Marketa Vondrousova vs. Saisai Zheng, Doha R1 Preview

Qatar Total Open, Doha R1 Preview + prediction:
?? (12) Marketa Vondrousova vs. ?? Saisai Zheng

The 12th seeded Marketa Vondrousova begins her 2020 Qatar Total Open campaign with an opening round clash against China’s Saisai Zheng. Vondrousova arrives in Doha fresh from a bitterly disappointing second round exit in Dubai at the hands of Jennifer Brady, Vondrousova led that match by a set and a double break before collapsing, the 2019 Roland Garros runner-up will be hoping for a strong response here.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Vondrousova in her return to the WTA tour after injury side-lined her for the second half of 2019. Vondrousova recently suffered back-to-back opening round exits at the Australian Open and in St. Petersburg. The 20-year-old snapped her 3-match losing run in Dubai last week where she comfortably defeated Anastasija Sevastova in the opening round before succumbing to Jenifer Brady 4-6 6-4 6-1 despite leading by a set and 4-1.

Saisai Zheng has made a mostly modest start to the 2020 season. Zheng has a 3-4 win/loss record in 2020, Zheng arrives in Doha on the back of an opening round exit at in the qualifying draw in Dubai where she was beaten by Katerina Siniakova in straight sets. Prior to that Zheng was easily beaten by Patricia Maria Tig in Hua Hin where she played an awful match. Zheng did however reach the final of the doubles event in Dubai.

Vondrousova comfortably defeated Zheng in their only previous meeting, a 6-2 6-3 win on grass in Eastbourne last year.

I’m going to side with Vondrousova here. I believe this is a good match-up for Vondrousova. Zheng usually relies on her versatility to undo her opponents but that is unlikely to happen with Vondrousova. The Czech player can better the versatility of Zheng whilst possessing far more power and attacking weapons. Zheng’s net charging tactics will also backfire here as Vondrousova loves a target at the net. Vondrousova is better in all departments and should be smart enough to get through this one pretty comfortably.

Prediction: Marketa Vondrousova to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets
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Saisai Zheng vs. Venus Williams, US Open R1 Preview

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?? Saisai Zheng vs. ?? Venus Williams

An interesting opening round match-up in New York sees two of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw go head-to-head as Saisai Zheng takes on Venus Williams. Zheng is full of confidence at the moment having recently won her first WTA tour level title in San Jose whilst Venus Williams arrives in New York fresh from a quarter-final showing in Cincinnati. Expect an entertaining clash between two contrasting styles.

Saisai Zheng has always been a player with great potential, Zheng recently reminded us of what she is capable of when she won the premier level title in San Jose to begin the US Open series. Zheng beat several tough opponent on route to the title, most notably a straight set win over Aryna Sabalenka in the final. Zheng did however lose in the opening round of the Rogers Cup to Tatjana Mara before succumbing to Aryna Sabalenka in the second round in Cincinnati. Zheng will be looking to regroup in New York and potentially move beyond the second round of a major for the first time.

Venus Williams received a much needed confidence boost a few weeks ago in Cincinnati where she beat several quality opponents on route to the final 8. Venus arrived in Cincinnati having lost 6 of her last 8 matches and in desperate need of strong run. That’s exactly what happened as Venus played some vintage tennis to defeat Lauren Davis, Kiki Bertens and Donna Vekic before succumbing to eventual champion Madison Keys. It will be interesting to see which Venus Williams shows up in New York.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place in Zhuhai in 2015, Venus won that match 4-6 6-1 6-1.

This is a difficult match to predict. It is hard to know what to expect from both players. I’m going to give the slight edge to Zheng. Venus is vulnerable, Zheng has the game to expose the weaknesses in the Williams game. Zheng’s versatility and strong defense have potential to cause Venus problems, especially early in the tournament when Venus hasn’t found her range. At this stage of their respective careers, I’d expect Zheng to be winning this match.

Prediction: Saisai Zheng to defeat Venus Williams in 3 sets

Kristina Mladenovic vs. Saisai Zheng, Indian Wells R1 Preview

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?? Kristina Mladenovic vs. ?? Saisai Zheng

Kristina Mladenovic and Saisai Zheng will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the opening round stage of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday. The bookmaker’s are struggling to separate the pair, however once digging into this match-up there should actually be a clear favourite.

Kristina Mladenovic has continued to struggle throughout the early months of 2019. Mladenovic has won just 1 tour level match and that was virtually a bye against a local player in Dubai, otherwise Mladenovic has lost all of her other 5 matches in fairly disappointing fashion, including a 3 set loss to Timea Bacsinszky at the opening round stage of the Indian Wells 125K event last week.

Saisai Zheng is quietly putting together a solid start to the year. Zheng failed to win a match in January but put together a respectable month in February and arrives in Indian Wells in good form on the back of a quarter-final showing in Acapulco. Zheng also reached the quarter-finals in Hua Hin earlier in the month, the challenge for Zheng is now to put together some good results at the bigger WTA events such as this one.

