Sunday, 30 September 2012

WTA Beijing: Seeds a-tumbling, Safarova and Errani out

Lucie Safarova
Four of the six seeds in action in Beijing were ousted as the draw continues to open up in Beijing like you would not believe! Sara Errani was the highest seed to fall as she retired down 5-4 in the first set of her first round match with Camila GiorgiMaria Kirilenko, who pulled out of Tokyo with an injury, struggled in a 6-3 6-3 loss to Ekaterina Makarova, who has become remarkably consistent of late.  Lucie Safarova suffered another shocking loss to Monica Niculescu, 6-2 6-0.  She won just one game in their last match at the US Open, which shows she has no idea how to deal with the Romanian's game.  Roberta Vinci also fell in three sets to Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 6-7 7-6 6-2, who now goes on to face Laura Robson.

Marion Bartoli managed to avoid the exodus of seeds with a confident 6-3 6-3 victory over Bojana Jovanovski, who has looked more useful in recent months.  I have picked Bartoli for the final in Beijing and I think she has a good shot to go deep this week.  Li Na also won in straight sets against Francesca Schiavone, 6-2 6-3.  Schiavone once again struggled with her serve as she made 12 double faults throughout the match.  Jelena Jankovic overcame a potentially tricky match-up with her doubles partner, Andrea Petkovic winning 6-2 6-4.  The German player has really struggled since returning from injury and I hope she can improve in 2013.  It will be tough for her as her ranking will plummet having made the final in Beijing last year, but I am sure she has the belief and fight to do it.  

You can view my original predictions for Beijing HERE

Saturday, 29 September 2012

ATP Tokyo: Preview and Predictions

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray return to action this week in Beijing and Tokyo.  Murray headlines the draw in Japan along with Tomas Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic and Juan Monaco.  Murray has a tough opener against Gael Monfils, who has made an impressive comeback from injury.  Berdych has a good draw and could meet home favourite, Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.  Janko Tipsarevic faces Gilles Simon in the first round, who he lost too in Bangkok this week, meanwhile Nicolas Almagro and Milos Raonic will look to have deep runs in the draw. 

In Beijing, Novak Djokovic is joined by David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet.  Djokovic opens with a qualifier and could meet the wildly unpredictable, Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarter-finals.  David Ferrer suffered a surprising loss to Julien Benneteau, 6-4 6-1 in the Kuala Lumpur semi-finals and could be vulnerable here; watch out for the unseeded Sam Querrey who should have the beating of Fernando Verdasco in round one and could threaten Ferrer in the quarters if he gets that far.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has drawn Denis Istomin in the first round, meanwhile Marin Cilic and Richard Gasquet are set to meet in the quarter-finals.

ATP Tokyo Final Prediction - Tomas Berdych d. Andy Murray
ATP Beijing Final Prediction - Novak Djokovic d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

You can view my full draw predictions for Tokyo and Beijing

WTA Beijing: Preview and Predictions

Apologies for the delay in getting my Beijing preview out as I have been away for the last few days.  This is one of the most difficult tournaments to predict with many of the top players suffering injuries and their participation is somewhat in the clouds.  Lets take a look at the draw...

QUARTER 1 - V.Azarenka v S.Errani
Sabine Lisicki
Victoria Azarenka was forced to pull out of her quarter-final match in Tokyo due to dizziness and her participation in Beijing remains questionable.  Azarenka opens up against Alize Cornet before a second round meeting with Sabine Lisicki or Anabel Medina Garrigues.  Azarenka appears to be feeling the effects of a long and tiring season and history would suggest that will not risk her health; therefore I think she will pull out at an early stage.  This could open up this section of the draw and presents a prime opportunity for the out-of-form Germans, Sabine Lisicki and Mona Barthel to  have a good run here; Lisicki has yet to win a match on hard courts since March but records are there to be broken and Medina Garrigues in round one is a very winnable match.

Sara Errani takes on fellow Italian, Camila Giorgi in the first round with the winner to meet another Italian, Romina Oprandi in the second round.  Errani was close to beating the Tokyo champion, Nadia Petrova in the quarter-finals but eventually fell away in a 3-6 7-5 6-3 loss.  She could meet Ana Ivanovic in the third round, who she defeated at the French Open in what was the beginnning of a fairytale run where she took out three Grand Slam champions.  Ivanovic has progressed into the second round having already beaten Christina McHale, 6-3 6-2 and I fancy the Serb to exact revenge on Errani; from what I can remember, Beijing is played on a pretty fast surface and that will play more into Ivanovic's hands...
Prediction - Lisicki v Ivanovic

QUARTER 2 - P.Kvitova v S.Stosur

Petra Kvitova was surprisingly ousted in the first round of play in Tokyo by Petra Martic and faces a stern opener against Daniela Hantuchova in Beijing.  I do not fancy Kvitova's chances in Beijing because of the problems of pollution in China, which will not help her asthma.  Lucie Safarova is projected to meet Kvitova in the third round and takes on Monica Niculescu in the first round; it would seem an easy match on paper as Niculescu is struggling in her comeback from injury but the Romanian did trounce Safarova, 6-0 6-1 at the US Open in one of the oddest results of 2011.  If Safarova prevails, she is likely to have her hands full with the winner of a first round match between Jelena Jankovic and Andrea Petkovic.

Sam Stosur has a bye in the first round by virtue of her semi-final appearance in Tokyo.  She was hampered by what appeared to be an abdominal injury against Nadia Petrova and therefore I am not sure how she will get on this week.  She plays either Vania King or Julia Goerges in the second round; the German has caused problems for Stosur before having won two of their three previous matches and I think she will surprise Stosur in round two.  This could be a good week for Marion Bartoli who takes on Bojana Jovanovski in the first round.  Her draw looks pretty open, especially if Stosur fails to perform...
Prediction - Jankovic v Bartoli

QUARTER 3 - L.Na v A.Radwanska
Nadia Petrova
Li Na has a tough draw at her home tournament with a 2011 French Open final rematch against Francesca Schiavone in the first round.  The winner then plays the Tokyo champion, Nadia Petrova, who will be riding a big wave of confidence having beaten three top 10 players on the way to the title.  The other seed in this section, Dominika Cibulkova has already been knocked out by Yaroslava Shvedova, who will play Yanina Wickmayer or Peng Shuai in the second round.  If Shvedova can keep her head screwed on, she could have a deer run here...

