Sabine Lisicki vs Naomi Broady, Malaysian Open QF Preview

Malaysian Open QF: (3) (wc) Sabine Lisicki vs Naomi Broady

An interesting quarter-final match-up in Kuala Lumpur sees 2 of the biggest servers go head-to-head when Sabine Lisicki comes up against Naomi Broady. This will be the first career meeting between the pair.

Sabine Lisicki has made a really poor start to the season but has a chance to gain some much needed momentum in Kuala Lumpur. The German advanced through to the quarter-finals courtesy of tight straight set victories over Magda Linette and Barbora Krejcikova. Kuala Lumpur is the first event in 2016 that Sabine has managed to record back-to-back victories, a couple more victories for Sabine would be the perfect preparation heading into Indian Wells and Miami where the German has a significant amount of points to defend.

 

Unlike Sabine Lisicki, Naomi Broady does having winning momentum on her side after a positive start to the season. However, the majority of Naomi’s victories have been at the lower level including a title run at the 100k ITF event in Midland a couple of weeks ago. Broady started the week in Kuala Lumpur with a three set win over Klara Koukalova before beating Zhaoxuan Yang in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals.

On paper, this looks like a bit of a danger match for Sabine but I actually expect her to do well in this match-up. Obviously both players are fantastic servers but Sabine is far more competent and versatile from the baseline and is also a better returner and has far greater movement and defensive skills. Sabine should win this match. 

Prediction: Sabine Lisicki to defeat Naomi Broady in 2 sets


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Sabine Lisicki vs Barbora Krejcikova, Malaysian Open R2 Preview

Malaysian Open R2: (3) (wc) Sabine Lisicki vs (Q) Barbora Krejcikova

Sabine Lisicki will be aiming to win back-to-back matches for the first time in 2016 and for the first time since the U.S Open last year when she comes up against Barbora Krejcikova in the second round at the Malaysian Open. This week is a good opportunity for the German to gain a much needed confidence boost heading into Indian Wells and Miami where Lisicki has a ton of points to defend.

 

Sabine Lisicki navigated her way through a potentially dangerous first round clash in Kuala Lumper, recording a 6-4 7-6 victory over Magda Linette. Sabine’s level was very up and down throughout the match and things got particularly wobbly for Sabine when she attempted to close out the match. The German failed to serve out the match at 6-5 and trailed 1-5 in the tiebreak before winning 6 points in a row to claim a much needed win.

Barbora Krejcikova recorded just her second round main draw victory at the tour level by defeating Yafan Wang 6-4 1-6 6-2. The 20-year-old Czech has built up some nice momentum after storming through the qualifying draw without dropping a set. Barbora will face the toughest opponent of her career thus far when she comes up against Lisicki in the second round in Kuala Lumpur.

On paper this looks like a massive mismatch. Lisicki is the clear favourite. This is an important week for Sabine, the German is in desperate need of a confidence boost before she heads to Indian Wells and Miami otherwise she is in serious danger of dropping a severe number points and a dramatic drop in rankings. This is a match Sabine should be winning.

Prediction: Sabine Lisicki to defeat Barbora Krejcikova in 2 sets


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Hopman Cup Day 1 Preview

The 2016 Hopman Cup will begin on Sunday where both Australian teams will be in action. Serena Williams will be the headline act at the event for the second year in a row, the tournament also features a number of WTA rising stars including Karolina Pliksova, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Garcia and Daria Gavrilova. Unfortunately Poland will not be defending their title 2016 title, a new champion will be crowned.

Australia Green vs Germany: Daria Gavrilova vs Sabine Lisicki

Daria Gavrilova will be representing Australia for the very first time when she contests the opening match of the tournament against German Sabine Lisicki on Sunday.

It will be interesting to see how Gavrilova responds to the occasion, this will be an important moment for Daria. Gavrilova is a passionate character and should thrive in this type of situation, Daria will be keen to impress with a spot in the Australian Fed Cup team up for grabs in 2016.

Sabine Lisicki will be making her first appearance at the Hopman Cup since 2010. Lisicki has struggled at the Australian Open in recent years, failing to get passed in the second round in her last three appearances. Sabine will be hoping a change in preparation will lead to better results in Melbourne, a guaranteed 3 matches is always useful.