Mladenovic and Zheng have fairly contrasting styles so it will be interesting to see how the first meeting between the pair pans out. The all-court game of Mladenovic against the baseline grinder in Zheng.

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Julia Goerges vs Saisai Zheng, U.S Open R2 Preview

US Open, ????? R2 Preview + Prediction
(30) ?? Julia Goerges vs ?? Saisai Zheng

The 30th seeded Julia Goerges entered the final Grand Slam of the year in good form, Goerges is the type of player that can be a threat to most players over the next fortnight if she can maintain a high level of play. Goerges cruised through her opening round match in New York, smashing compatriot Annika Beck 6-1 6-0. The German will come up against Saisai Zheng in the second round on Wednesday evening in what will be the first meeting between the pair. Zheng secured her spot in the second round with a 6-4 3-6 6-1 win over Alison Van Uytvanck. It will be interesting to see how this match-up unfolds given the huge contrast in styles between the two.

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Karolina Pliskova vs Saisai Zheng, Roland Garros R1 Preview

Roland Garros, ??? R1 Preview + Prediction
(2) ?? Karolina Pliskova ?? Saisai Zheng

Karolina Pliskova enters Roland Garros as the second seed, however expectations are not as high as would be expected for a second seed. Pliskova has never made It past the second round in Paris, easily her worst record at any of the Grand Slams, clay is clearly Pliskova’s least preferred surface. Nevertheless, Pliskova continues to improve and will be determined to prove to herself that she can be a factor on this surface. Pliskova begins her 2017 Roland Garros campaign on Tuesday as she takes Saisai Zheng.

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Angelique Kerber vs Saisai Zheng, Doha R2 Preview

Doha R2: (1) Angelique Kerber vs Saisai Zheng

Angelique Kerber will be competing in her first WTA tournament since she stunned the tennis world by claiming her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open title in January. The German is the top seed this week in Doha and after receiving a bye into the second round will face Chinese world number 72 Saisai Zheng. This will be the first ever meeting between the pair and should be a good match-up for Angie. 

Entering a major WTA tournament as the top seed and a newly crowned Grand Slam champion will be a totally new experience for Angelique Kerber and will likely to be a factor for the German this week in Doha. Kerber’s life has certainly changed, there will be far more attention on Angie from now on. Angie obviously couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the season, defeating both Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams on route to her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. If Angie can emulate that form she will be a major contender at the remaining Grand Slam events in 2016 and will be hard to stop this week at the Qatar Total Open.


Saisai Zheng brings decent form into her second round clash with Angelique Kerber. Zheng is fresh off a decent week in Dubai where she came through the qualifying draw to reach the second round before succumbing to the eventual champion Sara Errani. Zheng advanced to the second round in Doha courtesy of a 6-2 7-6 victory over Varvara Lepchenko, her second victory over the American in as many weeks.

This will be the first ever clash between Kerber and Zheng. I suspect Angie will be reasonably comfortable in this match-up. Zheng isn’t a particularly aggressively minded players and doesn’t have any serious weapons that can puncture holes in the game of the German. Angie will be able to dictate play and should make a good start to her Doha campaign with a reasonably easy win.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets


WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 4 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 4 Match Previews & Predictions 

Venus Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Roberta Vinci secured semi-final births on day 3, the final semi-finalist will be confirmed on the final day of group stage action on Friday. Elina Svitolina and Carla Suarez Navarro will battle for the final position, the winner will progress to the final 4. Roberta Vinci advanced to the semi-finals courtesy of Caroline Wozniacki retiring against Kuznetsova and withdrawing from the event, essentially eliminating the Russian from the event. 

Group B: (2) Carla Suarez Navarro vs (8) Elina Svitolina

Friday’s most intriguing match sees Carla Suarez Navarro and Elina Svitolina go head-to-head for a spot in the semi-finals. Carla and Elina both pick up victories over Andrea Petkovic, the winner of this match will finish on top of Group B and progress to the semi-final stage. 


Carla Suarez Navarro routed a wounded Andrea Petkovic 6-0 6-0 in her opening group stage match in Zhuhai. Petkovic was not competitive, offering little to no resistance. Nevertheless, Carla was seemingly playing at a pretty reasonable level. 

Elina Svitolina started the week with a 7-6 6-3 victory over Andrea Petkovic. The German was certainly much more competitive in this match, offering much more resistance. Svitolina’s form during the Asian Swing was poor but she seems to be in a better place this week and will be keen to make an impact in Zhuhai, this is a good opportunity for Elina. 

The head-to-head record between Carla and Elina is split at 1 win apiece, Elina won their most recent clash 4-6 6-4 6-4 in Cincinnati last year. This should be a good match with both ladies desperate to win, I like Elina’s chances here. Carla and Elina are both great grinders from the baseline, but Elina is more solid and has a greater ability to attack. 

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 2 sets 

Group D: (4) Roberta Vinci vs Anna Schmiedlova 

Roberta Vinci and Anna Schmiedlova will go head-to-head for the first time on Friday. Courtesy of Caroline Wozniacki’s withdrawal from the event, Anna Schmiedlova has taken her spot as an alternate. 


Roberta Vinci started her Zhuhai campaign in style with a commanding 6-4 6-4 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Vinci was on top from start to finish, the Italian’s serve was never broken. 

Schmiedlova is certainly a dangerous opponent and is more than capable of competing with the U.S Open finalist, Schmiedlova has nothing to lose and I think she will cause an upset here. 

Prediction: Anna Schmiedlova to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets 

Group A: (7) Madison Keys vs (12) (WC) Saisai Zheng 

The Final match of the day is a dead rubber. Madison and Saisai both lost their opening group stage matches to Venus Williams meaning the American will finish on top of the group and advance to the semi-finals. 

Madison and Saisai both showed promising signs in their opening group matches despite being defeated. Keys came particularly close to victory, outplaying Venus for the majority of the first 2 sets but ultimately succumbing 6-3 6-7 1-6.  Keys will be hoping to end the best season of he career on a high with a victory over Zheng. 


Saisai Zheng pushed Venus Williams much more than expected. Saisai made a terrific start to the match and hung on the claim the first set. However Venus would eventually raise her level to steamroll past the local hopeful 4-6 6-1 6-1. 

This will be the first career meeting between the pair and it should end in a victory for the American, unless she has a really bad day

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 3 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 3 Match Previews & Predictions

The group stage of the WTA Elite Trophy continues in Zhuhai on Thursday with 3 critical matches.  The competition is starting to head up, the contenders are starting to be separated from the pretenders. The two tournament favourites will be in action on Thursday, Venus Williams will face local wild card Saisai Zheng whilst Caroline Wozniacki will make her first appearance of the week when she comes up against Svetlana Kuznetsova. 

Group A: (1) Venus Williams vs (12) (WC) Saisai Zheng

Local wild card Saisai Zheng will contest her first match of the tournament against Venus Williams in Thursday’s opening match of the day in Zhuhai. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, on paper it looks like a total mismatch. 

Venus Williams made a positive start to her Zhuhai campaign, claiming an extremely hard-fought 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory over compatriot Madison Keys in the first match of the tournament. Venus was the second best player for the majority of the first couple of sets but she used all of her experience to fight her way out of trouble before running away with the match in the deciding set. Venus can confirm her place in the semi-finals with a victory over Zheng. 


Saisai Zheng arrives in Zhuhai in terrible form, having lost 5 matches in a row including a first round loss at an ITF event in Nanjing last week. It would take an almighty effort from Zheng to even be competitive in a match against Venus Williams. 

Saisai doesn’t have any real weapons and is infamous for her use of a high loopy shots, her usual tactics are highly unlikely to trouble a determined Williams. Venus should win this one easily. 

Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets 
Group D: (5) Caroline Wozniacki vs (11) Svetlana Kuznetsova

Caroline Wozniacki will make her eagerly awaited Zhuhai debut on Thursday, the Dane will play Svetlana Kuznetsova who must defeat Wozniacki to keep her Zhuhai campaign alive after losing to Roberta Vinci in straight sets on Wednesday. 


These two ladies have a long history, Wozniacki leads the head-to-head series 6-4 but Kuznetsova has won 2 of their last 3 encounters. Wozniacki won their most recent clash 6-7 6-3 6-1 in Eastbourne earlier this year, I expect a similar result in Zhuhai. 

Wozniacki’s form during the Asian Swing was poor but after a couple of weeks off she should be refreshed and ready to compete at a high level in Zhuhai. The fast courts in Zhuhai don’t really suit Kuznetsova, Wozniacki should certainly find a way to win this one.

Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 3 sets 

Group C: (3) Karolina Pliskova vs (6) Sara Errani 

Perhaps the most intriguing match of the day is saved until last. When Karolina Pliskova and Sara Errani go head-to-head we will witness a clash of extreme contrasting styles. It will be fascinating to see how this match pans out. 

Karolina Pliskova made an impressive start in Zhuhai with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory over Jelena Jankovic. Pliskova looked down and out after dropping the second set, Karolina was seemingly exhausted by the start of the third set. However the Czech raised her level to an insane high, blasting winner after winner past Jankovic to claim a critical victory. 


Sara Errani was unable to defeat Jankovic in her opening group match, succumbing 4-6 5-7 to the Serb in a gruelling match. Errani won the only previous clash between the pair, a 6-1 6-3 win in Sydney back in 2013. 

Karolina Pliskova can confirm her spot in the semi-finals with a victory over Errani. If the Italian wins, things get very complicated as all 3 ladies in the group will end on 1 win apiece. Although Pliskova seemed to be struggling physically at times, I think she will be good enough to hit through Errani on these quick courts. Pliskova will be all over Errani’s serve, the key is for Pliskova to focus on her own serve. 

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets