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)

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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Iga Swiatek vs. Sofia Kenin, Roland Garros Final Preview

??? Roland Garros, F preview + prediction:
?? Iga Swiatek vs. ?? (4) Sofa Kenin

After a whacky couple of weeks in Paris we are left with a blockbuster championship match at Roland Garros when Iga Swiatek comes up against Sofia Kenin. Swiatek has stormed into her first major final without dropping a set, the Pole’s dominance throughout the last fortnight means she will enter this final as the favourite. Kenin has been here before, the reigning Australian Open champion has overcome some stern tests in Paris and has her eyes set on a second major title in 2020. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, who will prevail?

Iga Swiatek’s pathway to the final:

R1: d. (15) Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-2
R2: d. Su-Wei Hsieh 6-1 6-4
R3: d. Eugenie Bouchard 6-3 6-2
R4: d (1) Simona Halep 6-1 6-2
QF: d. (Q) Martina Trevisan 6-3 6-1
SF: d. (Q) Nadia Podoroska 6-2 6-1

Sofia Kenin’s pathway to the final:

R1: d. Ludmilla Samsonova 6-4 3-6 6-3
R2: d. Ana Bogdan 3-6 6-3 6-2
R3: d. (Q) Irina Bara 6-2 6-0
R4: d. Fiona Ferro 2-6 6-2 6-1
QF: d. Danielle Collins 6-4 4-6 6-0
SF: d. (7) Petra Kvitova 6-4 7-5

Iga Swiatek has been dominant, the 19-year-old hasn’t dropped more than 4 games in a single set on route to the final. The Pole has conceded an average of just under 2 games per set all tournament. It should be noted that the last 8 women who reached a major final having not dropped more than 4 games in a set went on to lose in the final, a record that dates back to 1978. It should also be noted that Swiatek enters her first Grand Slam final on the back of facing 2 qualifiers in a row, that’s surely not ideal preparation for a maiden Grand Slam final, especially considering neither of those opponents tested Swiatek in the slightest.

Sofia Kenin is the only woman to reach 2 major finals in 2020, the American hasn’t been as dominant as Swiatek on route to the final in Paris, but she has overcome some strong opponents and tough situations. Most notably Kenin was able to overcome a red-hot Fiona Ferro in the fourth round, from a set down, in front of a vocal French crowd. Kenin booked her spot in the final with a tough straight set win over Petra Kvitova, a significant win given how well the American played in the tight moments against a proven champion.

I’m going to side with Sofia Kenin. History is against Swiatek, with good reason. Swiatek simply hasn’t been tested all tournament, there have been no tight moments for the Pole. In her first major final, against a major champion, this will be tight, there will be pressure, totally unpredicted territory for the teenager. Can she del with the pressure? We don’t know. Kenin is mentally tough, she has proven that all year, a 16-1 record at Grand Slam events in 2020, including a huge with over the top seeded Ash Barty in Melbourne and a win from a set down in the Australian Open final against Garbine Muguruza. Kenin can work her way through tough situations, as she has in Paris where she has come through 4 three set matches, twice from a set down. Kenin has the complete game: power, versatility, great movement, and most importantly a champions mentality, expect the American to be too strong here.

Prediction: Sofia Kenin to defeat Iga Swiatek in 2 sets

Elina Svitolina vs. Caroline Garcia, Roland Garros R4 Preview

??? Roland Garros, R4 preview + prediction:
?? (3) Elina Svitolina vs. ?? Caroline Garcia

A blockbuster fourth round clash at Roland Garros on Sunday sees the 3rd seeded Elina Svitolina come up against a resurgent Caroline Garcia. It is Svitolina who heads into this clash as the favourite despite holding a problematic 1-3 head-to-head record against the Frenchwoman. Garcia has already beaten a couple of seeded opponents on route to the round of 16 and will have her eyes set on another big scalp on Day 8.

Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine in action during the third round at the 2020 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Elina Svitolina has now won 7 matches in a row on the red dirt in France. The world number 5 arrived in Paris fresh from winning her 15th title in Strasbourg. The third seed didn’t have things easy through the first week at Roland Garros, a 7-6 6-4 win over Varvara Gracheva was followed by a 6-3 0-6 6-2 victory over Renata Zarazua. Svitolina booked her spot in the round 16 in Paris for the 4th time with a hard-fought 6-4 7-5 win over the 27th seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Caroline Garcia has flipped the script on her poor from in the lead up to her home major. Garcia started the tournament with a 6-4 3-6 6-4 upset victory over the 17th seeded Anett Kontaveit before getting the job done against Aliaksandra Sasnovich with a 7-6 6-2 win. Garcia booked her spot in the round of 16 at Roland Garros for the 3rd time with another upset win, a 1-6 6-4 7-5 win over the 16th seeded Elise Mertens. Garcia now has an opportunity to equal her best run at a major by reaching the quarterfinals, just as she did in Paris in 2017.

