Maria Sharapova vs Flavia Pennetta, WTA Finals RR Preview

WTA Finals RR: (3) Maria Sharapova vs (7) Flavia Pennetta

Maria Sharapova will continue her quest for a 2nd WTA Finals title on Thursday when she comes up against Flavia Pennetta in the final match from the red group. Interestingly enough, Flavia Pennetta is the only player in Singapore that has a positive head-to-head record over Maria.

Maria currently sits on top of the red group and will finish on top with a victory over Pennetta. It is still possible for Maria to miss out on the semi-finals, if she is to lose to Flavia in straight sets and Simona defeats Radwanska in straight sets. Pennetta needs to win in straight sets to secure her spot in the semi-finals, if she wins in 3 sets she will be relying on Radwanska to defeat Halep.


Maria Sharapova has been the stand out performer so far in Singapore, recording back-to-back victories against the odds. Maria started the week by claiming her first victory since Wimbledon, a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win over Agnieszka Radwanska. Sharapova backed up that performance with an equally impressive 6-4 6-4 win over Simona Halep, maintaining her perfect record over the Romanian. Perhaps Maria’s biggest test will come on Thursday when she comes up against an opponent she has lost to 3 times in a row.

Flavia Pennetta rebounded superbly from her convincing straight loss to Simona Halep on Sunday with an extremely impressive 7-6 6-4 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska. Pennetta played her best match since New York, her backhand was on fire and her serve was well above its usual standard. Pennetta ended the match with 37 winners to just 23 unforced errors. Flavia will be confident heading into her match with Sharapova given her recent record over the Russian however she is also bound to be nervous considering this may well be the last match of her career.


Flavia Pennetta holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Sharapova, the Italian has the won the 3 most recent encounters between the pair. Their only recent match was earlier this year at Indian Wells, Pennetta came from a set down to claim a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory.

This is a potentially tough match to call, especially considering Sharapova will know before the match that she doesn’t need to win in order to qualify for the semi-finals. Sharapova will secure her spot in the semi-finals by winning a set against Pennetta. Despite this, I think Sharapova will be motivated enough to get the job done here, Maria has been at her fierce best this week and will not want to flirt with her form. Furthermore Maria will not want to slump to a 4th consecutive loss to Flavia. Maria should be too powerful for an emotional Pennetta.

Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Flavia Pennetta in 2 sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Flavia Pennetta, WTA Finals RR Preview

WTA Finals RR: (5) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (7) Flavia Pennetta

Tuesday’s first match from the red group will be a virtual elimination match when Agnieszka Radwanska come up against Flavia Pennetta. Aga and Flavia both lost their opening group matches on Sunday, meaning a loss on Tuesday would make it almost impossible to qualify for the semi-finals. Aga and Flavia have built up a competitive rivalry over the last couple of years, splitting their four most recent encounters.


Agnieszka Radwanska squandered a wonderful opportunity to claim a rare victory over Maria Sharapova on Sunday night, succumbing to a 6-4 3-6 4-6 defeat. The Pole played a magical first set, coming up with multiple trademark trick shots. However Aga was unable to maintain her high level for long enough, making a slow start to the second set and allowing Sharapova to grow in confidence. The third set was extremely close and could have really gone either way but Aga would once again stumble at the finish line. Aga has a chance to redeem herself on Tuesday and keep her WTA Finals campaign alive by defeating Pennetta, an opponent she has traditionally done pretty well against and should match up well against.

Flavia Pennetta made a really disappointing start to her first WTA Finals campaign on Sunday, suffering a comprehensive 0-6 3-6 defeat to Simona Halep. Flavia never really looked settled and ended the match with 27 unforced errors and just 11 winners. Flavia will need to significantly raise her level on Tuesday if she is to record a victory and keep her Singapore campaign alive. Flavia will take some confidence into this match having comprehensively defeated Radwanska twice last year.


Aga holds a 5-3 head-to-head record over Pennetta, however Pennetta has won 2 of the last 3 encounters between the pair. Pennetta famously thrashed Radwanska 6-2 6-1 in the final at Indian Wells last year. It was Radwanska who won the most recent match, a comprehensive 6-1 6-1 victory in Doha earlier this year.

