Venus Williams vs Garbine Muguruza, Wuhan Final Preview

Wuhan Final: Venus Williams vs (5) Garbine Muguruza

Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza advanced through a bizarre semi-final day to set up a clash in Saturday’s final at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. Both Venus and Garbine seemed to pick up injuries towards the end of their semi-final matches but both managed push through the pain. There is now uncertainty surrounding both Venus and Garbine heading into the final, hopefully we will see a full match with any retirements.

Venus Williams has rocketed into genuine contention to qualify for Singapore this week on the back of some stunning performances. The American started the week off particularly well, recording commanding straight set victories over Agnieszka Radwanska, Julia Goerges and Carla Suarez Navarro. The next two victories were not so straight forward for Venus, clinching marathon three set victories over Johanna Konta and Roberta Vinci.

 

Venus seemed to really run out of energy towards the end of her matches with Konta and Vinci. Venus also seemed to pick up an injury towards the end of her semi-final clash. Nevertheless, Venus wasn’t looking for excuses and kept fighting like a true champion and ultimately came out on top. Venus is now ranked 13th in the live race to Singapore standings and can move all the way up to 9th with a victory over Garbine Muguruza on Saturday.

Garbine Muguruza has been in stunning form this week, producing some scintillating tennis to reach the biggest final of her career. Garbine has all but confirmed her position at her first WTA Finals campaign, the Spaniard can clinch her spot in Singapore with a victory on Saturday. Garbine will also reach a career high ranking when the new rankings come out on Monday, Garbine is currently ranked 5th in the live rankings and will move up to 4th if she claims the title.

 

Garbine started the week in stunning form with a commanding straight set victory over Sloane Stephens before winning 12 of the last 13 games to rocket past Ana Ivanovic. The Spaniard went on to secure her place in the final with straight set victories over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Angelique Kerber. Garbine’s performance against Kerber was quite impressive, she was clearly the better player throughout the match, totally dictating the play with her punishing play form the baseline. However a fall towards the end of the match threatened to halt Garbine’s progress, after a medical time-out at 3-3 in the second set tiebreak Garbine came out swinging and with a bit of luck she got the job done.

Venus Williams holds a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over the Spaniard. Their most recent encounter took place in Auckland last year, Venus recorded a relatively comfortable 6-3 6-3 win.

It’s almost impossible to predict what will happen in this match given the injury concerns surrounding both ladies heading into the final. If both ladies are able to play out the match, I think Garbine has the clear edge. This is a good match-up for Garbine, the Spaniard will be able to take care the American’s weak second serve and can handle the American from the baseline.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Venus Williams in 2 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs Angelique Kerber, Wuhan SF Preview

Wuhan SF #2: (5) Garbine Muguruza vs (6) Angelique Kerber

The blockbuster semi-final of the day at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open sees Garbine Muguruza take on Angelique Kerber, the winner of this semi-final will be the strong favourite to claim the title on Saturday. Garbine and Angelique have built up quite a rivalry in 2015, Angelique won their first meeting in Sydney but Garbine won when it mattered most, claiming victories at Roland Garros and Wimbledon over the German.

Garbine Muguruza is having a wonderful week in Wuhan, recapturing the form that saw her reach her first career Grand Slam final earlier this year at Wimbledon. Garbine has been close to unplayable this week when she has been at her best, the Spaniard started the week with a commanding 6-2 6-0 victory over Sloane Stephens before winning 11 of the last 12 games to defeat Ana Ivanovic 4-6 6-1 6-0. Garbine’s third set against Ivanovic was almost flawless, committing just 1 unforced error whilst blasting Ivanovic off the court in a scintillating performance.

 

Garbine Muguruza booked her spot in the final 4 with a commanding 6-2 6-2 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. It was another superb performance by the Spaniard who never let the Slovakian settle into the match. Garbine Muguruza is now almost certain to reach her first ever WTA Finals campaign in Singapore, Garbine currently sits in 5th place in the live race and will also reach the top 5 in the rankings for the very first time when the new rankings come out next week.

Angelique Kerber is also very close to securing her spot at the upcoming WTA Finals in Singapore, Angie is up to 7th in the live race standings and can confirm her place at the season finale by claiming her fifth title of the year this week in Wuhan. Angie’s progression through the draw this week hasn’t been quite as impressive as Garbine’s, but she has done what she had needed to do. Angie started the week with a three set victory over Jelena Jankovic before defeating Camila Giorgi and CoCo Vandeweghe in straight sets.

 

Angie and Garbine have one of the most competitive rivalries on tour, the two seem to bring out the best in each other. Angelique Kerber holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Muguruza, however the Spaniard has won 2 of their 3 meetings in 2015 including their two most recent matches. Garbine came from a set down to defeat Angie at Roland Garros before defeating the German 7-6 1-6 6-2 in a memorable match at Wimbledon. Importantly, Kerber has won all three of their previous encounters on a hard court.

This is a really tough match to call, this is one of the most event match-ups on tour. Garbine does have the firepower to hurt Angie, however the medium pace hard courts in Wuhan probably help Angie in this match-up. Kerber will still be hurting from her previous two losses to Garbine and will be desperate for revenge on Friday evening. Furthermore, Angie’s form has been far more consistent than Garbine’s over the last couple of months so I’m going to side with her.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Garbine Muguruza in 3 sets

Venus Williams vs Roberta Vinci, Wuhan SF Preview

 Wuhan SF #1: Venus Williams vs (15) Roberta Vinci

The first semi-final of the day at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open features an unexpected match-up between two of the veterans of the tour when Venus Williams comes up against Roberta Vinci. Both Venus and Roberta are playing some of the best tennis they have played for years, the winner of this match will keep their slim chances of reaching the WTA Finals in Singapore well and truly alive.

Venus Williams is into her third semi-finals of 2015, the American has been in vintage form this week playing some of her best tennis in recent years in Wuhan. Venus waltzed through her opening three matches of the week, recording straight set victories over Agnieszka Radwanska, Julia Goerges and Carla Suarez Navarro. The American’s quarter-final match didn’t go as smoothly, the American laboured to a 6-4 3-6 7-5 victory over British qualifier Johanna Konta. Venus seemed to be very low on energy towards the end of the third set but somehow managed to win the last four games of the match to set up a semi-final clash with Roberta Vinci. 

 

Roberta Vinci has carried her outstanding form from New York to Wuhan. The U.S Open finalist has now won 10 of her last 11 matches including 3 victories over top 10 opponents. Roberta made a wobbly start to her Wuhan campaign with a three set victory over Danka Kovinic but since then the Italian has been in clinical form, recording straight set victories over Irina-Camelia Begu, Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova. The Italian’s 7-6 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova was particularly impressive, it was an extremely clean performance by Roberta who dominated behind her serve and effectively mixed up the play for the baseline.

Venus Williams has a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record over the Italian. All three victories were on a hard court and all three victories were in straight sets, however the two haven’t met since Venus defeated Vinci 7-6 6-4 in Luxemburg back in 2012. This looks like Roberta’s greatest opportunity to record a victory over Venus, it will be tough for the American to recover from her gruelling quarter-final victory over Konta. Vinci is not the type of opponent a fatigued Venus would like to come up against, I think an in form Vinci can get the job done here. Vinci has had great preparation for this match, defeating Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova, similarly powerful opponents.

Prediction: Roberta Vinci to defeat Venus Williams in 3 sets

Angelique Kerber vs CoCo Vandeweghe, Wuhan QF Preview

Wuhan QF: (6) Angelique Kerber vs CoCo Vandeweghe

The fourth and final quarter-final of the day at the Wuhan Open sees Angelique Kerber come up against CoCo Vandeweghe. Angelique Kerber is now very close to securing her spot at the WTA Finals in Singapore whilst CoCo Vandeweghe has finally found the form which saw her reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon a couple of months ago. This will be an interesting match between the big serving, powerful American and the strong, counterpunching German.

Ever since claiming back-to-back titles in Charleston and Stuttgart, Angelique Kerber has been one of the most consistent performers on tour. Angie has continued her consistent from to start the Asian swing, reaching the quarter-final stage in Tokyo and now in Wuhan. As a result, Angie is now well positioned to reach the WTA Finals in Singapore, the German is now ranked 7th in the live race and should be considered one of the favourites to perhaps go all the way and claim the title this week at the Wuhan Open. 

 

Angelique Kerber received a bye into the second round where she defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-4 2-6 6-2. The German played some outstanding tennis in the final set of her match against Jankovic and carried that form into her 6-2 6-4 third round win over Camila Giorgi. Angie played an extremely solid match, playing smart tennis by committing just 9 unforced errors and forcing Giorgi to eventually go for too much.

CoCo Vandeweghe has come through extremely tight matches to reach the quarter-final stage in Wuhan. The American has recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since her run to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon earlier this year. Vandeweghe defeated Lesia Tsurenko in three topsy-turvy sets in the first round before saving two match points to defeat Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-7 7-6. The American booked her spot in the quarter-finals with another deciding set tiebreak victory, coming from a set down to defeat Barbora Strycova 3-6 6-2 7-6.

 

Angelique Kerber won the only previous encounter between the pair in Stanford last year, a 7-6 0-6 6-2 victory. As that match showed, Vandeweghe does have the ability to get on top of Kerber, but her ability to sustain a high enough level for long enough to hit past the German is very questionable. Angie will enter this match knowing how important it is for her chances of reaching Singapore, the determined German will ultimately be too solid for the American.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat CoCo Vandeweghe in 2 sets

Johanna Konta vs Venus Williams, Wuhan QF Preview

Wuhan QF: (Q) Johanna Konta vs Venus Williams

An unexpected Quarter-final match-up at the Wuhan Open on Thursday evening sees British qualifier Johanna Konta come up against a rejuvenated Venus Williams. Johanna Konta enters this match in the form of her life, having won 21 of her last 22 matches. Venus Williams also enters this match in great form, winning her first three matches in Wuhan in straight sets and in convincing style. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.

Johanna Konta’s outstanding form has continued in Wuhan, the Brit arrived in China in career best form having won two ITF titles and come through qualifying to reach the fourth round in New York. Konta came through the qualifying draw in Wuhan without dropping a set before picking up a 6-4 7-5 upset victory over Andrea Petkovic in the first round. Konta advanced to the third round courtesy of Victoria Azarenka retiring from their second round match with an injury after dropping the first set.

 

It was in the third round that Johanna Konta picked up her biggest scalp, recording the biggest victory of her career with a 6-3 3-6 7-5 win over the top seeded Simona Halep. Konta trailed 1-5 in the final set but never stopped fighting as a wayward Halep twice failed to serve out the match. Konta did well to make the most of the situation, winning 6 straight games to claim a famous victory. Konta will enter her quarter-final clash with Venus Williams full of confidence, the Brit is now set to enter the top 50 for the very first time.

Venus Williams has been in vintage form this week in Wuhan, recording three straight set victories to storm into the quarter-finals. The American started the week by rocketing 50 plus winners past Agnieszka Radwanska in a 6-1 7-6 victory before recording a comfortable 6-4 6-3 win over German qualifier Julia Goerges. Venus became the 9th woman in the open era to record 700 career victories with her second round win over Goerges, an outstanding achievement. Venus continued her impressive week on Wednesday with a solid 6-3 6-4 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro, the American’s 6th victory over a top 10 opponent in 2015. Venus has served particularly well this week whilst her backhand her been on fire.

 

This will be the first career meeting between Johanna and Venus, both ladies enter this match in great form and will both see this as a massive opportunity. Venus looks to have the clear edge in this match-up, Konta’s game shouldn’t really trouble Venus, the Brit is the type of opponent Venus likes to play against. The American’s superior experience could also be a big factor here, especially if the match is close. This is a rare opportunity for Venus to reach the later stages of a big event at this stage in her career, I don’t see her letting such an opportunity slip by against Konta.

Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets

Karolina Pliskova vs Roberta Vinci, Wuhan QF Preview

Wuhan QF: (8) Karolina Pliskova vs (15) Roberta Vinci

Thursday’s first quarter-final at the Wuhan Open sees Karolina Pliskova come up against U.S Open finalist Roberta Vinci. This promises to be a fascinating encounter between two in form players with contrasting styles. Pliskova is now very close to securing her spot in Singapore, a victory over Vinci would be extremely valuable for the Czech. Vinci will be no pushover, the Italian has maintained her stunning form which saw her reach her first Grand Slam final in New York earlier this month.

Karolina Pliskova’s run to the quarter-finals in Wuhan has been very important in raising her chances of reaching a first career WTA Finals campaign in Singapore. Karolina Pliskova is now up to 8th in the live race to Singapore standings. Pliskova has come through two extremely tough matches this week, after receiving a bye into the second round Pliskova recorded an extremely hard-fought 7-6 5-7 7-6 victory over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The Croatian served for the match in the third set but Pliskova remained composed and played some awe3some points in the final set tiebreaker to get the job done.

 

Pliskova’s third round victory was even more impressive, the Czech came from a set down to defeat a determined Elina Svitolina 2-6 6-4 6-4. Pliskova seemed to be heading for a straight set loss but really raised her intensity towards the end of the second set and changed the course of the match. Pliskova’s firepower ultimately proved too much for Svitolina to handle.

Roberta Vinci has backed up her run to the final at the U.S Open impressively well in Wuhan. Vinci started the week with a three set victory over Danka Kovinic before defeating Seoul champion Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets. It was in the third round that Vinci really impressed, recording a 7-6 6-2 victory over defending champion Petra Kvitova. Vinci trailed 0-4 in the first set before winning 13 of the last 17 games to cause yet another huge upset. Vinci’s game seems well suited to the slower courts in Wuhan, she will like her chances against Karolina Pliskova on Thursday.

 

Roberta Vinci thumped Karolina Pliskova 6-1 6-0 in their only previous encounter which took place on the clay in Katowice back in 2013. A lot has changed since then, Karolina Pliskova has improved markedly.

Many are predicting Vinci to be too solid for a somewhat fatigued Pliskova, however I think Pliskova will be good enough to get the job done here. Karolina has a lot to play for, another couple of victories in Wuhan would see her all but secure a spot at the WTA Finals for the first time in her career. If Karolina serves well, she will then be able to put enough pressure on the Vinci serve to create enough opportunities to win this one. Karolina really impressed me against Svitolina, I think she is smart enough to get passed Vinci.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Roberta Vinci in 2 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Wuhan QF Preview

 Wuhan QF: (5) Garbine Muguruza vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

Two of the tour’s most promising rising stars will go head-to-head at the quarter-final stage of the Wuhan Open on Thursday when Garbine Muguruza comes up against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Garbine Muguruza is now just won win away from reaching the top 5 for the first time in her career and is a couple of victories away from confirming her position at the WTA Finals in Singapore. This is also an extremely important match for Schmiedlova, a real chance to solidify her spot in the top 30 and guarantee a seeding at the first Grand Slam of 2016.

Garbine Muguruza struggled to back up her spectacular run to the final at Wimbledon during the North American summer. The Spaniard seems to have finally settled in Wuhan, producing her two best victories since Wimbledon to advance to the quarter-final stage. After receiving a bye into the second round, Muguruza began her week with a commanding 6-2 6-0 thrashing of Sloane Stephens. Garbine backed up that performance by winning 11 of the last 12 games to defeat Ana Ivanovic 4-6 6-1 6-0.

 

Garbine played near flawless tennis in the final two sets of her third round victory over Ivanovic, reminding us all of what she is capable of when she is at her brilliant best. Garbine will like her chances of moving forward in Wuhan when she comes up against an opponent she has never lost to on Thursday, a real chance to take a big step towards her first appearance at the upcoming WTA Finals in Singapore.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova has also had an impressive week in Wuhan, reaching her 8th quarter-final of the year. Schmiedlova started the week with a routine straight set victory over Duque-Marino before recording one of the biggest victories of her career when she came from 1-6 1-4 down to defeat Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 in the third set. Schmiedlova backed up her victory over Wozniacki with a very mature performance to defeat Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-2 to set up an intriguing quarter-final clash with Garbine Muguruza, Schmiedlova will be searching for her first career victory over the Spaniard.

 

Garbine Muguruza holds a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Schmiedlova. Both of their previous meetings took place in 2014, both won by Muguruza in straight sets: a 6-3 6-3 win in Melbourne before a 6-2 6-4 win at Roland Garros.

This seems like a good match-up for Garbine, the Spaniard does most things better than Schmiedlova, the Slovakian will need to rely on her superior defensive skills and hope Muguruza has an off day. That seems unlikely, Garbine has played some awesome tennis this week and should be too powerful for Schmiedlova. With a position in Singapore on the line, this is a match Garbine simply cannot afford to lose.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Anna Schmiedlova in 2 sets

Simona Halep vs Johanna Konta, Wuhan R3 Preview

Wuhan R3: (1) Simona Halep vs (Q) Johanna Konta

Top seeded Simona Halep will continue her quest for the Wuhan Open title on Wednesday evening when she comes up against British qualifier Johanna Konta. Simona Halep made a commanding start to her Wuhan Open campaign on Tuesday with a comprehensive victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Johanna Konta also enters this match in form, the Brit has won 19 of her last 20 matches coming into this third round encounter.

Simona Halep received a bye through to the second round in Wuhan where she faced Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, it looked like a potentially dangerous match for the Romanian but she was never threatened. Simona needed little over an hour to record a comprehensive 6-2 6-1 victory over the Russian. It was a very clean performance by the Romanian, hitting 19 winners and just 7 unforced errors, showing how tough she can be to compete with when she is at her solid best.

 

Johanna Konta is the only remaining qualifier in the Wuhan Open draw. The Brit is in the form of her life having won 19 of her last 20 matches including two ITF titles and a run to the fourth round at the U.S Open. Konta is yet to drop a set this week in Wuhan, coming through both her qualifying matches quite comfortably before defeating Andrea Petkovic 6-4 7-5 in the first round. The Brit advanced to the third round courtesy of Victoria Azarenka retiring injured during their second round clash on Tuesday, a lucky break for Johanna.

This will be the first career meeting between Simona and Johanna. This should be a relatively straightforward match for the Romanian top seed. It will be extremely difficult for Konta to find ways to hit through Simona who was at her consistent best in her victory over Pavlyuchenkova on Tuesday. Simona is one of the best returners on tour, which really takes away Konta’s biggest strength.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets

Petra Kvitova vs Roberta Vinci, Wuhan R3 Preview

 Wuhan R3: (3) Petra Kvitova vs (15) Roberta Vinci

Defending Champion Petra Kvitova will continue her title defence on Wednesday when she comes up against U.S Open finalist Roberta Vinci in the third round at the Wuhan Open. Petra Kvitova made an unconvincing start to her Wuhan campaign on Tuesday, just scrapping must Daria Gavrilova, whilst Roberta Vinci has continued her winning ways after her stunning run to the final in New York earlier this month.

In her first appearance since her run to the quarter-finals at the U.S Open, Petra Kvitova just snuck past Daria Gavrilova with a 6-3 4-6 7-5 victory on Tuesday night. It was a gruelling match, Gavrilova was at her troublesome best, running down just about everything and frustrating Kvitova into hitting unforced errors. The final set was extremely close but Kvitova’s extra experience and superior firepower saw her just get over the line. Kvitova will face a similar challenge when she comes up against Roberta Vinci on Wednesday. Petra is now extremely close to confirming her spot at the WTA Finals in Singapore, currently in 4th position in the live race, another couple of victories will confirm her place.

 

Roberta Vinci stunned the tennis world last month by defeating Serena Williams and advancing to the final in New York. The Italian has handled the added pressure on herself quite well so far in Wuhan, recording victories over Danka Kovinic and Irina-Camelia Begu to advance to the third round. Vinci still an outside chance to qualify for Singapore, she will need to go on another giant-killing run in Wuhan if she is to keep her slim hopes alive.

Petra Kvitova holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Roberta Vinci. Kvitova has won the last two encounters between the pair, the only two clashes on a hard court. The most recent encounter took place in Beijing last year, Kvitova prevailed 7-6 6-4. This is an interesting match-up, Kvitova certainly has all the power to trouble Vinci, however the Italian’s unorthodox game can frustrate Kvitova. The Czech should be smart enough to come through this match, she just needs to remain patient and the opportunities will come.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Roberta Vinci 3 sets

Kristina Mladenovic vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Wuhan R3 Preview

Wuhan R3: Kristina Mladenovic vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

An unexpected third round match-up at the Wuhan sees Kristina Mladenovic take on Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. This will be the first career meeting between Mladenovic and Schmiedlova, a wonderful opportunity for both to reach a rare premier 5 level quarter-final and pick up valuable ranking points.

Kristina Mladenovic is finally starting to live up to her enormous potential. The Frenchwoman reached her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final at the U.S Open last month and she now has an opportunity to go on a deep run in Wuhan. Mladenovic started her week with a convincing 6-1 6-4 victory over Patricia Tig before advancing to the third round with a 7-5 1-6 6-2 win over Madison Keys. It was a big victory for Mladenovic, another big scalp she has claimed in 2015.

 

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova continues to impress. The Slovakian reached the semi-finals in Seoul last week and has made a fabulous start to her Wuhan campaign. Schmiedlova recorded a 6-4 6-4 first round victory over Duque-Marino before picking up arguably the biggest victory of her career in the second round where she defeated Caroline Wozniacki 1-6 6-4 7-6.

Schmiedlova trailed 1-6 1-4 and looked destined for a routine loss, however the Slovakian really raised her level, matching Wozniacki from the baseline in a stunning display to turn the match around. The Schmiedlova backhand more than matched Wozniacki’s famous backhand, the Slovakian did well at the end of the match to maintain her composure as Wozniacki took several medial timeouts at questionable times.

This will be the first career meeting between Mladenovic and Schmiedlova, this is a critical match for both, a great opportunity to reach the quarter-finals. I’m leaning towards Schmiedlova, the Slovakian is just a little more reliable and is far more solid from the baseline. It will be tough for Mladenovic to hit through Schmiedlova.

Prediction: Anna Schmiedlova to defeat Kristina Mladenovic in 3 sets