Karolina Pliskova vs. Lucie Safarova, Roland Garros R2 Preview

Roland Garros, R2 Preview
?? (6) Karolina Pliskova vs. ?? Lucie Safarova

A fascinating second round clash at Roland Garros on Thursday sees the 6th seeded Karolina Pliskova take on compatriot Lucie Safarova. Pliskova is one of the form players on tour at the moment, the Czech has not usually been considered a great threat on clay but the last 12 months have suggested otherwise. The 2017 Roland Garros semi-finalist looms as a real contender for the title in Paris given her great recent form on clay. Pliskova will face her first big test when she faces Safarova for a spot in the third round.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action during her first-round match at the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Karolina Pliskova started her 2018 Roland Garros campaign with a hard-fought 7-6 6-4 win over Barbora Krejcikova. Pliskova was down in each set, Krejcikova served for the opening set and held a 4-1 lead in the second set so it was a great effort from Pliskova to come through that match in straight sets. Pliskova has now amassed an impressive 11-3 win/loss record on clay in 2018, it is clear that she must be considered a genuine threat on this surface.

Lucie Safarova’s preparations for Paris were not great. Safarova only recently returned to the tour after a 3-month absence due to illness/injury. Safarova was beaten by Hsieh in the second round in Strasbourg last week so it is fair to say there are little expectations of the 2015 finalist in Paris. Nevertheless, Safarova started her 2018 campaign with a solid 6-4 6-1 win over Jessika Ponchet, Pliskova in the next round will be a far greater test.

Pliskova holds a strong 6-2 head-to-head advantage over Safarova. Indeed Pliskova has won 6 of their last 7 matches, including the last 3. Most recently Pliskova claimed a tight 7-6 7-5 win at the Australian Open earlier this year. Whilst Pliskova has a great record over Safarova, their matches are always close and Safarova has actually won 2 of their 3 matches on clay. Can Safarova cause an upset in Paris?

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

CoCo Vandeweghe vs Lucie Safarova, U.S Open R4 Preview

US Open, ????? R4 Preview + Prediction:
(20) ?? CoCo Vandeweghe vs ?? Lucie Safarova

CoCo Vandeweghe overcame a very negative h2h record to advance to the fourth round with a tough three set win over Agnieszka Radwanska. Vandeweghe will need to overcome another negative h2h record if she is to advance to the quarter-final stage in New York. Vandeweghe’s fourth round opponent on Monday will be Lucie Safarova, the Czech holds a 3-1 h2h record over Vandeweghe and has won their 3 most recent matches, including a three set win at Indian Wells earlier this year. This is a huge match for both ladies and we should see a tight contest with minimal break of serves. Who will step up and take this opportunity to reach the quarter-finals in New York. 

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Petra Kvitova vs Lucie Safarova, Birmingham SF Preview

WTA Aegon Classic, ?? Birmingham SF Preview
SF #1: (7/wc) ?? Petra Kvitova vs ?? Lucie Safarova

Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova will go head-to-head for the tenth time when they meet at the semi-final of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham on Saturday. Kvitova has dominated Safarova, winning all nine of their previous encounters, the majority of which have been in straight sets. Safarova will enter this match with nothing to lose having come through two matches this week where she was match points down, with a mindset of having nothing to lose, Safarova is a threat. Nevertheless, Kvitova will enter this match as a big favourite, Petra is full of confidence having not dropped a set this week and will be the fresher of the pair, having spent far less time on court than Safarova.