Agnieszka Radwanska reached the final in Tokyo and will need a repeat performance in Beijing where she is the reigning champion and defending big ranking points.  She will play Zhang Shuai in the second round before things will toughen in the third round.  Her projected opponent on seeding is Roberta Vinci, who beat Radwanska at the US Open; however Laura Robson is also in this section and has been in terrific form of late...
Prediction - Radwanska v Li

QUARTER 4 - A.Kerber v M.Sharapova
Angelique Kerber has a bye in the first round before a second round meeting against either Lara Arrubarena-Vecino or Zheng Jie.  Zheng did beat Kerber in Miami earlier this year and may be buoyed by the home crowd; however I would still stick by Kerber to get through.  Kerber could then meet Caroline Wozniacki in the third round.  The Dane has picked up her season having won the title in Seoul and making the quarter-finals in Tokyo with her first top 10 win of 2012 over Li Na.  She takes on Chanelle Scheepers in the first round and then would play the in-form and tricky, Hsieh  Su-Wei.

Maria Sharapova lost in the quarter-finals of Tokyo to Sam Stosur and never looked in peak form in any of her three matches.  She plays Simona Halep in the first round before a second round meeting with Sorana Cirstea or Sofia Arvidsson.  She is likely to face a Russian in the third round with Maria Kirilenko, Ekaterina Makarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova all residing in this section of the draw; I predict that Makarova will upset Kirilenko and then Pavlyuchenkova to make the third round.  Like Azarenka, I do not fancy Sharapova's chance much and think she will fall before the semi-finals...
Prediction - Kerber v Sharapova

Final Prediction - Angelique Kerber d. Marion Bartoli
This week is a free-for-all and I think there will be a lot of surprises just like last year's tournament where Monica Niculescu made the semi-finals.  Marion Bartoli has played well recently and I think she has a pretty good draw.  I don't think Kerber has played at her best recently, but she could easily pick up the pieces in the bottom half.  It is a tricky one this week to predict and I am NOT confident at all of my picks :-S

You can view my full predictions for Beijing HERE

Friday, 28 September 2012

WTA Tokyo: Final Predictions

I am away from my computer until tomorrow so just a quick mention that Agnieszka Radwanska and Nadia Petrova will contest the Tokyo Final. Radwanska produced a fantastic performance to beat Angelique Kerber, 6-1 6-1 hitting 20 winners to just 4 enforced errors. I fancy that Radwanska will win the final in straight sets. Beijing starts tomorrow and my preview will follow soon after when i get back!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

WTA Tokyo: Semi-Final Predictions

Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska v Angelique Kerber
Agnieszka Radwanska won the best-of-buddies clash with Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4 6-3.  It was a typical match between the two with gruelling rallies, some great play and some shocking too.  Radwanska was the more consistent player and was able to finish the points off better than Wozniacki.  Radwanska will now play Angelique Kerber who had a walkover into the semi-finals when Victoria Azarenka was forced to pull out of the tournament.  She struggled in her 3rd round match with Roberta Vinci due to dizziness.  Radwanska and Kerber last met in the Wimbledon semi-finals where the Pole won a tight two setter.  Kerber has not been tested at all this week, but I think she will have her hands full with Radwanska...
Prediction - Radwanska to beat Kerber in 3 sets

Nadia Petrova v Sara Errani
Yesterday I wrote that Nadia Petrova could crack at any moment, but in fact it was Sara Errani who folded as she wasted a set and a break lead as Petrova won 3-6 7-5 6-3.  Sam Stosur enjoyed one of her best victories of the year with a 6-4 7-6(10) win over Maria Sharapova.  It looked like Stosur had blown her chance when she served for the match at 6-4 5-4; however she did extremely well to stay cool and edge an enthralling tiebreak after missing several match points.  Petrova and Stosur have had a few humdingers in their time including earlier this year in Indian Wells.  Stosur won their last match quite comfortably at Roland Garros, but Petrova is likely to be stronger on a quicker surface... I still fancy Stosur to come through.
Prediction - Stosur to beat Petrova in 2 tight sets

You can view my original predictions for Tokyo HERE

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

WTA Tokyo: Quarter-Final Predictions

Maria Sharapova
1. Sam Stosur v Maria Sharapova
Sam Stosur was forced to fight hard to get past Francesca Schiavone in the second round, but had things easier in the third round as she defeated Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets.  Stosur will now play Maria Sharapova in a blockbuster quarter-final match.  Sharapova beat Lucie Safarova, 6-2 7-6, in a break-happy match featuring 12 breaks of serve.  The last time Stosur and Sharapova faced each other was in Stuttgart where Sharapova won an absolute epic in arguably the best WTA match this year.  Sharapova has won ten of their last eleven matches, but Stosur has gone toe-to-toe with the Russian in their last two matches and has the belief she can win following a victory in the round robin stage at the YEC last year.  I like how Sam has been playing lately and I am going for an upset here...
Prediction - Stosur to beat Sharapova in 2 tight sets

2. Agnieszka Radwanska v Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki set up a quarter-final match with Agnieszka Radwanska following a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Li Na.  It was Wozniacki's first top 10 win of the year although the stats were not kind on this match; I have never seen someone win a match with just six winners in a three set match lasting two and a half hours.  Li Na's 70+ unforced error count had a large factor in Wozniacki's win.  Radwanska defeated Jamie Hampton, 6-4 6-3 to follow up her second round win over Jelena Jankovic.  Wozniacki holds a significant edge in their head-to-head although Radwanska did manage a win in their last encounter in Sydney, which stopped a run of five straight wins from Wozniacki.  This promises to be a very close match between two good friends; I am going for Radwanska to win...
Prediction - Radwanska to beat Wozniacki in 3 sets