Although both ladies lost in their opening group matches, Radwanska was clearly more impressive in defeat. The slow, dead courts in Singapore really don’t suit Flavia, she is likely to struggle to find ways to hit through Radwanska on this match. Aga’s form in the lead up to this event has been far more encouraging and with her spot in the tournament on the line I suspect she will too good for Flavia.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Flavia Pennetta in 2 sets

Simona Halep vs Flavia Pennetta, WTA Finals RR Preview

WTA Finals RR: (1) Simona Halep vs (7) Flavia Pennetta

The group stages of the 2015 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore commence on Sunday afternoon when 2014 runner-up Simona Halep takes on U.S Open champion Flavia Pennetta. This looms as a critical match for the top seeded Romanian, Flavia has a dominant 4-1 head-to-head record over Simona, including a crushing 6-1 6-3 victory at the semi-final stage of the U.S Open a couple of months ago. Simona will be desperate to avenge that loss and make a winning start in Singapore but Flavia will be confident heading into this match and will fancy her chances given the head-to-head record.


Simona Halep enters her first match in Singapore with a big question mark surrounding her form and fitness. The Romanian struggled throughout the Asian swing, clearly hampered by an achilles injury. Simona suffered a bizarre quarter-final loss to Allertova in Guangzhou where she was the top seed before giving up a 5-1 third set lead to lose to Johanna Konta in Wuhan. Simona tried to compete in Beijing despite the injury, but didn’t manage to complete a set, retiring in her first round match. The good news for Simona is that she has had a couple of weeks off and a good amount of time in Singapore to get used to the conditions. The Romanian is still one of the favourites this week, especially considering how well she played at the event last year.

Flavia Pennetta will be competing in her very first WTA Finals campaign, in what will be the Italian’s last tournament of her career. Flavia shouldn’t be underestimated, her U.S run showed exactly what she is capable of, playing some stunning tennis on route to claiming her first career Grand Slam. However her form after the U.S Open was less than convincing, highlighted by a humiliating first round loss to Lyudmyla Kichenok in Tianjin. Flavia has had limited time to adjust to the conditions in Singapore, having just arrived at the event from Moscow. Simona will present a big first up challenge for the Italian.


As mentioned above, Flavia Pennetta holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Simona Halep. The Italian thrashed Halep 6-1 6-3 at the U.S Open, Simona was clearly not at her best in that match and may have been hampered by injury but Flavia did play very well and certainly has the game to trouble Simona. The Romanian did win the only other match between the pair in 2015, a 6-3 7-5 win in Miami. 

This should be a pretty close match, both ladies are bound to be pretty nervous heading into this match and may take a while to get into their rhythm and adjust to the conditions. I’m going to side with the Romanian top seed, I think Simona would have been really hurt by her semi-final loss to the Italian and will be eager to avenge that loss. Simona has had a good amount of time to prepare for the event and get used to the conditions, the slower conditions in Singapore really suited Simona last year so I expect her to be a little too solid for Pennetta on this occasion. It will be hard for Pennetta to hit through Simona on a surface like this.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Flavia Pennetta in 3 sets

WTA Finals Singapore: Elite 8

(1) Simona Halep

Titles: Shenzhen, Dubai, Indian Wells

WTA Finals Record: F: 2014

Best Victory: U.S Open QF vs Victoria Azarenka 6-3 4-6 6-4

Worst Loss: Roland Garros R2: vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 5-7 1-6

Simona Halep enters her second WTA Finals campaign as the top seed. The 2014 runner-up has had a season full of ups and downs. The Romanian started the year in outstanding fashion, claiming titles in Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells. However the Romanian’s season will be remembered by her shocking early round losses at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Simona regained her early season form during the North American swing, highlighted by runner-up appearances in Toronto and Cincinnati before reaching the semi-finals in New York. The Romanian’s form during the Asian swing was lacklustre ad plagued by an Achilles injury. After a couple of weeks off and a solid practise block in Singapore, Simona is certainly one of the main contenders this week. Simona seemed to enjoy the Singapore surface last year and will enter the event with great memories after her demolition of Serena Williams during the group stage last year.