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Daria Gavrilova vs Lucie Safarova, Birmingham QF Preview

WTA Aegon Classic, ?? Birmingham QF Preview
QF #1: (9) ?? Daria Gavrilova vs ?? Lucie Safarova

Daria Gavrilova will look to square her head-to-head series with Lucie Safarova when the pair meet at the quarter-final stage at the Aegon Classic on Friday in Birmingham. This will be the 6th meeting between the pair, Safarova currently holds a 3-2 record over the Aussie, all five of their previous matches have been on a hard court. Gavrilova and Safarova have both been greatly challenged on route to the final 8 and are seemingly primed to contest an extremely tight, hard-fought encounter with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs. Both Gavrilova and Safarova are coming off first round exits at Roland Garros so will be looking to build momentum ahead of Wimbledon where a similar result would be a disastrous result for both ladies.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs Lucie Safarova, Miami QF Preview

Miami Open, ???? QF Match Preview
(12) ?? Caroline Wozniacki vs ?? Lucie Safarova

An intriguing contest between Caroline Wozniacki and Lucie Safarova will take place at the quarter-final stage of the Miami Open. Caroline Wozniacki is arguably the form player on tour at the moment, the Dane is now into her fourth consecutive quarter-final and has won 15 of her last 18 matches. Lucie Safarova is also in good form, the Czech has breezed through her first four matches in Miami in straight sets and will be a dangerous opponent for Wozniacki.

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Serena Williams vs Lucie Safarova, Australian Open R2 Preview

Australian Open, ?? Second Round Match preview
(2) ?? Serena Williams vs ?? Lucie Safarova

Serena Williams continues her bid for a seventh Australian Open title on Thursday night when she comes up against Lucie Safarova in a dangerous second round match-up. It was only a year and a half ago that these two were playing in the final of Roland Garros, now they meet at the second round stage of a major (courtesy of Safarova’s ranking slip). Williams will be wary of Safarova but will head into this match with a lot of confidence having won all 9 previous matches between the pair.

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Lucie Safarova vs Cagla Buyukakcay, Doha R2 Preview

Doha R2: (7) Lucie Safarova vs (wc) Cagla Buyukakcay

Lucie Safarova will begin her title defense at the Qatar Total Open with a second round clash against Turkish wild card Cagla Buyukakcay. This will be Lucie Safarova’s first match of the 2016 season after being sidelined for the entire Australian summer due to the ongoing effects of a bacterial infection which disrupted the Czech’s second half of 2015. Lucie would usually be a clear favourite in this match-up but is likely to be rusty in her first competitive match for months.

Lucie Safarova suffered with a bacterial infection for a lengthy 6-month period. Lucie’s troubles started after a shock first round loss to Lesia Tsurenko at the U.S Open, the Czech did make a comeback and participated in the WTA Finals but was clearly lacking strength. This will be Safarova’s first tournament of the new year, the perfect tournament for Lucie to make her return given her amazing week in Doha last year which saw the Czech claim her biggest career title. Lucie has been training in Doha for 2 weeks and is hopeful of making a strong return to the tour at the Qatar Total Open this week. It will be interesting to see what type of level Lucie can produce.

 

Cagla Buyukakcay has been lucky enough to receive a wild card into the main draw in Doha. Buyukakcay has often been awarded a wild card into Doha and Dubai events but has never made an impact at either tournament. Buyukakcay has made a fairly miserable start to the season, highlighted by her first round loss in the qualifying draw at the Australian Open. Buyukakcay arrives in Doha fresh from a 1-6 0-6 loss to Saisai Zheng in the first round of qualifying last week in Dubai.

This will be the first career meeting between Safarova and Buyukakcay. This looks like a massive mismatch on paper, Safarova is clearly a couple of levels above her opponent. However, Safarova will be playing her first competitive match for months and could be quite rusty early on in the match. Safarova has been training in Doha for weeks and will be eager to start her season, I think Lucie will win this pretty comfortably despite this being her match in months.

Prediction: Lucie Safarova to defeat Cagla Buyukakcay in 2 sets


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Qatar Total Open, Tournament Preview

Doha will play host to the first premier 5 level event of the 2016 WTA season. The Qatar Total Open is always one of the most exciting stops on the WTA Tour and has again attracted a stellar line-up despite some high profile withdrawals. 7 of the top 10 players in the world will be in action in Doha, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are notable absentees. Main draw action will begin on Sunday; the top 8 seeds will receive a bye into the second round.