3. Victoria Azarenka v Angelique Kerber
Angelique Kerber has not been tested at all this week as she strolled into her first ever quarter-finals in Tokyo with a thrashing of Urszula Radwanska, 6-1 6-1.  Victoria Azarenka was forced to work a little harder as she defeated Roberta Vinci, 6-4 6-2.  If their last match is anything to go by then this should be a cracker.  Azarenka edged past Kerber, 6-4 7-5 at the Olympics in a match that featured a number of terrific rallies.  Kerber has failed to get a hold of Azarenka having failed to win a set off the Belarusian world number one in their two matches this year and I think she will struggle to reach Azarenka's level once again.
Prediction - Azarenka to beat Kerber in 2 sets

4. Sara Errani v Nadia Petrova
Sara Errani continued her stunning 2012 with another quarter-final follwoing an impressive win over Marion Bartoli as she recovered from the loss of the first set to win, 3-6 6-2 6-2.  Nadia Petrova also had to play three sets in an absolute epic with Petra Martic, 7-6 6-7 6-4 that lasted over 3 hours.  I have really underestimated Errani before but I think she might have the beating of Petrova.  She enjoyed a comprehensive win in their only previous encounter at this year's Australian Open.  She has also become extremely match tough as she demonstrated from today's comeback victory and in that department, she is far stronger than Petrova who could crack at any moment...
Prediction - Errani to beat Petrova in 3 sets

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

WTA Tokyo: 3rd Round Predictions

The Top 4 of Tokyo 3rd Round Matches
Li Na
1. Caroline Wozniacki v Li Na
This Asian swing has seen a return to form from Caroline Wozniacki, who now faces her toughest test of the past two weeks; step forward, Li Na who fought past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets in her second round match.  Wozniacki struggled past Bojana Jovanovski in the first round, but produced an extremely efficient performance to defeat Daniela Hantuchova, 7-6 6-1 with some superb serving statistics, which saw her lose just 3 points on her second serve throughout the entire match.  Wozniacki and Li have not faced off since their dramatic Australian Open semi-final in 2011 where Li saved match points to make the final with a 3-6 7-5 6-3 victory.  This promises to be a very interesting match and it is a tough one to call; I think it will go to the wire, but Li will edge it...
Prediction - Li to beat Wozniacki in 3 tough sets

2. Lucie Safarova v Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova was well below her best in the 2nd round as she laboured to a 6-7 6-3 6-4 victory over Heather Watson.  It was a gutsy effort from Watson who for the second time in a row stretched the Russian to three sets.  The match did sound like a horror show though with Watson having a -34 winner to unforced error differential and Sharapova making 67 unforced errors.  Sharapova's next challenge should be much tougher; Lucie Safarova had a walkover against Klara Zakopalova and has some weapons that can hurt Maria.  Safarova has beaten Sharapova before although I fancy the Russian to step up her game considerably from today...
Prediction - Sharapova to beat Safarova in 2 very tight sets

3. Sam Stosur v Dominika Cibulkova
Sam Stosur came through Tuesday's top match as she recovered from the loss of the first set to beat Francesca Schiavone, 4-6 6-2 7-5.  Stosur has had an up-and-down kind of year, but this ranks as one of her most impressive performances.  I do not normally associate Stosur with real fighting comeback wins, but she has definitely improved that side of her game this year.  Her opponent in the 3rd round is Dominika Cibulkova, who has enjoyed two straightforward wins in the opening two rounds against Anabel Medina Garrigues and Zheng Jie.  This is a pretty shoddy match-up for Cibulkova who discussed her difficulty in returning the Stosur kick serve after a pretty convincing loss in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros.  I also like Stosur's form recently and would have had her further if she hadn't drawn Sharapova in her quarter...
Prediction - Stosur to beat Cibulkova in 2 sets

4. Victoria Azarenka v Roberta Vinci
Victoria Azarenka was an emphatic winner over Tamira Paszek, 6-1 6-1 in her first match since the US Open final loss to Serena Williams.  I think she is the one to beat this week and she faces Roberta Vinci in the third round.  The Italian is enjoying a rich vein of form having won the title in Dallas, reaching the quarter-finals at the US Open and now two solid wins in Tokyo.  Her first round was a bit ropey against Barbara Zahlavova Strycova, but she was much more convincing today in a straight sets win over Pauline Parmentier.  Azarenka has won both her previous encounters with Vinci on the clay and I expect another win today although I anticipate the Italian will make it much more difficult than Paszek did.
Prediction - Azarenka to beat Vinci in 2 sets

Best of the rest:
Agnieszka Radwanska fought off a second set fightback from Jelena Jankovic to progress in straight sets, 6-2 7-5.  She next faces Kaia Kanepi's conqueror, Jamie Hampton who had Radwanska on the ropes back in Indian Wells before she had to retire.  Angelique Kerber takes on Urzsula Radwanska, who had one of the best wins of her career over Ana IvanovicMarion Bartoli and Sara Errani will take to Centre Court first and the final third rounder will see Nadia Petrova take on Petra Martic, who enjoyed her biggest career win against Petra Kvitova... a disappointing loss for the Czech player as I fancied her to have a deep run this week!