(2) Garbine Muguruza

Titles: Beijing

WTA Finals Record: First appearance

Best Victory: Wimbledon SF vs Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 3-6 6-3

Worst Loss: U.S Open R2 vs Johanna Konta 6-7 7-6 2-6

Garbine Muguruza enters her first WTA Finals campaign as one of the form players at the event. The Spaniard was the clear standout during the Asian swing, reaching the final in Wuhan before claiming the biggest title of her career in Beijing. Muguruza generally performance well at the Grand Slam level, highlighted by her first Grand Slam final appearance at Wimbledon. Garbine has established herself as a big-time player, she certainly seems to rise to the occasion and will be one of the main contenders in Singapore.


(3) Maria Sharapova

Titles: Brisbane, Rome

WTA Finals Record: Champion: 2004, F: 2006, 2011, SF 2005, RR: 2014, 2012, 2007

Best Win: Wimbledon QF vs CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3 6-7 6-2

Worst Loss: Mimi R1 vs Daria Gavrilova 6-7 3-6

Maria Sharapova’s season has been plagued by injury and illness, however the Russian still managed to record some solid results and did well to finish 3rd in the Race to Singapore despite missing a number of tournaments including the U.S Open. Maria started the year off extremely well in Australia, claiming the title in Brisbane before succumbing to Serena Williams in a competitive final at the Australian Open. Maria also reached the semi-final stage at Wimbledon despite a limited preparation before once again succumbing to Serena Williams. Maria missed the majority of the Asian Swing because of an arm injury and will therefore be one of the freshest of the elite 8 in Singapore, this could work in her favour. Maria has a positive record against everyone at the event except against Flavia Pennetta.


(4) Petra Kvitova

Titles: Sydney, Madrid, New Haven

WTA Finals Record: W: 2011 SF: 2013 RR: 2014, 2012,

Best Victory: Madrid SF vs Serena Williams 6-2 6-3

Worst Loss: Wimbledon R3 vs Jelena Jankovic 6-3 5-7 4-6

Petra Kvitova will be competing in her 5th consecutive WTA Finals campaign this year. Kvitova’s form during 2015 was surprisingly consistent. Petra didn’t have too many disastrous losses and generally competed well at the biggest events. The Czech’s season was highlighted by her surprisingly good results during the clay court season where she defeated Serena Williams on route to the title in Madrid. Petra’s results during the grass court season were much worse than expected, suffering a very disappointing 3rd loss to Jelena Jankovic. Petra was diagnosed with Mononucleosis prior to the North American summer, in spite of this Petra did very well to claim the title in New Haven and reach the Quarter-finals in New York for the first time. Unfortunately, Petra was unable to continue that solid form in Asia but the former champion has a wonderful chance to end her season on a high in Singapore


(5) Agnieszka Radwanska

Titles: Toyo, Tianjin

WTA Finals Record: SF: 2014, 202 RR: 2013, 2011, 2009 & 2008

Best Victory: Tokyo F vs Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-2

Worst Loss: Roland Garros R1 vs Annika Beck 2-6 6-3 1-6

Agnieszka Radwanska will be making her 5th consecutive appearance at the WTA Finals. The Pole’s early season partnership with Martina Navratilova was a failure, Aga’s struggles were highlighted by an early round loss to Heather Watson at Indian Wells and a disastrous first round loss to Annika Beck at Roland Garros. Aga turned her season around during the British summer, reaching the final in Eastbourne and semi-finals at Wimbledon. It was during the Asian swing that Aga produced her best tennis, claiming titles in Tokyo and Tianjin without dropping a set. The Pole arrives in Singapore full of confidence, this looks like a good opportunity for Aga to claim the biggest title of her career.


(6) Angelique Kerber

Titles: Charleston, Stuttgart, Birmingham, Stanford

WTA Finals Record: RR: 2013, 2012

Best Win: Stuttgart R2 vs Maria Sharapova 2-6 7-5 6-1

Worst Loss: Australian Open R1 vs Irina-Camelia Begu 4-6 6-0 1-6

Angelique Kerber has had a strange season, claiming an impressive 4 titles at the premier level but failing to reach the second week at a Grand Slam. Kerber was successful on every surface and has been part of several epic matches this year. Most of the best matches this year have featured the German. Kerber was dealt tough draws at Grand Slams, twice running into a red-hot Garbine Muguruza before losing to a determined Victoria Azarenka in New York. Angie played a lot of tennis during the Asian swing and looks to be stumbling into Singapore after clearly suffering from injury in the Hong Kong final a last week. Nevertheless, Angie remains a huge threat this week, she has a good time to recover and has a good record against most of the elite 8 and will be one of the main contenders this week.


(7) Flavia Pennetta

Titles: U.S Open

WTA Finals record: First appearance

Best Win: U.S Open SF vs Simona Halep 6-1 6-3

Worst Loss: Tianjin R1 vs Lyudmyla Kichenok 3-6 5-7

Flavia Pennetta will end her career in style by competing in her first career WTA Finals campaign. It has been a fairy-tale couple of months for the Italian who stunned the tennis world in New York where she defeated Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep on route to her first Grand Slam title. Flavia’s early season form was poor, highlighted by first round losses at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. The Italian’s form in the lead up to New York was also quite poor, her victory in New York really came out of nowhere. Flavia struggled to re-group during the Asian swing but she did enough to reach Singapore. Flavia will be looking to end her career on a high in Singapore, anything is possible.


(8) Lucie Safarova

Titles: Doha

WTA Finals Record: First appearance

Best Victory: Doha F vs Victoria Azarenka 6-4 6-3

Worst Loss: Miami R1 vs Johanna Larsson 6-7 2-6

Lucie Safarova’s season started off in horrible fashion with a first round loss to Yaroslava Shvedova at the Australian Open. The Czech recovered from that loss in Doha where she claimed the biggest title of her career. Lucie’s greatest result came at Roland Garros, reaching her first Grand Slam final, eventually succumbing to Serena Williams in a tough 3 set match. Lucie’s form deteriorated as the season went on, having a disappointing grass court season before being struck down by a bacterial infection which stopped her from competing during the Asian swing. Lucie returned to the courts in Linz and Moscow but suffered two first round losses, Lucie seems to have lost a lot of weight and muscle and looks like the weakest link in Singapore.


This promises to be a very exciting, competitive week of tennis in Singapore. There numerous legitimate potential champions this week, a wonderful opportunity for everyone to claim the biggest title outside of the 4 Grand Slams. 

Flavia Pennetta vs Daria Gavrilova, Moscow R2 Preview

 Moscow R2: (3) (wc) Flavia Pennetta vs Daria Gavrilova

Flavia Pennetta’s Kremlin Cup campaign will begin on Wednesday when she comes up against Daria Gavrilova in the second round of the Kremlin Cup. Flavia Pennetta is one of four ladies in Moscow that are fighting for the two remaining positions at next week’s WTA Finals in Singapore. Pennetta’s destiny is in her own hands, she is currently 8th in the live race and must keep winning to remain ahead of the chasing pack, otherwise she will be relying on other results to qualify.

Flavia Pennetta has struggled since the U.S Open. The Italian stunned the tennis world by claiming her first career Grand Slam at flushing Meadows but was unable to make an impact during the Asian Swing. Pennetta laboured through to the third round in Beijing before losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Things got much worse for Pennetta in Tianjin, suffering a humiliating straight set loss to the world ranked 414 Lyudmyla Kichenok. With a good amount of time to prepare in Moscow, Pennetta should be much closer to her best this week as she looks to reach the WTA Finals for the first time in her career.


Daria Gavrilova’s form has deteriorated in the later stages of the season, arriving in Moscow having lost 7 of her last 10 matches. Daria did make a positive start to her Kremlin cup campaign on Tuesday, picking up an extremely hard-fought 3-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Alize Cornet. Gavrilova seems to rise to the occasion when she comes up against a better credentialed opponent, she will enjoy having a crack at the reining U.S Open champion and potentially ending her career.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair, it promises to be an entertaining match. I suspect Flavia Pennetta will be good enough to get the job done here, this is a critical match for the Italian who would have been very embarrassed by her loss in Tianjin and will be desperate to rectify that result and keep her Singapore chances alive. Pennetta does most things better than Gavrilova and her maturity could be a big factor in what should be a close match.

Prediction: Flavia Pennetta to defeat Daria Gavrilova in 2 sets

Belinda Bencic vs Flavia Pennetta, Cincinnati R2 Preview

Cincinnati R2: Belinda Bencic vs Flavia Pennetta

Belinda Bencic will be looking to pick up her eighth win in a row when she comes up against Flavia Pennetta in the second round at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday.

After beating 4 top 10 players (Williams, Halep, Wozniacki & Ivanovic) on route to the biggest title of her career last week at the Rogers Cup, Belinda Bencic advanced to the second round in Cincinnati for the very first time in her career with an impressive 7-5 6-3 victory over Angelique Kerber. In a battle of two of the most in form players on tour, it was Bencic who seemed more focused and surprisingly more energetic. Bencic remained solid for most of the match whilst Angie seemed to check out of the match at stages, especially at the end of the second set.


Flavia Pennetta advanced to the second round with a hard fought 7-5 6-2 over Dominika Cibulkova, her sixth consecutive victory over the Slovakian. Pennetta’s ability to play the big points well was the difference in this one, the Italian saved 14 of 16 break points, an impressive effort against one of the best returners on tour.

In their only previous encounter, Flavia Pennetta defeated Bencic 6-2 2-6 6-3 in Rome last year. Bencic has improved significantly since that match and she will extremely confident heading into this one. The biggest question mark heading into this match is how much energy does Bencic has left in the tank? Bencic has played 7 matches in a week and a bit and could hit a wall at any stage. There have been no signs of Bencic running out of energy so I think her winning streak will continue on Wednesday. Pennetta hasn’t picked up any notable victories of late and will find it difficult to hit through Bencic.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Flavia Pennetta in 3 sets

Flavia Pennetta vs Dominika Cibulkova, Cincinnati R1 Preview

Cincinnati R1: Flavia Pennetta vs Dominika Cibulkova

After impressive results in 2014, Flavia Pennetta and Dominika Cibulkova have both struggled in 2015. Pennetta’s form has been up and down whilst Cibulkova yet to get going after a long spell on the sidelines. Both ladies have thrived on the North American hard courts in the past and will be looking to gather some momentum in Cincinnati with the final Grand Slam of the year just around the corner.

Flavia Pennetta has struggled for consistency in season 2015, unable to replicate her 2014 heroics. The Italian’s Rogers Cup campaign was cut short by Serena Williams last week. Pennetta advanced to the second round with a comfortable victory over Dabrowski, setting up a meeting with the world number 1. Flavia took the first set of a sluggish world number 1, however Flavia was no match for Serena once she got going, failing to win a single game in the final set.


Dominika Cibulkova broke a string of four consecutive losses last week with a solid 6-3 6-4 victory over Sloane Stephens in the opening round at the Rogers Cup. It was a promising performance by the Slovakian however she was unable to back it up in the next round. Domi was surprisingly outplayed by Alize Cornet in the second round, suffering a disappointing 3-6 2-6 defeat.

In one of the most bizarre head to head records on the tour, Flavia Pennetta has won the last five encounters against Cibulkova. However the pair haven’t played each other since 2012. Cibulkova will be eager to avoid a sixth consecutive loss to the Italian. This is a tough one to call, but given the head to head record and the Slovakian’s recent struggles, I have to go with Pennetta to grind out a tough victory.

Prediction: Flavia Pennetta to defeat Dominika Cibulkova in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs Flavia Pennetta, Toronto R2 Preview

Toronto R2: (1) Serena Williams vs Flavia Pennetta

Serena Williams is scheduled to kick-start her on U.S Open Series campaign on Tuesday where she will come up against Flavia Pennetta in the second round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

It’s no secret that Serena Williams is having an outstanding season and is currently dominating the WTA tour. The world number 1 is as determined as ever, having won all three Grand Slams this year and has lost just one match (to Petra Kvitova in Madrid). After completing the ‘Serena Slam’ at Wimbledon, the American’s next goal to complete the ‘Calendar Slam’ by winning the U.S Open. But first, Serena will have her eyes set on claiming a 4th Rogers Cup title this week in Toronto.


Flavia Pennetta booked a second round showdown with Serena Williams by defeating Gabriela Dabrowski 6-4 6-1 in the first main draw match at the 2015 Rogers Cup. Pennetta was tested by the unheralded Canadian in the opening set but the gulf in class and experience became more evident in the second set as the Italian ran away with a comfortable victory.

Flavia Pennetta has a good record on the North American hard courts, having won the BNP Paribas Open last year and also making the quarter-finals at the U.S Open where she was defeated by Serena Williams. Pennetta is one to look out for over the next couple of months.


Serena Williams has dominated Flavia Pennetta in the past, the world number 1 holds a perfect 6-0 head to head record over the Italian. Flavia has only managed to claim one set over Serena in their six previous encounters. Serena twice defeated Flavia in 2014, both in two relatively straightforward sets, 6-2 6-2 in Cincinnati and 6-3 6-2 at the U.S Open.

Serena has had a couple of injury concerns since Wimbledon, however all that seems to be behind her. The world number 1 is on a mission and it’s impossible to see anyone stopping her.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Flavia Pennetta in 2 sets

Elina Svitolina vs Angelique Kerber, Stanford SF Preview

Stanford SF #2 (8) Elina Svitolina vs (5) Angelique Kerber

After a breathtaking victory over Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-finals, Angelique Kerber faces Elina Svitolina for a place in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic Final. This promises to be yet another entertaining and very physical match between two fierce competitors.

Elina Svitolina advanced to the semi-finals courtesy of her second come from behind victory of the week. The Ukrainian came from a set down to defeat Bondarenko in the opening round and repeated the effort with a 4-6 7-5 6-1 victory over Alison Riske on Friday.


Angelique Kerber cruised through her opening two matches in Stanford, defeating Gavrilova and Konjuh in straight sets. Angie’s quarter-final victory over Agnieszka Radwanska was anything but easy. Kerber produced some scintillating tennis to defeat the Pole 4-6 6-4 6-4 in arguably the match of the year thus far. Radwanska came up some ridiculous shots, but it wasn’t enough to get past the German.

It was a typically gutsy Kerber victory. The German has been involved in several epic matches this year, she has emerged victorious on every occasion.


The head to head record is perfectly poised heading into this match, split at two wins apiece. Kerber won the first two meetings between the pair whilst Elina has won the last two. In their most recent encounter, Svitolina prevailed 4-6 7-6 6-3 in Brisbane earlier this year. Angie was total control of that match but lost the plot as Svitolina came roaring back to win.

This is going to be a tight match, a battle between two very similar players. Expect to see some gruelling rallies in what should be a very physical match. Normally I would say Angie has the clear edge, but it will not be easy for her to back up after her victory over Radwanska with such little time to rest. I still think Angie will have the slight edge, she has shown that she is able to recover from tough matches and will need to dig deep to win this one. Kerber’s ability to be more aggressive gives her the edge.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Elina Svitolina in 3 sets

Maria Sharapova vs Flavia Pennetta, Indian Wells R4 Preview

Indian Wells R4: (2) Maria Sharapova vs (15) Flavia Pennetta

Flavia’s Pennetta’s title defense will come under threat on Tuesday afternoon when she comes up against second seed, Maria Sharapova at the BNP Paribas Open. Flavia has kicked of her title defense in style with two commanding victories but will face a much tougher test when she comes up against an in form Maria Sharapova.

After defeating Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets in the second round, Maria reached the fourth round with a commanding 6-4 6-3 victory over arch rival, Victoria Azarenka. The difference in the end was Maria’s ability to sustain a high intensity for the whole match, whilst Azarenka was not quite ready to compete at such a high level.


Sharapova’s serve was wayward in the opening set, hitting five double faults in one game to hand Azarenka the first break of the match. Sharapova rallied to win 3 straight games and claim an extremely hard fought opening set. Azarenka seemed to lose her concentration in the second set and Sharapova capitalised to take a 5-1 lead. The Russian had trouble closing out the match as Vika played some unbelievable tennis, but eventually Maria got the job done on her sixth match point.

Despite making a poor start to the season, Flavia Pennetta has looked very confident in her title defense at the BNP Paribas Open. Flavia kick-started her campaign with a comprehensive straight set victory over Madison Brengle before keeping her perfect record over Sam Stosur alive with a an impressive 6-4 6-2 victory.


The head to head record between Flavia and Maria is split at 2 wins apiece. Flavia Pennetta has won their two most recent encounters, however the two hasn’t played since 2011 so their head to head record is somewhat irrelevant. Flavia shocked Maria third round of the 2011 US Open with a 6-3 3-6 6-4 victory in their most recent meeting.

Sharapova has been in ominous form this year, it will take an almighty performance by the Italian to cause what would be a major upset despite the head to head record. I expect this to be a highly competitive match, Pennetta may even take a set off Maria but ultimately Maria should prevail.

Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Flavia Pennetta in 3 sets