Hot: Angelique Kerber, Barbora Strycova, Belinda Bencic, Sara Errani, Caroline Garcia, Roberta Vinci

Cold: Caroline Wozniacki, Timea Bacsinszky, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza, Ekaterina Makarova

There are a number of players in the draw this week that will be desperate to reverse recent form slumps. High profile players such as Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep are the most notable players to have made extremely disappointing starts to the season. Conversely the form players heading into the event include Dubai finalists Barbora Strycova and Sara Errani as well as Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber. Belinda Bencic and Roberta Vinci are two other players that bring form and confidence into the event after solid starts to the year. 

 

The draw is loaded this week in Doha, there will therefore be a number of tough first round clashes. The most notable first round matches include Kristina Mladenovic vs Barbora Strycova, Karolina Pliskova vs Margarita Gasparyan, Ekaterina Makarova vs Andrea Petkovic, Sara Errani vs Tsvetana Pironkova and Sabine Lisicki vs Monica Niculescu.

Agnieszka Radwanska will be one of the main contenders this week in Doha. The Pole decided not to compete in Dubai last week due to a lingering leg injury but should be fresh and ready to compete at a high level this week and has been handed a pretty favourable draw. The Pole is in the third quarter of the draw where she is projected to meet Annika Beck or a qualifier in the second round before a potential clash with Jelena Jankovic or Sabine Lisicki in third round. Aga’s projected quarter-final opponent is the seventh seed and defending champion Lucie Safarova. Overall it is a nice section of the draw for Aga who is a clear favourite against anyone in her quarter and also looks the favourite to come through the bottom half of the draw which also features Simona Halep, Carla Suarez Navarro and Caroline Wozniacki.

 

Lucie Safarova will make her much anticipated return to tennis this week in Doha as she attempts to defend her Qatar Total Open title. Safarova was unfortunately forced to sit out of the entire Australian summer because of the ongoing effects of a bacterial infection which interrupted the second half of 2015 for the Roland Garros runner-up. Safarova will receive a bye into the second round where she will face either Lucie Hradecka or Cagla Buyukakcay, a reasonable opening match for Lucie before a tough potential third round clash with Roberta Vinci. It will be interesting to see what kind of level Safarova is at this week, I suspect it will be extremely tough for Safarova to even come close to defending her title this week given it is her first tournament for some time. 

Angelique Kerber will be participating in her first WTA event since claiming her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month, The German will be the top seed this week in Doha. Kerber is in a tough section of the draw, the German will face either Varvara Lepchenko or Saisai Zheng in the second round after receiving a first round bye and is looking set for a third round clash with either Elina Svitolina or Eugenie Bouchard. Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova and Svetlana Kuznetsova are all among tough potential quarter-final opponents for the German. It will be interesting to see how Angie handles herself in her first tournament since the Australian Open and in her first major tournament as the top seed, this is certainly a new experience for Angie.

Predicted Quarter-Finals: Kerber vs Strycova, Muguruza vs Bencic, Vinci vs Radwanska & Suarez Navarro vs Garcia

It is really tough to predict a winner this week at this stage of the event. Dubai was a prime example of the unpredictability of these kind of events when some of the biggest stars are not in attendance. However, there are far more consistently high performing players in action this week and I expect players such as Angelique Kerber, Belinda Bencic, Roberta Vinci, Carla Suarez Navarro and Agnieszka Radwanska to all have a good week. Ultimately I think Radwanska will emerge victorious and claim her first Doha title, with Kerber my second favourite to win the title. Aga has been in great form for months now and will fancy her chances against anyone in the draw this week at the Qatar Total Open. 

Predicted Champion: (3) Agnieszka Radwanska
Who do you think will win the title in Doha? Let me know in the comments section 🙂 


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Angelique Kerber vs Lucie Safarova, WTA Finals RR Preview

WTA Finals RR: (6) Angelique Kerber vs (8) Lucie Safarova

The final group stage match from Singapore will take place on Friday night when Angelique Kerber comes up against Lucie Safarova. The German is in prime position to reach the semi-final stage, her fate is in her own hands. If Garbine Muguruza defeats Petra Kvitova earlier in the day, Angie will advance with a victory over Safarova. If Kvitova wins, things get much more complicated.

 

Angelique Kerber started the week with an impressive 6-2 7-6 victory over Petra Kvitova. Angie was at her counter-punching best, extracting enough errors from Kvitova’s racquet to claim a critical victory. The German couldn’t maintain her winning form on Wednesday, suffering a 4-6 4-6 loss to Garbine Muguruza, her 4th consecutive loss to the Spaniard. Angie was simply overpowered, once again.

Little was expected of Lucie Safarova in Singapore, despite losing her first 2 matches in straight sets she has performed reasonably well. Lucie started the week with a 3-6 6-7 loss to Garbine Muguruza before slumping to an 8th consecutive defeat to Petra Kvitova with a 5-7 5-7 loss. Lucie can no longer qualify for the semi-finals, so she will enter her final group stage match with nothing to lose.

 

The head-to-head record between Angie and Lucie is split at 1 win apiece. Lucie won their most recent encounter 6-4 6-4 in the FED Cup final last year. Angie’s victory came on the carpet courts in Paris back in 2012, a 6-2 7-6 win.

Angelique Kerber enters this match with form on her side, the German has everything to play for. Conversely, Safarova hasn’t won a match since New Haven and has nothing to play for but pride. This looks like a formula for a Kerber victory.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Lucie Safarova in 3 sets

Petra Kvitova vs Lucie Safarova, WTA Finals RR Preview

WTA Finals RR: (4) Petra Kvitova vs (8) Lucie Safarova

Wednesday’s first match from the white group will be an all Czech affair when former champion Petra Kvitova takes on WTA Finals debutant Lucie Safarova. Petra and Lucie both lost their opening group matches on Monday, both ladies arrived in Singapore with question marks surrounding their fitness and form but both played at a decent level despite coming up second best. This match is a must win for both to keep their chances alive at reaching the semi-final stage. Safarova will be looking to claim her first career victory over her compatriot, Petra currently holds a perfect 7-0 head-to-head record over Lucie.

 

Petra Kvitova suffered a 2-6 6-7 loss to Angelique Kerber in her opening match in Singapore. Kvitova made a slow start to the match and quickly found herself a set down, Petra really raised her level in the second set and had multiple set points in the German’s last service game of the set. Angie would ultimately hold and run away with the match in the decisive tiebreaker. Kvitova is one of only two defending champions in action this week and is competing in her 5th consecutive WTA Finals campaign, she is still a force that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Lucie Safarova is still yet to win a match since New Haven. Safarova lost 3-6 6-7 to Garbine Muguruza in her first match on Monday evening. The match was played at an extremely high standard, arguably the highest quality match of the tournament thus far. Safarova had her opportunities to win the second set but was unable to make the most of critical break point chances and didn’t return particularly well throughout the match. Despite the loss, it was a promising start to the tournament for Safarova given her less than ideal preparation.

 

Petra Kvitova has a perfect 7-0 head-to-head record over Lucie Safarova. Petra always rises to the occasion when she comes up against a fellow Czech, eager to confirm her positon as the nation’s number 1. Petra and Lucie have played 6 times since the start of 2014, Lucie has always been competitive, pushing Kvitova to a third set on 3 occasions and 5 of the 6 matches have featured a tiebreak. Their most recent clash took place in the New Haven final, Kvitova prevailed 6-7 6-2 6-2, Lucie seemed to run out of gas towards the end of that match.

This could be a real opportunity for Safarova to claim her first career victory over Kvitova. Safarova seems to be getting closer and closer and is bound to eventually defeat Petra. This should be a really close match, I think Safarova is actually better positioned heading into this match, she looks fresher and more relaxed. Lucie is favoured by the surface in this match-up, It’s time for Lucie to finally beat Petra.

Prediction: Lucie Safarova to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets