand Slam for the first time, a 7-5 6-4 win over the top ranked Naomi Osaka followed by a 7-6 6-3 win over Donna Vekic suddenly gives Bencic a very real chance to go all the way in New York.

Bianca Andreescu continues to get the job done. Andreescu has become a third set specialist in 2019, she has won 11 consecutive matches that went the distance. The Canadian’s latest third set triumph booked her a spot in a maiden Grand Slam semi-final when she came from a set down to defeat Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3. Andreescu has won a couple of 3-time matches in a row in New York having defeated Taylor Townsend in 3 in the fourth round. It was a simple progression for Andreescu through the first week of the event with straight set wins over Katie Volynets, Kirsten Flipkens and Caroline Wozniacki.

I’m going to side with Belinda Bencic. I think Bencic has what it takes to end Andreescu’s winning streak. Mertens outplayed Andreescu in the opening set of their quarter-final clash, the strong, disciplined, flat hitting of Mertens got the better of Andreescu as she was able to move Andreescu side-to-side and open up the court, Bencic can execute a similar game and should be able to sustain a high enough level to get the job done. Bencic is slightly more solid off both sides of the court and seems to be in better shape physically heading into this match. Andreescu’s backhand can be exposed and her fitness may also be exposed by Bencic.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Bianca Andreescu in 2 sets

Angelique Kerber vs. Bianca Andreescu, Indian Wells Final Preview

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?? (8) Angelique Kerber vs. ?? (WC) Bianca Andreescu

Angelique Kerber and Bianca Andreescu will both be playing in a premier mandatory level final for the very first time when they meet in Sunday’s final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Whilst this is an opportunity at a maiden premier mandatory title for both, there is obviously a huge gulf in class between the pair heading into this match. Kerber is a 3-time Grand Slam champion and former world number 1 whilst Andreescu’s greatest triumph came at the WTA 125K level, this is easily the biggest match of Andreescu’s young career.

Angelique Kerber of Germany in action during her semi-final at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Angelique Kerber has had a topsy-turvy week in the Californian desert to reach her first BNP Paribas Open final. Kerber certainly hasn’t always been at her best but is peaking at the right time as she looks to claim her first title of the season. Kerber came through a couple of sloppy matches midway through the event against Vikhlyantseva and Sabalenka but has really upped her game in her last few matches in impressive straight set wins over Venus Williams and Belinda Bencic to bring a heap of momentum in Sunday’s final.

Angelique Kerber’s route to the final:

R1: (BYE)
R2: Putintseva 6-0 6-2
R3: (Q) Vikhlyantseva 3-6 6-1 6-3
R4: (9) Sabalenka 6-1 4-6 6-4
QF: V. Williams 7-6 6-3
SF: (23) Bencic 6-4 6-2

Bianca Andreescu continues to defy the odds. Andreescu’s run to the final in Indian Wells is amazing when considering that this is her first time competing in a WTA premier mandatory event. Andreescu has won a whopping 27 matches in 2019, more than any other player on tour. Importantly, Andreescu has beaten several top level players, including wins over Dominika Cibulkova, Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina this week. Andreescu’s semi-final win over Elina Svitolina was particularly impressive given how hard she had to work for that win against a tough opponent.

Bianca Andreescu of Canada in action during her semi-final at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Bianca Andreescu’s route to the final:

R1: Begu 6-7 6-3 6-3
R2: (32) Cibulkova 6-2 6-2
R3: (Q) Voegele 6-1 6-2
R4: (18) Q. Wang 7-5 6-2
QF: (20) Muguruza 6-0 6-1
SF: (6) Svitolina 6-3 2-6 6-4

This will be the first career meeting between Kerber and Andreescu. It will be interesting to see how the 18-year-old’s game stacks up against the might of Angelique Kerber and also whether the Canadian can handle the occasion in the biggest match of her career.

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Elina Svitolina vs. Bianca Andreescu, Indian Wells SF Preview

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?? (6) Elina Svitolina vs. ?? (wc) Bianca Andreescu

A pair of first-time BNP Paribas Open semi-finalists will go head-to-head on Friday when the 6th seeded Elina Svitolina takes on Canadian wild card Bianca Andreescu. This will be the first career meeting between Svitolina and Andreescu, it will be interesting to see how the Andreescu game stacks up against Svitolina. Andreescu has been the fairy tale story of the tournament thus far but this is arguably her greatest test yet, can the 18 year-old keep her magical run going or will Svitolina be too strong?

Bianca Andreescu of Canada in action during her quarter-final match at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Elina Svitolina has done things the hard way on route to her first semi-final appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. Svitolina received a bye through the first round before coming very close to elimination in her opening match where she fought past Sofia Kenin 3-6 7-6 6-4. Svitolina’s only straight set win this tournament came at the third round stage where she defeated Daria Gavrilova 7-5 6-4. Svitolina then outlasted Barty in a 3-hour epic, the longest match of the season thus far, a 7-6 5-7 6-4 win for the Ukrainian. Svitolina confirmed her spot in the semi-finals with another tough win, a gutsy 4-6 6-4 6-4 win over Marketa Vondrousova. Luckily for Svitolina she got a day off before her semi-final match.

Winning has become a habit for Bianca Andreescu in 2019. Andreescu has won more matches than anyone else on tour in 2019 having already won a whopping 26 matches across all competitions. Andreescu’s level has improved throughout the tournament in Indian Wells. Andreescu started the week with a 3 set win over Irina-Camelia Begu, her only dropped set of the tournament thus far. Andreescu went on to comfortably defeat Dominika Cibulkova, Stefanie Voegele and Qiang Wang in straight sets. Andreescu’s most impressive performance came at the quarter-final stage where she thrashed Garbine Muguruza 6-0 6-1.

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Qiang Wang vs. Bianca Andreescu, Indian Wells R4 Preview

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?? (18) Qiang Wang vs. ?? (wc) Bianca Andreescu

Qiang Wang and Bianca Andreescu will go head-to-head for the first time with a spot in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals up for grabs. This is a huge opportunity for both players to reach the final 8 of premier mandatory event, who will step up and make the most of this opportunity?

Bianca Andreescu of Canada in action during her third-round match at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Qiang Wang has made a mediocre start to the season given her outstanding form towards the end of 2018. However, the recent signs have been better for Wang, perhaps she is rediscovering her late 2018 season form. Wang has had a good couple of weeks in Indian Wells, it all started a few weeks ago at the Indian Wells 125K event where she reached the semi-finals. Wang has claimed a few solid victories on route to the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open, a 7-6 6-2 win over Bernarda Pera followed by a gutsy 7-6 6-7 6-3 win against Elise Mertens.

Bianca Andreescu is in the best form of her career. The 18-year-old is quickly rising up the WTA rankings, she arrived in Indian Wells on the back of a semi-final showing in Acapulco which saw her rise to a career high ranking of 60, one more win for Andreescu this week and she will almost certainly break into the top 50. Andreescu started her BNP Paribas Open campaign with a surprisingly tough 6-7 6-3 6-3 win over Irina-Camelia Begu before cruising past Dominika Cibulkova and Stefanie Voegele in straight sets.

It will be interesting to see how Wang matches up against young Canadian in their first career meeting, especially with so much on the line, will youth or experience prevail?

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