This will be the first ever meeting between Daria and Sabine. The two were scheduled to meet in the second round at Roland Garros last year but Daria was forced to hand Sabine a walkover due to injury.

This is an interesting match-up between one of the hardest hitters on the tour and one of the quickest players on the tour. Both have the ability to hurt the other, it will all be about who is able to execute their game in their first competitive match of the year. I think Gavrilova will be extra motivated to pick up a victory in her first match representing Australia. It will be tough for Sabine to come out and hit Daria off the court in her first match of the year.

Prediction: Daria Gavrilova to defeat Sabine Lisicki in 3 sets
Australia Gold vs Czech Republic: Jarmila Gajdosova vs Karolina Pliskova

Both Jarmila Gajdosova and Karolina Pliskova were late entries into the 2016 Hopman Cup. Jarmila Gajdosova is replacing the injured Casey Dellacqua whilst Karolina Pliskova is replacing the injured Lucie Safarova. This promises to be fast paced match between two ladies who prefer to keep rallies as short as possible. 

Jarmila and Karolina are quite experienced when it comes to representing their country, Gajdosova has represented Australia in the Fed Cup world group stage whilst Karolina Pliskova was a crucial member of a triumphant Czech Republic Fed Cup team in 2016.

Karolina Pliskova and Jarmila Gajdosova were both pretty active during the off-season, competing in the IPTL. Karolina’s off-season was particularly busy given she also competed in the Fed Cup final, this could give Karolina an edge heading into this event as she will not be as rusty as her opponents.

Karolina won the only previous encounter between the pair, a 7-6 6-1 victory in Miami 2013 at the qualifying stage. Karolina does most things better than Jarmila and should enjoy the slightly more relaxed atmosphere at the Hopman Cup.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Jarmila Gajdosova in 2 sets

Belinda Bencic vs Sabine Lisicki, Toronto R3 Preview

Toronto R3: Belinda Bencic vs Sabine Lisicki

Another intriguing third round clash at the Rogers Cup in Toronto sees Belinda Bencic come up against Sabine Lisicki. Bencic continues to rise up the rankings and will have her eyes set on another big victory against the German on Thursday.

Bencic backed up her 6-0 5-7 6-2 victory over Eugenie Bouchard in the opening round with a hard fought 7-5 7-5 second round victory over Caroline Wozniacki. Bencic has now beaten the Dane twice in a row, a solid effort at this stage in her career, especially since Wozniacki beat Bencic 6-0 6-0 in their first encounter which was just over a year ago. Bencic seems to be playing with endless confidence at the moment, The Swiss rising star is not intimidated by the big stage and continues to impress.

 

After routing Venus Williams 6-0 6-3 in the opening round, Sabine Lisicki booked her spot in the third round with a 7-6 6-4 victory over Barbora Strycova. Lisicki kept her cool at the business end of each set, encouraging signs for the German moving forward.

In their only previous meeting, Sabine Lisicki blasted a record breaking 27 aces past Bencic in a 6-1 7-6 victory in Birmingham earlier this year. I expect this to be a very different match, I like Belinda’s chances. Bencic is very solid for the baseline at the moment and should be clever enough to frustrate the German into enough errors to pick the victory.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Sabine Lisicki in 2 sets

Sabine Lisicki vs Barbora Strycova, Toronto R2 Preview

Toronto R2: Sabine Lisicki vs Barbora Strycova

Sabine Lisicki will come up against Barbora Strycova on Wednesday in Toronto, a fascinating second round matchup between two contrasting styles.

Sabine Lisicki booked her spot in the second round with a crushing 6-0 6-3 victory over Venus Williams. The German made a horror start to her U.S Open series in Stanford where she blew a 6-1 3-1 lead against Kimiko Date-Krumm. Sabine had no such problems in her opening round match in Toronto, Sabine was solid from start to finish, serving well and punishing the American’s weak second serve. It’s important for Sabine to back up her first round performance on Wednesday when she comes up against Barbora Strycova.

 

Barbora Strycova also made an impressive start to her Rogers Cup campaign. Strycova comprehensively defeated Varvara Lepchenko 6-2 6-4. A solid result given the American played great tennis last week where she reached the semi-finals in Stanford.

Strycova won the only previous encounter between the pair, a hard fought 7-5 6-4 victory in Doha earlier this year. This is a tough match to call, Strycova has an awkward game which can easily disrupt the German, however Sabine does have the game to blow Strycova off the court. I think Strycova will be clever enough to prevail in this one.

Prediction: Barbora Strycova to defeat Sabine Lisicki in 3 sets

Venus Williams vs Sabine Lisicki, Toronto R1 Preview

Toronto R1: (14) Venus Williams vs Sabine Lisicki

Venus Williams faces a tough first up test on Monday Evening, the 2014 runner-up comes up against the always dangerous Sabine Lisicki in what should be an entertaining first round encounter.

Venus Williams made a solid start to the season but things fell away for the American. Venus has already played in one event since Wimbledon, suffering a shock first round exit to Bondarenko in Istanbul. Venus will be keen to emulate last year’s impressive run to the final where she played some of her best tennis in recent years.

 

Sabine Lisicki made an extremely disappointing start to her U.S Open series. The German suffered a humiliating 6-1 6-7 2-6 loss to Kimiko Date-Krumm. Lisicki looked to be cruising when she led 6-1 3-1 but her game quickly crumbled as Date-Krumm was handed her first main draw victory of the year. Sabine will be keen to make amends for that loss on Monday.

Lisicki has reason to be confident heading into this match, the German has 2-1 head to head record over the American. In their most recent encounter, Sabine thumped Venus 6-1 6-2 in Beijing back in 2013.

 

This is an extremely tough match to call, you never know what to expect from these two in a first round match, especially Sabine. I’m going to give the slight edge to Sabine, the German enjoys playing against big-hitters like Venus and I think she will rise for the occasion and upset last year’s runner-up at the Rogers Cup.

Prediction: Sabine Lisicki to defeat Venus Williams in 3 sets

2015 Bank of the West Classic Stanford, Tournament Preview

2015 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford – Tournament Preview

After three weeks of random international events around the globe, the tour heats right back up with the beginning of the 2015 U.S Open Series. The Bank of the West Classic in Stanford is the first of four premier level events in the lead up to the final Grand Slam of the year in New York. This is always one of the most exciting periods of the season.

The Bank of the West Classic has once again attracted a reasonably strong field, 8 top 20 players will be in action in Stanford this week. However defending champion Serena Williams was forced to withdraw from the event with a right elbow injury, a major blow for the tournament. Late wild cards, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska will now enter the tournament as the top two seeds.

 

A new champion will be crowned this week in Stanford, there are no former champions in the draw. Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber are the only two ladies to have reached the final.

The first quarter of the draw is headlined by the number one seed, Caroline Wozniacki. Surprisingly, this will be the Dane’s first ever appearance in Stanford. Caroline’s quarter of the draw is littered with dangerous opponents. The world number 5 will receive a bye into the second round where she will face either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or Varvara Lepchenko, two potentially dangerous first up opponents.

Caroline is projected to meet Andrea Petkovic in the quarter-finals. The German faces a tough opening round challenge, coming up against compatriot Carina Witthoeft. A second round clash with Mona Barthel is likely to await the winner. The quarter-final clash between Caroline and Andrea seems likely.

 

Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys are the two seeded players in the second quarter of the draw. Both ladies are right in the mix to reach the WTA Finals for the first time. Pliskova will receive a bye into the second round where she is likely to run into Sabine Lisicki in what would be an exciting second round match-up.

1st Half Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki def. Sabine Lisicki 

Madison Keys plays Aleksandra Krunic in the first round and could come up against Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round. A tricky draw for the American.

The third quarter of the draw features Carla Suarez Navarro and Elina Svitolina. Suarez Navarro has been one of the most consistent performers this year and is also on track to reach the WTA finals for the first time in her career. This is another great opportunity for Carla to pick up some more points, Carla receives a bye into the second round before facing either Alison Riske or Tatjana Maria for a spot the final 8.