Agnieszka Radwanska
You can view my original predictions for Tokyo HERE

Monday, 24 September 2012

WTA Tokyo: 2nd Round Predictions

The Top 4 of 2nd Round Tokyo Matches
Francesca Schiavone
1. Agnieszka Radwanska v Jelena Jankovic
There is a fantastic line-up of matches in Tokyo tomorrow with all sixteen 2nd round matches taking to the court.  The last match up on Centre Court between Agnieszka Radwanska and Jelena Jankovic is my match of the day.  Jankovic was solid in her 6-3 6-3 victory over Yanina Wickmayer, meanwhile Radwanska had a bye in the first round.  The pair played at the US Open where Radwanska prevailed in a tight two setter; Jankovic had a lot of chances in that match, but Radwanska won all of the key points.  If Jankovic can maintain her concentration in the key moments she definitely has the beating of Radwanska; however I think that once again, Radwanska will be too match tough.
Prediction - Radwanska to beat Jankovic in 3 sets

2. Sam Stosur v Francesca Schiavone
Francesca Schiavone produced a gutsy display on Monday to save a number of match points to beat Yaroslava Shvedova, 4-6 7-6 6-4.  I fancied Shvedova to win that one quite easily, but the Kazakh's nerves once again got the better of her.  Schiavone will now take on Sam Stosur in an intriguing second rounder.  The pair have split their last six matches, with Stosur edging the overall head-to-head by 6 games to 4.  You would think Stosur would have this on a plate, but Schiavone eased through their last encounter at the start of the year in Sydney.  I fancy Stosur to win, although I am slightly cautious as you never know what Schiavone can conjure up...
Prediction - Stosur to beat Schiavone in 2 tight sets

Heather Watson
3. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Li Na
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is lucky to be in the second round as she edged past Chanelle Scheepers, 6-4 4-6 7-5; Scheepers served for the match and Pavlyuchenkova served up 20 double faults in that one.  She takes on Li Na in the second round.  Pavlyuchenkova has had a pretty torrid 2012 although her second half to the year has shown some marginal improvements in results.  She has struggled against the players she is supposed to beat, but often raises her game for the big guns.  Their last encounter was an ugly affair in New Haven, which Li Na won in three sets.  I do not think this will be a pretty match, but it promises to be competitive and a close call...
Prediction - Li to beat Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets

4. Maria Sharapova v Heather Watson
Heather Watson followed where Laura Robson left off from in Guangzhou with one of the best wins of her career with a 6-4 7-6 victory over Sabine Lisicki in the first round.  She had already come through two tough qualifying rounds and her reward is a second round match with world number two, Maria Sharapova.  Watson and Sharapova have played once before at the 2011 US Open where Watson produced a commendable performance before falling in three sets.  The Brit will no doubt give her all, but I don't think she has the weapons to pull of the upset of Sharapova.
Prediction - Sharapova to beat Watson in 2 sets

Best of the rest:
Victoria Azarenka opens her Tokyo account against Tamira Paszek; they last played in Canada where Azarenka had to retire from their match, but I think Azarenka should be able to finish this time round and with a win. Caroline Wozniacki was back to form in Seoul and takes on Daniela Hantuchova, meanwhile Petra Kvitova will play the dangerous, Petra Martic.  There are bound to be some upsets tomrrow although I am struggling to pinpoint which matches! 

Perhaps the best chance of an upset could be in the match between Marion Bartoli and Julia Goerges; Goerges has had a horrid run of late but had no dramas in her opening round win over Monica Niculescu.  If she can keep the ball in court then she has a good chance at getting past Bartoli...

Azarenka to beat Paszek in 2 sets
Wozniacki to beat Hantuchova in 2 sets
Kvitova to beat Martic in 3 sets
Kerber to beat Morita in 2 easy sets
Cibulkova to beat Zheng in 2 tight sets

You can view my original predictions for Tokyo HERE... I didn't have a great day but did correctly predict that Heather Watson would beat Sabine Lisicki.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

WTA Seoul: Prediction Review

Hsieh Su-Wei
I was successful in correctly predicting that Caroline Wozniacki would win this week in Seoul.  She enjoyed a somewhat surprisingly comprehensive rout of Kaia Kanepi in the final, 6-1 6-0.  I also correctly predicted that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga would retain his title in Metz, although I got most other predictions in that tournament wrong! In Guangzhou, not many would have predicted that Hsieh Su-Wei would win her second title of the year in an exciting and tense final with Laura Robson.  The Brit saved five match points in the second set and led 3-0 in the decider before Hsieh's trickery finally prevailed... a great effort and now onto the qualifying in Beijing.

This week, the women take on Tokyo, meanwhile the men head to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.  Play kicked off in a rainy Tokyo today where Jelena Jankovic defeated Yanina Wickmayer, 6-3 6-3 and Petra Martic upset Andrea Petkovic having been whitewashed in the opening set, 0-6 6-4 6-3  You can view my predictions for the three events below:

Saturday, 22 September 2012

WTA Seoul: Final Preview

Caroline Wozniacki will take on Kaia Kanepi in tomorrow's final in Seoul.  This is a big match for Wozniacki, who has yet to win a title all year, but has been building confidence match-by match this week.  She beat Ekaterina Makarova, 6-1 5-7 6-4 for a place in the final, meanwhile Kanepi was also forced to fight as she overcame Varvara Lepchenko in three sets, 6-4 2-6 6-4.  Wozniacki and Kanepi have had some epic encounters in the past with four of their five previous matches going to three sets.  Their last match was at the French Open where Kanepi blew a 6-1 5-1 lead before eventually defeating Wozniacki, 6-1 6-7 6-3 in an ugly encounter.  Kanepi has done extremely well to make the final and win four matches following a lengthy lay-off, but I think this could be one match too far and Wozniacki will win her first title in 2012...

Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Kanepi in 3 sets

WTA Tokyo: Preview and Predictions

It's time for Tokyo where the top eight all have byes in round one... lets take a look at the draw!

QUARTER 1 - V.Azarenka (1) v A.Kerber (5)
Victoria Azarenka
It has been just three weeks since the US Open Final, but Victoria Azarenka is back in action as the number one seed in Tokyo.  Azarenka lost a nailbiter to Serena Williams in three sets; it was a painful loss, but I think the way she dealt with the loss was admirable.  Tokyo will not be a priority for Vika, but will likely act as a stepping stone to maintaining her good form, ready for another potential showdown with Serena in Beijing and/or Istanbul.  She will play a Tamira Paszek or Camila Giorgi in the second round and then most likely, the US Open quarter-finalist, Roberta Vinci in the third round.

Angelique Kerber showed some signs of 2012 finally catching up with her as she suffered a disappointing 4th round loss to Sara Errani at this years US Open.  The German player has had a terrific season, like Errani, and will look to book her place at the Year-Ending-Championships (YEC) in Istanbul with a solid showing in her next two tournaments.  She will play either Sorana Cirstea or Ayumi Morita in the second round.  Kerber could be on course for an interesting third round match with Ana Ivanovic; the pair have met only once back in 2006 when Ivanovic prevailed in three sets.

Prediction - Azarenka vs. Kerber

QUARTER 2 - A.Radwanska (3) v L.Na (7)
Li Na
Agnieszka Radwanska endured a miserable summer hard court season as she suffered two thrashings by Li Na in Montreal and Cincy, and then lost to Roberta Vinci in the 4th round of the US Open.  Radwanska will have to buck her ideas up for the Asian Swing where she is defending many points having won the titles in Tokyo and Beijing.  She faces a testing opener against the winner of a first round match between Yanina Wickmayer and Jelena Jankovic; both have struggled of late, but I would actually give the edge to JJ in that one.  She could face the resurgent, Kaia Kanepi in the third round, who has always threatened the Pole, but never had the nerve to actually beat her.

Li Na was tipped as a dark horse at the US Open, but she was ousted by Laura Robson.  The Chinese player was looking strong up till that match having taken the title in Cincy.  She takes on either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Chanelle Scheepers in the second round.  Her third round opponent will come from an interesting section featuring Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova and Daniela Hantuchova; Makarova and Hantuchova play in the first round with the winner likely to face Wozniacki in round two.

Prediction - Kanepi v Li Na

QUARTER 3 - S.Errani (6) v P.Kvitova (4)
Sara Errani
Sara Errani has had an incredible year so far reaching the final of the French Open, the semi-finals of the US Open and claiming four titles.  She will play fellow Italian, Romina Oprandi or Johanna Larsson in the second round.  Errani could then play Marion Bartoli in the third round, who she defeated at New Haven in straight sets.  However Bartoli has since looked much stronger having reached the quarter-finals at the US Open with a stunning win over Petra Kvitova and a commendable effort against Maria Sharapova.

Petra Kvitova has had a very consistent year although would have disappointed with a 4th round exit to Marion Bartoli at the US Open.  She will be looking to have a strong week in Tokyo, where she made the semi-finals last year and has a very good draw.  She could take on Andrea Petkovic in the second round; the German player has been plagued by serious injuries this year and will play Petra Martic in the first round in her only her third tournament since Stuttgart.

Prediction - Kvitova v Errani

QUARTER 4 - S.Stosur (8) v M.Sharapova (2)
Sam Stosur
Sam Stosur was satisfied with her US Open efforts following an up-and-down 2012.  She went down fighting to the eventual runner-up, Victoria Azarenka in one of the best matches of the year.  Stosur is assured of a tough second round match against Yaroslava Shvedova or Francesca Schiavone; the Italian has looked woefully out-of-sorts since the Olympics and I would not be surprised if there is an announcement before the end of the year regarding her future.  Dominika Cibulkova potentially awaits in the third round for Stosur, who has always struggled to deal with the Aussie's kick serve.

Maria Sharapova returns to Tokyo where she picked up a nasty ankle injury that sidelined her for several months and limited her at the YEC last year. Sharapova could face Sabine Lisicki in the highlight of the potential second rounders.  They played twice on the grass this year and both matches were incredibly intense; Lisicki will first have to get past the qualifier, Heather Watson, who could be spurred on my Laura Robson's superb run to the final in Guangzhou.  The champion in Guangzhou, Hsieh Su-Wei is also in this section and could have what it takes to upset Lucie Safarova in the second round, who has always struggled against players with a lot of variety in their game.

Prediction - Stosur v Sharapova

Final Prediction - Victoria Azarenka d. Petra Kvitova
Azarenka and Sharapova look to be dead certs for the final on paper, but I am not so sure both will make it.  I think the conditions will favour Kvitova's game and she is my surprise tip for the final.  Azarenka has a good draw and should reach the final, edging past Li Na in a tough semi-final.  Sharapova has a tough draw with Lisicki and Stosur both lurking and I think she will fall in the semi-finals.  Whenever I tip Sharapova to win she never does and vice-versa so everyone should bet on her now! Last year many thought that Azarenka/Kvitova would be a rivalry to look forward too, but they have yet to play in 2012... perhaps this week?

You can view my full predictions for Tokyo HERE... these last two major events on the WTA tour normally have a lot of upsets but I can quite figure out where they are going to happen this year!

Friday, 21 September 2012

WTA Seoul: Semi-Final Predictions

Caroline Wozniacki
I cannot ignore Laura Robson's exploits in Guangzhou where she has reached the final recording wins over Zheng Jie, Peng Shuai and Sorana Cirstea along the way.  It really is a great effort from Laura, who takes on Hsieh Su-Wei in the final and I fancy her to nab her first ever WTA title, which would take her to the fringes of the top 50! Onto Seoul...

Caroline Wozniacki v Ekaterina Makarova
Caroline Wozniacki continued her steady progression through the draw as she eased past Klara Zakopalova in their quarter-final, 6-2 6-3.  Ekaterina Makarova was even more dominant as she defeated the reigning champion of Seoul, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 6-1 6-1.  Wozniacki holds a significant edge over Makarova having won all four of their previous encounters in straight sets and not losing more than four games in any of those sets.  In truth it is a perfect match-up for Wozniacki as Makarova cannot hit her off the court.  I think this match will have the same outcome as their previous matches, but I would favour Makarova to make it much tighter this time round...
Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Makarova in 2 tight sets

Kaia Kanepi v Varvara Lepchenko
Kaia Kanepi has slotted right back into form following many months off the tour with an achilles injury.  She beat Kiki Bertens, 6-4 6-4 as she recovered from a break down in the second set.  Varvara Lepchenko continued her excellent form of late as she defeated Tamira Paszek, 4-6 7-6 6-4 to make her first semi-final of the year.  Kanepi has the big strokes but Lepchenko should not be underestimated with her consistent game that could see her break the top 20 at the start of next week.  I originally went for Lepchenko to make the final and although I did not expect her to come up against Kanepi, I am going to stick by my original prediction and go for a comeback win for Lepchenko...
Prediction - Lepchenko to beat Kanepi in 3 sets