Caroline Garcia of France in action during the third round at the 2020 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Caroline Garcia has won the last 3 matches between the pair, interestingly Garcia won all 3 matches despite losing the opening set in a tiebreaker. The most recent match between the pair was in Stuttgart in 2018, Garcia won 6-7 6-4 6-2. Garcia also won a couple of tight matches over the Ukrainian at the later stages of 2017 in Beijing and at the WTA Finals.

I’m going to side with Svitolina despite her negative record against Garcia. Svitolina was beaten by Garcia’s absolute best tennis in their 3 previous matches, all of which took place in favourable conditions for the Frenchwoman at a time where Garcia was in career best form. On this occasion a heavy clay court will give Svitolina more opportunity to get into extended rallies and to grind down her opponent. The conditions also give Svitolina more of an opportunity to pass Garcia at the net. Svitolina has defeated several big hitters over the last few weeks, wins over Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina and Ekaterina Alexandrova are great preparation for the heavy hitting for will face against Garcia. Svitolina is too solid to make the same mistake for the 4th time in a row.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Caroline Garcia in 3 sets

Simona Halep vs. Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros R4 Preview

??? Roland Garros, R4 preview + prediction:
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? Iga Swiatek

Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek will meet at the round of 16 stage at Roland Garros for the second year in a row. Halep thrashed Swiatek 6-1 6-0 in 2019 and will be a strong favourite to claim another commanding when they meet again 12 months later in Paris. Halep is the form player on tour, whilst Swiatek is a player on the rise, an interesting match-up, has Swiatek improved enough to pull off the upset?

Simona Halep of Romania in action during the third round at the 2020 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Simona Halep has won 17 matches in a row. The top seed stormed through the opening week in Paris without dropping a set, a 6-4 6-0 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo, followed by a 6-3 6-4 win over Irina-Camelia Begu eased Halep into the tournament. The reigning Wimbledon champion produced an extremely impressive performance to secure her spot in the round of 16 when she smashed Amanda Anisimova 6-0 6-1 in less than hour, avenging her shock loss to the American at the quarter-final stage of last year’s event.

Iga Swiatek is into the round of 16 at a major for the third time, a promising record for the 19-year-old. Swiatek also cruised through the first week in Paris without dropping a set. The Pole started the tournament with a 6-1 6-2 win over the 15th seeded Marketa Vondrousova before beating Su-Wei Hsieh 6-1 6-4. Swiatek booked a rematch with Halep thanks to a commanding 6-3 6-2 win over Eugenie Bouchard. Clay is the Pole’s preferred surface, a surface she will win many matches on over the next decade.

Iga Swiatek of Poland in action during the third round at the 2020 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

The only previous match between the pair was Halep’s 6-1 6-0 victory at Roland Garros last year.

I’m going to side with Halep here. Halep absolutely overwhelmed Swiatek 12 months ago in Paris and heads into this match in top form. Swiatek has undoubtedly improved over the last 12 months, but not enough to seriously challenge the top seed when they meet again on Sunday. Swiatek doesn’t have the power to consistently hit through Halep and she doesn’t have the consistency or stamina to outlast the Romanian from the baseline. Halep is too solid at the moment.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Iga Swiatek in 2 sets

Alize Cornet vs. Shuai Zhang, Roland Garros R2 Preview

??? Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction:
?? Alize Cornet vs. ?? Shuai Zhang

Alize Cornet comes up against China’s Shuai Zhang at the second round stage in Paris. Cornet is a Roland Garros veteran, the Frenchwoman has played in the singles draw every single year since 2005. Unfortunately for Cornet she has only made it into the second week at her home major on 2 occasions out of her 15 previous appearances. Fresh from a fourth round appearance at the US Open earlier this month it is Cornet who brings the better form into this clash.

Alize Cornet booked her spot in the second round at Roland Garros with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over countrywoman Chloe Paquet. Cornet played one warm-up event on clay prior to arriving in Paris where she stumbled at the second round stage in Strasbourg to the eventual finalist Elena Rybakina in what was a competitive match. Earlier this month Cornet reached the fourth round at the US Open for the first time in her career, the final in major in which she had yet to previously reach the final 16.

Shuai Zhang advanced to the second round in Paris courtesy of a 6-3 7-6 upset victory over the 12th seeded Madison Keys. Zhang has built up some decent momentum on the red dirt in France having come through the qualifying draw to reach the quarter-finals in Strasbourg last week. Roland Garros has traditionally been Zhang’s least successful major, unsurprisingly given clay is Zhang’s least successful surface in general.

Cornet holds a 4-2 head-to-head record over Zhang. It was Cornet who won the most recent meeting between the pair, a 6-2 6-2 victory on grass in Eastbourne last year.

I’m going to side with Cornet here. Clearly this is a decent match-up for Cornet given her head-to-head success over Zhang, I suspect this advantage to be especially true on a heavy clay court. Cornet and Zhang are both solid from the baseline, both move well, Zhang probably has slightly more firepower but Cornet’s far greater versatility is what gives her the edge in this match-up. Cornet’s backhand slice and drop shot will be very useful here, expect Cornet to be too solid at her home major in what should be a close match.

Prediction: Alize Cornet to defeat Shuai Zhang in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, Roland Garros R2 Preview

??? Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction:
?? (6) Serena Williams vs. ?? Tsvetana Pironkova

Serena Williams and Tsvetana Pironkova will go head-to-head at the second major in a row as the pair clash at the second round stage at Roland Garros. Williams just edged past Pironkova in 3 sets at the quarter-final stage of the US Open earlier this month, can the Bulgarian avenge that loss in Paris?

Both Williams and Pironkova are playing for the first time since their respective deep runs at the US Open earlier this month. Pironkova shocked the tennis world by reaching the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows despite being away from the tour for over 2 years. Williams defeated Pironkova 4-6 6-3 6-2 in the final 8 before being eliminated in the semi-finals.

Serena Williams made a decent start to her 2020 Roland Garros campaign, the 3-time former champion claimed a 7-6 6-0 win over Kristie Ahn to advance to the second round. Meanwhile Pironkova claimed a decent 6-3 6-3 win over Andrea Petkovic, the Bulgarian’s best result in Paris was a run to the quarter-finals in 2016, a year that featured similarly cold and rainy conditions to this year’s event.

Williams holds a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record over Pironkova. 3 of the 5 matches between the pair went the distance, Pironkova certainly made Williams work hard during their quarter-final clash in New York.

This promises to be a close match. I am not convinced by Williams on clay at the moment, Roland Garros has been Serena’s least successful major in recent times, the heavy conditions will make life even more difficult for the 39-year-old. The problem for Williams is that her movement is the area of her game that has declined the most, that is an area that can be exploited on clay more than any other surface. Pironkova has the mix of power and versatility from the baseline to really challenge Williams in these conditions. Williams is undoubtedly rusty on this surface, Pironkova can take advantage. The Bulgarian will have learned from her mistakes in New York, with a couple of adjustments she has what it takes to get the win in troublesome conditions.

Prediction: Tsvetana Pironkova to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets

Elina Svitolina vs. Renata Zarazua, Roland Garros R2 Preview

??? Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction:
?? (3) Elina Svitolina vs. ?? (Q) Renata Zarazua

An in-form Elina Svitolina continues her 2020 Roland Garros campaign with a second round clash against Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua. Svitolina is one of the form players on tour at the moment having won the Strasbourg title just a day before Roland Garros commenced. Svitolina is one of the best players in the world yet to win a major, something the Ukrainian will be hoping to change over the next few weeks, she has the game to make it happen.

Elina Svitolina arrives in Paris fresh from claiming her 15th WTA singles title last week in Strasbourg. The 3rd seed only had a couple of days to recover before her Roland Garros opener, which turned out to be a tough match, a 7-6 6-4 victory over Varvara Gracheva. Svitolina has a decent record at Roland Garros having reached the quarter-final stage in Paris on 2 previous occasions.

Renata Zarazua became the first Mexican woman to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam in 20 years when she successfully made her way through the qualifying draw in Paris. Zarazua claimed 3 wins over decent opposition in the qualifying draw, beating Olga Danilovic, Viktorija Tomova and Daniela Seguel. Zarazua made the most of a favourable opening round draw by beating local wild card Elsa Jacquemot 6-1 6-2.

I don’t see many problems for Svitolina in this match-up. Zarazua doesn’t possess any big weapons, that is a problem against Svitolina, especially on a heavy clay court. Svitolina thrives in these match-ups against fellow counter-punchers or defensive players, expect the Ukrainian to be far too solid for the Mexican. It has been a great run for Zarazua, but this is where her run comes to an end.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Renata Zarazua in 2 sets