 

Elina Svitolina is one to watch out for during the US Open series. Elina faces a qualifier in the opening round before a potential showdown with fellow rising start Caroline Garcia in the second round.

The final quarter of the draw is arguably the strongest as it features two of the tournament favourites, Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber. Radwanska should cruise into the final 8, the Pole receives a bye into the second round where she will face either CiCi Bellis or a qualifier.

Angelique Kerber’s passage to the final 8 will be a little more difficult, the German faces Daria Gavrilova in a tough opening round matchup before a potential clash with Ana Konjuh in the second round. Aga and Angie are both quite experienced in Stanford and should set up a mouth-watering quarter-final match-up.

2nd Half Prediction: Aga Radwanska def. Carla Suarez Navarro

 

Caroline Wozniacki and Aga Radwanska aren’t the strongest and most ruthless top seeds, but I fancy both to reach the final. Wozniacki’s biggest threat is likely to come in the semi-finals against either Madison Keys, Sabine Lisicki or Karolina Pliskova. The Dane has always performed well on the North American hard courts and things shouldn’t be any different here. Whilst Aga’s biggest threat is clearly Angelique Kerber, I would give Aga the slight edge given her positive record over Angie.

Final Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Caroline Wozniacki

Sabine Lisicki vs Timea Bacsinszky, Wimbledon R3 Preview

Wimbledon R3: (18) Sabine Lisicki vs (15) Timea Bacsinszky

Sabine Lisicki will be looking to reach the second week at Wimbledon for a sixth consecutive time when she takes to the court on Saturday. The German will come up against one of 2015’s most consistent performers: Timea Bacsinszky. Yet another intriguing third round clash featuring two ladies with very contrasting styles.

Sabine Lisicki was forced to work harder than expected to reach the third round. The German won a tight opening round match against Jarmila Gajdosova, prevailing 7-5 6-4. In a battle of two massive hitters, it was Lisicki who was more consistent from the baseline.

 

Sabine wasn’t as consistent in her 2-6 7-5 6-1 second round victory over Christina McHale. Back on Centre Court for the first time this year, Sabine made an extremely wayward start, hitting wild unforced errors in a horrible first set of tennis. Sabine went down an early break in the second set and looked to be heading for an early round exit, the German kept fighting and recovered well to win a tight second set before running away with the match in the third.

Despite being down in the second set, Sabine always seemed to believe she would turn things around, the German feels so comfortable at SW19. The German plays her best tennis in London and again looks like being a threat to the top players over the next week and a bit.

 

Timea Bacsinszky continues to break personal records in season 2015. Fresh off her first Grand Slam semifinal appearance at Roland Garros, Timea is now into the third round at Wimbledon for the first time in her career. Bacsinszky has rejuvenated her career in 2015, the Swiss number 1 has already won 34 matches this year and as result she seems to be full of confidence and really enjoying herself on court.

Timea was a little too clever for Goerges in the opening round, recording a 6-2 7-5 victory. Timea put on a clinic in the second round, thumping Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-2 6-1, hitting 36 winners and just 16 unforced errors.

 

Timea Bacsinszky holds a 2-0 head to head record over Sabine Lisicki. In their most recent encounter, Timea prevailed 6-4 6-3 in Rome earlier this year. Expect to see a very different result when the two go head to head on Saturday for the first time on a grass court.

Sabine Lisicki’s record at Wimbledon is infinitely times better than Timea’s, that counts for a lot. I suspect Timea will struggle to deal with the German’s powerful game on this quick surface. Timea is undoubtedly an awkward opponent, she mixes thing up very well, there may be some tough moments for Sabine on Saturday. In the end, The German’s powerful game will see her progress to the second week at Wimbledon yet again.

Prediction: Sabine Lisicki to defeat Timea Bacsinszky in 2 sets

Jarmila Gajdosova vs Sabine Lisicki, Wimbledon R1 Preview

Jarmila Gajdosova vs (18) Sabine Lisicki

Sabine Lisicki will open her 2015 Wimbledon campaign against the always dangerous: Jarmila Gajdosova. Sabine Lisicki has been a serial giant-killer at Wimbledon over the past couple of years, the German looks set for another deep run at SW19.

Jarmila Gajdosova arrives at Wimbledon with a good number of grass court matches under her belt. Jarka successfully battled through qualifiers in Nottingham in Eastbourne, but failed to make it past the second round in both events.

Jarka has reached the second round at Wimbledon on one previous occasion, the Australian reached the fourth round at SW19 back in 2010. Jarka has had a typically erratic season, her best is very good, however we very rarely see her best tennis displayed consistently enough.

 

Sabine Lisicki has been one of the most consistent performers at Wimbledon over the past 5 years, Sabine has reached at least the quarter-finals in her last 5 appearances at the All England Club. Sabine’s best result was in 2013 where she reached the final, however the German was overwhelmed by the occasion and lost to Marion Bartoli in straight sets.

Sabine’s lead up to this years event has been promising. The German reached the semifinals in Birmingham where she succumbed to the eventual champion: Angelique Kerber. It was in the opening round at Birmingham where Sabine created headlines, firing 27 aces past Belinda Bencic in her 6-1 7-6 victory, breaking the WTA record for the most aces in a match. Sabine’s serve is one the biggest weapons on tour, especially on grass, if she serves well she is always going to difficult to beat.

 

This will be the first career meeting between Sabine and Jarka, two of the most explosive players on tour, expect to see a lot of big hitting and short rallies.

Sabine Lisicki been surprisingly consistent at Wimbledon over the years. The German feels right at home on the grass, it will take a big effort for anyone to defeat her over the next fortnight. Gajdosova is capable of challenging Lisicki, however the German does everything a little better and will come through this one.

Prediction: Sabine Lisicki to defeat Jarmila Gajdosova in 2 sets

Sabine Lisicki vs Ana Ivanovic, Dubai R2 Preview

Sabine Lisicki vs (4) Ana Ivanovic

Sabine Lisicki and Ana Ivanovic will come head to head for the fifth time within the last 12 months when compete for a spot in the third at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Three consecutive first round losses for Sabine Lisicki meant she arrived in Dubai without a main draw victory in 2015 and seemingly deprived of confidence. The German finally picked up her first victory of the season with a comfortable 6-3 6-4 victory over Monica Niculescu to advance to the second round in Dubai.

Lisicki did well to remain positive and stick to her game plan throughout her first round victory in Dubai despite things not always going way. The German fell behind an early break in the second set but rebounded impressively to confidently close out the match in straight sets. Lisicki has struggled against Monica in the past, making this a very pleasing result for the German, something she can build on.

 

Ivanovic made an extremely positive start to her season in Brisbane where she reached the final before eventually succumbing to Maria Sharapova. However things quickly went downhill for the Serb as she suffered a humiliating first round exit in Melbourne. Ana Ivanovic recently revealed that she suffered from a broken toe prior to her shock first round defeat to Lucie Hradecka at the Australian Open.

It’s hard to know just how prepared for this event Ana really is, she admitted that her toe is still not perfect and it is still somewhat hindering her. Sabine Lisicki will be a tough first up opponent for Ana, especially considering she hasn’t played a match for almost a month. It’s hard to get into any type of rhythm against Sabine, especially on a fast court like the ones in Dubai.

 

Prior to 2014 these two had never faced one another, remarkably in 2014 the two faced off on four occasions. Ivanovic prevailed on three of those occasions, Lisicki’s only victory came at her beloved Wimbledon.

Ivanovic won both of their matches on a hard court including their most recent encounter in Beijing, a 6-3 7-5 victory. Lisicki famously hit the fastest ever recorded serve on the WTA tour when the two met in Stamford last year, a 211 km/h bomb. However it was Ivanovic who prevailed 7-6 6-1.

Ivanovic has not played a match in almost a month and given her recent injury woes, this match is much harder to call then it perhaps it might usually be. Sabine Lisicki has a match under her belt in Dubai and should therefore be more comfortable with the tricky conditions. The zippy courts suit Sabine’s game, an upset looks to be on the cards. I think Sabine will get the job done in a rather messy match.

Prediction: Sabine Lisicki to defeat Ana Ivanovic in 3 sets