You can view my original predictions for Seoul, Guangzhou and Metz... Seoul has definitely been my most successful of the three!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

WTA Seoul: Quarter-Final Predictions

Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki v Klara Zakopalova
The former world number one, Caroline Wozniacki has looked in much better form this week with straight set wins over Arantxa Rus and Caroline Garcia.  She will fancy her chances of at least coming through the top half to make the final in Korea.  Her quarter-final opponent is Klara Zakopalova who snapped a five match losing streak against Garbine Muguruza in the first round and continued the winning ways with a 6-1 7-6 victory over Magdalena Rybarikova in the second round.  Zakopalova has weapons, but Wozniacki has the consistency and I believe the Dane will be too strong in this encounter...
Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Zakopalova in 2 tight sets

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez v Ekaterina Makarova
The second quarter is perhaps the most intriguing of the four in Seoul as the defending champion, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez goes up against the dangerous leftie, Ekaterina Makarova.  Martinez Sanchez benefited with a walkover from Nadia Petrova in the second round, meanwhile Makarova beat Jamie Hampton in 2 tight sets.  Martinez Sanchez has struggled with injuries this year, but is always a tricky player with her serve-and-volley game.  Makarova has had a very consistent year and is now on the verge of cracking the top 20 for the first time in her career.  I think Makarova will record her fourth straight win over Martinez Sanchez.
Prediction - Makarova to beat Martinez Sanchez in 2 tight sets

Kiki Bertens v Kaia Kanepi
Kiki Bertens has had a breakthrough year on tour winning her first title in Fes and recording big wins over Lucie Safarova, Nadia Petrova and Christina McHale.  This is only Berten's second quarter-final appearance at a WTA event and she will have her hands full with Kaia Kanepi.  The Estonian has looked in fine form this week following her comeback from injury and was a dominant 6-2 6-2 winner over Galina Voskoboeva. I originally went for Bertens to the semi-finals and she has done well to reach this stage.  I thought Kanepi might be rusty, but she seems to have hit the ground running and I think she will be too strong for Bertens.
Prediction - Kanepi to beat Bertens in 2 sets

Tamira Paszek v Varvara Lepchenko
The exit of Maria Kirilenko has opened up the chance for Tamira Paszek or Varvara Lepchenko to gain some solid ranking points in Korea.  Paszek enjoyed a tough win over Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round before strolling past Korean wildcard, Lee-So Ra in the second round.  Lepchenko has been very impressive this week and she held all her eight service games without facing a break point in a 6-4 6-1 win over Anabel Medina Garrigues.  Paszek leads the head-to-head 2-1, but their last encounter was an epic in Quebec City.  I am going for Lepchenko to prevail in this one...
Prediction - Lepchenko to beat Paszek in 3 sets

You can view my original predictionals for Seoul, Korea HERE.  I predicted four of the eight quarter-finalists, but could potentially score four out of four for the semi-finals ;-)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

WTA Seoul: Predictions Updated

Julia Goerges
1st round action finally kicked off at the Korea Open on Tuesday following a washout on Monday.  Caroline Wozniacki kicked things off in convincing fashion as she defeated Arantxa Rus, 6-1 6-2.  She was joined in the second round by Kaia Kanepi who beat Han-Sung-Hee, 6-1 6-0 in her first match since the French Open.  Varvara Lepchenko saved six second set points to defeat Camila Giorgi, 6-2 7-6; however Julia Goerges was not so lucky as she went down to Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 1-6 7-6 6-2.  Goerges's season which started promisingly with a 4th round appearance at the Australian Open, has dipped considerably since she beat Agnieszka Radwanska in the first round of the Olympics.  She has a great A-game, but her latest results have shown that she has no answers when things are not going so well.

I successfully predicted 10/12 first round results including wins for Kiki Bertens, Varvara Lepchenko and Magdalena Rybarikova.  You can follow my original predictions for Seoul HERE

Predictions for Wednesday's order of play at the Korea Open:
Kirilenko to beat Lee in 2 sets
Petrova to beat Dominguez Lino in 2 sets
Voskoboeva to beat Kanepi in 3 sets
Paszek to beat Suarez Navarro in 3 sets
Martinez Sanchez to beat Daniilidou in 2 tight sets
Bertens to beat Soler-Espinosa in 2 sets

Monday, 17 September 2012

ATP Metz: Preview and Predictions

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The men are back in action in Metz and St. Petersburg this week, and I will be focusing on the event in Metz.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga headlines the draw and will be looking to avenge a shock second round exit at the US Open to Martin Klizan.  He is by far the strongest player in the draw so if his brain is fully engaged he should win the title.  Tsonga has a bye in the first round before a second round meeting with Edouard Roger-Vasselin or a qualifier awaits.  He is due to meet Jarkko Nieminen in the quarter-finals.

Philipp Kohlschreiber is the number two seed and will face a tricky second round match against either Xavier Malisse or Benoit Paire.  Kohlschreiber has had an excellent year and has finally started to realise his potential; in the last two Majors, he has reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the US Open.  His projected quarter-final opponent is Gael Monfils, who makes his long awaited return from injury having not played on the tour since back in May.

Marcel Granollers and Florian Mayer are the next two highest seeds; Granollers has had a consistent year of late and is due to meet Nikolay Davydenko in a quarter-final showdown.  Mayer, who had a great week with the German Davis Cup team over the weekend, is likely to face the resurgent, James Blake in the second round.

Final Prediction - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Florian Mayer
I believe Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will come through the top half, meanwhile the bottom half is more up for grabs.  I fancy Mayer to beat Kohlschreiber in an all German semi-final.

You can view my full predictions for Metz this week HERE

I shall now be blogging this week with all the updates from this weeks tournaments so please keep reading :-)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

WTA Seoul: Preview and Predictions

I have some free time on my hands so here is my preview of this weeks WTA event in Seoul :-)

Caroline Wozniacki is the top seed in Seoul and she is still searching for her first title in what has been a disappointing 2012.  Wozniacki has shown glimpses of improvements within her game and was playing well in New Haven before a knee injury forced her to pull out of her semi-final match with Maria Kirilenko.  The injury was a big factor in a first round loss at the US Open to last week's Tashkent champion, Irina-Camelia Begu.  The Dane will look to regroup this week and opens up against Arantxa Rus in round one.  Her projected quarter-final opponent is Klara Zakopalova, who had a storming summer, but has since struggled for form losing her last five matches on tour.  She plays Garbine Muguruza in the first round before a match-up with either Magdalena Rybarikova or Kimiko Date Krumm awaits.

Caroline Wozniacki

The second quarter-final could see an all Russian affair with Nadia Petrova and Ekaterina Makarova projected to meet at this stage.  Makarova will play Polona Hercog, meanwhile Petrova takes on the clay court expert, Lourdes Dominguez Lino; both should make the quarters without too many issues.  Julia Goerges and Kaia Kanepi are the two highest seeds in the third quarter.  Kanepi makes her first appearance on the tour since the French Open.  The Estonian always seems to be hit by injury as she is starting to move up the rankings.  I do not expect her to go deep in the draw as she will no doubt be rusty and because she is the kind of player who needs matches under her belt to make an impression.  Goerges has looked incredibly irratic recently, so I do not hold much hope for her in Seoul.

Ekaterina Makarova
Maria Kirilenko is the number two seed and will look to continue her excellent year.  She suffered a disappointing third round exit at the US to Andrea Hlavackova and will look to bounce back in Seoul.  She takes on the Korean player Lee, So-Ra in round one before meeting either Tamira Paszek or Carla Suarez Navarro in the most interesting of the first-rounders.  Varvara Lepchenko is Kirilenko's projected seed in the quarter-finals.

Final Prediction - Caroline Wozniacki d. Varvara Lepchenko
I think Wozniacki has made the right choice playing this tournament in Seoul as with a lower calibre of field, she has the chances to rack up the wins and more importantly, her confidence.  She is the type of player who loves to play lots and lots of matches and although many criticised her schedule when she was world number one, she needs to get back to winning ways.  I fancy the consistent American, Varvara Lepchenko to reach the final.

There is also a tournament this week in Guangzhou, China, which features Marion Bartoli, Zheng Jie, Peng Shuai and Sorana Cirstea.  Laura Robson also plays her first match since her excellent run at the US Open and could play the second seed Zheng in round two.

You can view my full predictions for Seoul and Guangzhou

Friday, 14 September 2012

The 2012 Asian tennis swing approaches...

Andy Murray
The dust is still settling on the final Grand Slam of 2012, which saw Serena Williams and Andy Murray reign supreme at the US Open.  The 2012 tennis season is really winding down, but the tennis just keeps on coming.  This week, there have been two WTA tournaments in Tashkent and Quebec City.  The 16-year-old, Donna Vekic has had a stunning run to the final in Tashkent, meanwhile the top two seeds in Canada (Cibulkova and Wickmayer) were out before the quarter-finals making way for a sure-fire surprise final line-up.

The Asian swing is about to kick off next week in Seoul and Guangzhou for the ladies and follows a week later for the men.  I will be away for the next few days, but will be blogging again in the middle of next week.  Although the season is slowly packing up, I will be producing previews and predictions for the the remaining tournaments including the season-ending-championships. I also have much planned during the off season including a review of my favourite 20 matches of the season... why not take a look at my review of the top matches on the WTA tour in 2011!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Andy Murray wins the US Open!!!

I have never been so nervous checking my phone to find out that a tennis result, but it was all smiles to realise that Andy Murray had finally earnt his first Grand Slam title at the fifth attempt in another epic 2012 Grand Slam final that took nearly five hours.  Murray beat Novak Djokovic, 7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 to round off an incredible 2012, which has seen each of the big four claim one slam.  

Andy looked totally relieved and a bit shocked too that he had finally managed to do it and he looked absolutely knackered in the picture of him holding the trophy; I think he was tired to really show any  outward emotion!  I still remember that Grand Slam final in Australia where he was thumped by Djokovic and so many people were doubting him, saying he would never win one.  You have to hand it to Murray on the hard work he has put in and how he has dealt with the immense pressure of the British media.  I am sure the next Grand Slam will be even sweeter and I am certain there will be many more along the way ;-)

And I am pleased to have had a correct prediction :-) I called Murray to win from the start and I also thought it would be five sets! I really felt this was his time and I am so happy that Murray has finally done it :-)

Monday, 10 September 2012

US Open: Serena Williams edges Victoria Azarenka in three set finale

Serena wins the US Open
Serena Williams claimed her second Grand Slam title of the year as she defeated Victoria Azarenka, 6-2 3-6 7-5 in one of the best finals we have witnessed on the ladies side for quite sometime.  Serena was at her punishing best in the first set, in particular ripping the return, but her game went off the boil in the second set and Vika stepped up her level too to make it one set all.  Azarenka led 5-3 in the final set and was two points from the match at one stage, but she just could not exert her authority against Serena who came roaring back to take the title.  

Azarenka was extremely positive in her post-match conference despite her inability to serve the match out.  She has had a terrific 2012 and to take a set off Serena was particularly impressive with many people predicting a complete whitewash.  Although Azarenka is the world number one, no-one can deny Serena is the best player in the world.  Petra Kvitova tweeted Serena this afternoon saying congrats to Serena and mentioned how she is pushing everyone to be better and better, which I think is true to some extent.  

For so long, particularly during the phase where Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, the womens game lacked a driving force, but Serena is playing close to her best and there is some healthy competition behind her with the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber in the chasing pack.  Azarenka definitely has the potential to push Serena hard if she can keep improving and develop some pop of the serve. I think this was a fantastic tournament for the WTA and I think the Season Ending Championships are going to be very interesting in Istanbul...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

US Open Mens Final: Preview and Predictions

Andy Murray
Andy Murray progressed to his second US Open final with a 5-7 6-2 6-1 7-6 victory over Tomas Berdych in horrendous conditions on Saturday.  After losing the opening set, Murray looked to be strolling into the final as he had two break points to lead 4-0 in the fourth set; however Berdych staged a surprising fightback and he even held a set point in the final tiebreak before Murray dug deep to make his second consecutive Grand Slam final.

Murray's opponent in the final will be Novak Djokovic, who defeated David Ferrer, 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-2.  The match began yesterday with Djokovic in disarray in the torrential gusts as Ferrer raced into a 5-2 lead.  The match was postponed in rather bizarre fashion with a full-scale evacuation of Arthur Ashe due to the impending weather conditions.  When they came back, the match was all Djokovic as he tore through Ferrer to make another US Open final.

The head-to-head is quite even with Djokovic leading by 8 wins to 6 and both players beating each other twice this year.  Djokovic won their last match on the hard courts of Miami and also won that terrific tussle in the Australian Open semi-finals, which remains as my favourite mens match of the year so far.  Murray however won their last match at the Olympics in a tight two setter.  Djokovic has been playing extremely well but after the Olympics I have just had the feeling that this is Murray's time to claim his first Grand Slam title... come on Murrrrrray!!!

Prediction - Murray to beat Djokovic in 5 sets

You can view my original predictions for the mens draw, which have been pretty good! If Murray wins, it will have been a very successful week :-)

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Womens US Open Final Serena Williams v Victoria Azarenka: Preview and Predictions

Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka will contest the 2012 US Open final tonight under the lights of the Arthur Ashe stadium.  Serena Williams has been in utterly devastating form up to this stage and she continued her destruction of the draw with a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Sara Errani in the semi-finals.  In truth, her draw has not been as testing as Azarenka's with Errani and Ana Ivanovic the highest seeds she has had to play, but no-one can doubt that she will be the favourite going into the final.

Victoria Azarenka has looked back to her very best form that saw her win four titles at the beginning of the year including the Australian Open.  She defeated Maria Sharapova in a thrilling slugfest of a semi-final, 3-6 6-2 6-4.  In particular, the third set was of the highest order and Azarenka has demonstrated the tremendous improvements she has made in her mental game to defeat Stosur and Sharapova in tough three setters.  She is still unbeaten in three set matches in 2012 and broke Sharapova's unbeaten record in three setters, which had stretched back to the US Open last year where she lost to Flavia Pennetta.

Everything points to Serena winning another US Open title; she has lost just one match since the French Open to Angelique Kerber in Cincy and she has been utterly dominant on the tour, particularly through the grass court season.  She has also had great success over Azarenka winning nine of their ten matches and in the one that the Belarusian did win, Serena was rather hampered by an injury in the 2009 Miami final.  There have been some tough encounters over the time and I thought Azarenka actually did a good job in the semi-finals of Wimbledon this year.  She lost 6-3 7-6, but faced an onslaught of 24 aces from Serena, which is a whole set of aces!

The key for Azarenka is to serve well and start strong.  In their last four encounters, Azarenka has lost the first set handily before posing a tougher test in the following set.  If she is to upstage Serena then she has to start with intent and give Serena something to think about.  If Azarenka can get Serena on the ropes then she does have a chance in this match.  This US Open has been a really strong one for the ladies and some of the matches over the last few days have been extremely encouraging for the future of the tour.  I think the final will be another good match and that Azarenka will have the strength and courage to force it into three sets, but I still believe Serena will be too tough on the day...
Prediction - Serena to beat Azarenka in three sets

You can view my original predictions that I made for the womens draw at the start of the fortnight.  Unfortunately I have missed the boat again and once more, when I predict against Serena she goes and nails it! I will learn!!!

US Open: Mens Semi-Final Predictions

Andy Murray v Tomas Berdych
Tomas Berdych produced a stirring performance in the quarter-finals to beat the world number one Roger Federer, 7-6 6-4 3-6 6-3.  It may have been a surprise to many, but Berdych has been gathering steam throughout the tournament and has had success over Federer on the big stage before at the Olympics and Wimbledon too.  Andy Murray recovered from a set and 5-1 deficit to beat Marin Cilic, 3-6 7-6 6-2 6-0.  The Brit was in big trouble before the Croatian hit the self-destruct button.  Both have played well up to this stage and a big opportunity of a US Open final awaits the winner...

Berdych is going to be a real tough competitor for Murray to get past.  He is essentially a better version of Cilic and although he has been prone to mental collapses, he is unlikely to fold in the same way that the Croatian did in the quarter-finals.  The head-to-head also shows that Murray struggles with the Berdych game; he is 2-4 with Berdych winning 4 of the last 5 matches they have played.  They have played twice this year with Berdych prevailing in three sets in Monte-Carlo and Murray winning in Dubai.  I think this will be a very tense match with so much up for grabs, but I am sticking by Murray to make the final.

Prediction - Andy Murray to beat Tomas Berdych in 4 tight sets

Novak Djokovic v David Ferrer
Novak Djokovic has looked in excellent form throughout this year's US Open and with the exit of Roger Federer, will be the favourite on paper to win the title.  Djokovic overcame Juan Martin Del Potro, 6-2 7-6 6-4 in a tough three setter.  The Argentine threw everything at Djokovic in a marathon second set but the Serb's defence was just too good.  David Ferrer had his hands full with Janko Tipsarevic in the quarter finals as he recovered from two sets to one down and a 4-1 fifth set deficit to make the semi-finals with a 6-3 6-7 2-6 6-3 7-6 victory.  It was one of, if not the best mens match at this year's Open and Tipsarevic played some incredibly strong tennis in the middle of the match.

Ferrer's attitude and fighting spirit on the court is second to none and I would love to see him make a first Grand Slam final.  His record against Djokovic is 5-8, but the Serb has won four of their last five matches and all three of their Grand Slam clashes.  Djokovic has looked so impressive this week and unfortunately for the Spaniard, I do not think he has enough in the bag to trouble the world number two.

Prediction - Novak Djokovic to beat David Ferrer in 3 sets

You can view my original predictions that I made at the start of the fortnight for the mens draw HERE.  Its not a bad week and I am potentially on course to correctly predicting the final two.