Thursday, 28 February 2013

ATP Dubai: Semi-Final Predictions

Novak Djokovic
1. Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin Del Potro (Dubai, SF)
The Dubai quarter-finals were as anticipated, all very predictable with four straight set wins for the top four seeds.  The semi-finals should at least see some more competitive contests and the first of those will see Juan Martin Del Potro take on a top 10 player for the first time in 2013; the world number one, Novak Djokovic was in destructive form as he beat Andreas Seppi, 6-0 6-3, meanwhile Del Potro had another straight sets win, this time over Daniel Brands, having saving match points in his opening match of the tournament against Marcos Baghdatis.  Djokovic leads the head-to-head by 7 wins to 2 with the most recent of those matches at the World Tour Finals where Djokovic recovered from a slow start to win in 3 sets.  Del Potro has had a few niggles with his wrist this week and mainly for that reason, I think Djokovic will win this rather comprehensively...

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Del Potro in 2 sets

2. Roger Federer v Tomas Berdych (Dubai, SF)
The second semi-final I believe will be much more competitive as Roger Federer takes on Tomas Berdych.  Federer handed Nikolay Davydenko another convincing beatdown with a 6-2 6-2 victory, meanwhile Berdych beat Dmitry Tursunov for the second time in as many weeks having eased past the Russian player in Marseille last week.  Federer and Berdych have an interesting head-to-head with Fed leading by 11 wins to 5.  Berdych has enjoyed some big wins over Federer at two Grand Slams including their most recent encounter at the US Open and at the Olympics in 2004.  I originally went for Federer to beat Tsonga, but I think with Berdych now progressing to the semi-finals, a minor upset is potentially on the cards.

Prediction - Berdych to beat Federer in 3 sets

ATP Acapulco Predictions
Ferrer to beat Lorenzi in 2 sets
Giraldo to beat Fognini in 3 sets
Almagro to beat Zeballos in 3 sets
Nadal to beat Mayer in 2 sets

WTA Acapulco Predictions
Suarez Navarro to beat Schiavone in 3 sets
Dominguez Lino to beat Cornet in 2 tight sets
Knapp to beat Soler-Espinosa in 2 sets
Errani to beat Bertens in 2 sets

WTA Florianopolis Predictions
V.Williams to beat Rybarikova in 2 tight sets

My predictions for Florianopolis and ATP Acapulco have been great... so far! You can view my original predictions by clicking on the links at the top of the page.  The rest has been so-so...

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

ATP Dubai, WTA/Acapulco, ATP Delray Beach: 2nd Round and Quarter-Final Predictions

Nikolay Davydenko
1. Nikolay Davydenko v Roger Federer (Dubai, QF)
Roger Federer enjoyed a more straightforward match in Dubai compared to his first rounder as he overcame Marcel Granollers in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.  His reward is a 21st clash with Nikolay Davydenko, who followed up an upset win over Janko Tipsarevic with a straight sets win over Victor Hanescu.  Davydenko has been solid in 2013 up till now with a final appearance in Doha and appears to be marginally more consistent than last year. Davydenko broke the duck with wins over Federer at the World Tour Finals (in 2009) and Doha (in 2010), but he is not at the same level as then.  Davydenko lost to Federer at the Australian Open, 6-3 6-3 6-4 and although I think it will be tighter in Dubai, Federer should not have too many problems in reaching the semi-finals.

Prediction - Federer to beat Davydenko in 2 tight sets

2. Sara Errani to beat Eugenie Bouchard (Acapulco, R2)
The number one seed in the women's draw for Acapulco, Sara Errani takes on one of the promising talents on the tour in her second round match.  Eugenie Bouchard won the Wimbledon Juniors title last year and had some good wins on the tour towards the backend of 2012.  She has not started 2013 so well, but has managed to turn things around in Brazil with three qualifying wins and a straight sets win over Eva Birnerova in the first round.  Errani cooly dispatched of Alexandra Cadantu, 6-3 6-2 in her first tour match on clay this year.  I think Bouchard will be an excellent player in years to come but in this encounter, Errani will have too much patience and experience...

Prediction - Errani to beat Bouchard in 2 sets

Denis Istomin
3. Denis Istomin v Tommy Haas (Delray Beach, R2)
There are a pick of good matches from Delray Beach today and the one I have chosen to preview is that involving the number two seed, Tommy Haas.  The German veteran was lucky to get through his first round match when Igor Sijsling retired just before the third set.  His opponent in round two, Denis Istomin was also on the ropes as he battled back from losing the first set to get past Benjamin Becker, 6-7(3) 6-4 7-5.  Both players have had good results in North America; Istomin made the semi-finals last week in Memphis including a win over John Isner, meanwhile Haas made the final in San Jose.  This promises to be a tight match, but I like Istomin's form this year, plus he has a win over Haas under his belt...

Prediction - Istomin to beat Haas in 3 sets

ATP Dubai Predictions
Del Potro to beat Brands in 2 tight sets
Berdych to beat Tursunov in 2 sets
Djokovic to beat Seppi in 2 sets

WTA Acapulco Predictions
Suarez Navarro to beat Foretz Gacon in 2 sets
Karatantcheva to beat Schiavone in 3 sets
Soler Espinosa to beat Begu in 3 sets
Oprandi to beat Knapp in 3 sets

ATP Acapulco Predictions
Ferrer to beat Odesnik in 2 sets
Nadal to beat Alund in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Almagro to beat Robredo in 3 sets

ATP Delray Beach Predictions
Querrey to beat Gulbis in 3 long sets
Dodig to beat Donskoy in 2 tight sets

WTA Florianopolis Predictions
Mladenovic to beat Czink in 2 tight sets
Cepelova to beat Puchkova in 3 sets
Niculescu to beat Babos in 2 sets

It has been a mixed bag of predictions; Florianopolis has been excellent and the Acapulco womens draw has been good so far, but my champion has gone from Delray Beach as Nishikori pulled out of his first round match.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

ATP Dubai: 2nd Round Predictions

A crazy week of tennis with six tennis tournaments in different timezones and all at different stages too! My full predictions at the top of the page have now been updated.

Juan Martin Del Potro
1. Juan Martin Del Potro v Somdev Devvarman (Dubai, R2)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic both lost in straight sets on a day of surprises in Dubai, but it could have been a trio of shocks as Juan Martin Del Potro saved three match points on his way to a gutsy win over Marcos Baghdatis, 4-6 6-4 7-6(4).  The Argentine won the title in Rotterdam, but struggled in Marseille last week and may be suffering with his wrist once again.  His next opponent is Somdev Devvarman, who is making very steady progress on the tour following a 2012 that was blighted by injuries.  He dismissed Igor Kunitsyn in the first round, 6-1 6-4 and would appear to be a match for a struggling Del Potro.  A retirement is a possibility for Del Potro and Devvarman is a useful player so I think there could be an upset to watch out for if Del Potro is indeed, struggling with an injury...

Prediction - Devvarman to beat Del Potro in 3 sets

Roger Federer
2. Roger Federer v Marcel Granollers (Dubai, R2)
Roger Federer wobbled at the start of his Dubai campaign as he lost the first set of his match to Malek Jaziri, but he rebounded strongly to pull through with a 5-7 6-0 6-2 win.  Federer should be able to shake off some more rust against Marcel Granollers, who defeated Albert Montanes in straight sets today.  Federer and Granollers have met once before and that also took place in Dubai where the world number two came through in straight sets.  I predict an easy win for Federer, who will want to disspell the memories of a poor first round match.

Prediction - Federer to beat Granollers in 2 sets

ATP Dubai Predictions: Best of the rest
Berdych to beat Kamke in 2 sets
Djokovic to beat Bautista-Agut in 2 tight sets
Youzhny to beat Brands in 3 sets
Seppi to beat Rosol in 2 sets
Llodra to beat Tursunov in 2 sets
Davydenko to beat Hanescu in 2 sets

WTA Florianopolis: 2nd Round Predictions
V.Williams to beat Muguruza in 2 sets
Cepelova to beat Beck in 3 sets
Niculescu to beat Mrdeza in 2 tight sets
Babos to beat Scheepers in 2 sets
Mladenovic to beat Malek in 2 sets

Monday, 25 February 2013

ATP/WTA Acapulco: Preview and Predictions

The final tournament this week is a joint event in Acapulco, which sees the end of the Latin America swing for the men with the best draw of the lot.

ATP Acapulco
David Ferrer
Rafael Nadal plays his third tournament on his comeback and could meet his toughest opponent yet in David Ferrer.  Ferrer is the top seed and opens against Albert Ramos.  He won in Buenos Aires last week and could meet his final opponent, Stanislas Wawrinka in the semi-finals; Wawrinka could meet David Nalbandian in the second round.  Nadal is the number two seed and has a very favourable draw with the out-of-form, Thomasz Bellucci his first possible seed in the quarter-finals. Nicolas Almagro could await in the semi-finals, which would be Nadal's highest ranked test to date. Horacio Zeballos is in Almagro's quarter, but he has not won a match since beating Nadal in the Vina del Mar final.
1st Round Predictions - Ferrer to beat Ramos in 2 tight sets, Lorenzi to beat Paire in 3 sets, Wawrinka to beat Fognini in 2 sets and Kuznetsov to beat Bellucci in 3 sets

QF Predictions - Ferrer/Lorenzi, Wawrinka/Giraldo, Berlocq/Almagro and Mayer/Nadal

Final Prediction - Ferrer d. Nadal

WTA Acapulco
Sara Errani
The women's draw is to be honest, pretty lacklustre.  Sara Errani, who continues to defy logic with her heavy schedule, will transfer from the fast courts of Dubai to the clay courts of Brazil.  Her recent form would suggest she is the clear favourite to take the title.  The highest seed she could meet before the final is Alize Cornet, but it is likely that the winner of a first round match between Lourdes Domingues Lino and Flavia Pennetta will go deep in the draw.  In the bottom half, Carla Suarez Navarro and Irina-Camelia Begu are the highest seeds, but watch out for the number 8 seed Romina Oprandi, who is my tip for the final.

1st Round Predictions - Errani to beat Cadantu in 2 sets, Bertens to beat Rus in 2 sets, Dominguez Lino to beat Pennetta in 3 long sets and Suarez Navarro to beat Johansson in 2 sets

QF Predictions - Errani/Bertens, Cornet/Dominguez Lino, Oprandi/Minella and Karatantcheva/Suarez Navarro

Final Prediction - Errani d. Oprandi

Sunday, 24 February 2013

ATP Dubai, Delray Beach: Preview and Predictions

Three ATP tournaments will take place in Dubai, Delray Beach and Acapulco this week.

ATP Dubai
The world's top two, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will be in Dubai this week.  The draw features 6 of the world's top 10, but only 7 of the top 30.  Djokovic opens up against good friend Viktor Troicki and has a pretty routine draw; he is projected to meet Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-finals.  Federer takes on Malek Jaziri in the first round and is seeded to meet Janko Tipsarevic in the quarter-finals.  The Serb is on a bad run of form and will struggle to get past Nikolay Davydenko in the first round.  Bernard Tomic will also be dangerous in this section of the draw.  Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who met in today's Marseille final, could meet again in the quarter-finals.  The winner of Berdych/Tsonga could certainly threaten Federer, but I am going for a safe final prediction for Dubai.

1st Round Predictions - Djokovic to beat Troicki in 2 sets, Seppi to beat Mathieu in 3 sets, Del Potro to beat Baghdatis in 3 sets, Kavcic to beat Youzhny in 3 sets, Tsonga to beat Llodra in 2 tight sets and Davydenko to beat Tipsarevic in 2 sets

QF Predictions - Djokovic/Seppi, Kavcic/Del Potro, Tsonga/Berdych and Tomic/Federer

Final Prediction - Djokovic d. Federer
ATP Delray Beach
Another week in America and another almost identical line of players will play in Delray Beach this week.  John Isner headlines with an opener against Jesse Levine and previous form would suggest to look elsewhere for a title winner.  Kevin Anderson does join the line-up and could meet Isner in the quarters.  Kei Nishikori is playing well this year and he could meet Feliciano Lopez in the quarter-finals, which would be a rematch of the final in Memphis.  Sam Querrey and Tommy Haas are the top acts in the bottom half and are seeded to meet in the semi-finals.  Alexandr Dolgopolov and Denis Istomin are also looming in the draw.  The same suspects are the favourites, but if injury-free and not too tired from his Memphis exploits, I fancy Nishikori to win the title

1st Round Predictions - Isner to beat Levine in 2 tight sets, Sock to beat Ebden in 2 sets, Malisse to beat Falla in 3 long sets, Querrey to beat Russell in 2 tight sets, Dodig to beat Dolgopolov in 3 sets and Haas to beat Sijsling in 3 sets

QF Predictions - Isner/Anderson, Nishikori/Lopez, Qualifier/Querrey and Dodig/Istomin

Final Prediction - Nishikori d. Querrey

WTA Florianopolis, Kuala Lumpur: Preview and Predictions

This week there are three International WTA events in Acapulco, Florianopolis and Kuala Lumpur.

WTA Florianopolis
Venus Williams headlines the line-up for a new WTA event in Florianopolis, Brazil on hard courts. The rest of the draw is pretty sub-standard so Venus will fancy her chances of taking her second title since making her comeback to the tour last year in Miami.  Venus is projected to meet Memphis semi-finalist, Magdalena Rybarikova in the quarters and then the number 3 seed, Kirsten Flipkens in the semi-finals.  Yaroslava Shvedova bookends the draw, but she has been in terrible form this year and seems incapable of converting winning positions in her matches.  Shvedova takes on Melinda Czink in the first round and could meet the improving, Kristina Mladenovic in the quarter-finals.  Chanelle Scheepers and Anabel Medina Garrigues are the two remaining seeds making up the Florianopolis draw.

1st Round Predictions - V.Williams to beat Lucic in 2 sets, Rybarikova to beat Date-Krumm in 3 sets,  Niculescu to beat Medina Garrigues in 3 sets and Czink to beat Shvedova in 2 tight sets

QF Predictions - V.Williams/Rybarikova, Flipkens/Cepelova, Niculescu/Savinykh and Mladenovic/Czink
Final Prediction - V.Williams d. Mladenovic
WTA Kuala Lumpur
The line-up for Kuala Lumpur this year rivals that of Tashkent from last year as the world number 99, Kristyna Pliskova makes it into the draw as the number eight seed.  The draw does feature Caroline Wozniacki, but it has been significantly padded out with players residing outside of top 100. Wozniacki's first test is likely to come in the semi-finals where she could meet Ayumi Morita, who has claimed some impressive wins in 2013 so far.  In the bottom half, Hsieh Su-Wei and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are the highest seeds and could meet in the semi-finals.  Wozniacki should be a shoe-in for the title, but if Pavlyuchenkova can win her first match since the beginning of January and find her form again, she could upstage Wozniacki if they both reach the final.

1st Round Predictions - Pliskova to beat Dellacqua in 3 sets, Pavlyuchenkova to beat Dushevina in 3 sets, Vekic to beat Mattek-Sands in 3 sets and Hsieh to beat Nara in 2 sets

QF Predictions - Wozniacki/Doi, Morita/Qualifier, Pliskova/Pavlyuchenkova and Vekic/Hsieh
Final Prediction - Wozniacki d. Pavlyuchenkova

I am away from my computer this weekend so will post my full draw predictions on Monday evening.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

WTA Dubai: Petra is back, Kvitova edges Errani in three set finale

Petra Kvitova
I was quite certain that Saturday's Dubai final between Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani would be a complete walkover for Petra, but once again, I underestimated Errani who won her first ever set against Kvitova in four matches.  Kvitova romped through the opening set, 6-2.  She won the first seven points of the match and looked extremely sharp, destroying most of Errani's second serves.  Out of nowhere though, Errani went on a rampage of her own in the second set, winning six games in a row to take the set, 6-1.  Errani completely changed her gameplan and started to charge the net, which took Kvitova by surprise and she began to panic a little with her shots.

Errani had break points on Kvitova's first two service games in the decider, but the Czech player showed great determination to fend off those break points.  Kvitova started to adapt to Errani's serve and volleying and broke the Italian at 2-1.  The rest was history and Kvitova wrapped up a 6-2 1-6 6-1 victory.  Kvitova has completely resurrected her year over the past two weeks although I am still unsure of whether she will challenge in Indian Wells and Miami because of the humidity.  I gained a little more respect for Errani, which had been lost after having to watch the monstrosity of her first round match with Julia Goerges.  

In Marseille, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made the final with easy semi-final wins and they could play against each other once more in the Dubai quarter-finals.  Next week the men are in Dubai, Delray Beach and Acapulco.  I will be uploading my previews tomorrow and since I am away from my computer, will be posting my full predictions on Monday evening.  After next week's tournaments, we will be gearing up for the first Premier Mandatory events in Indian Wells and Miami so busy times ahead...

WTA Dubai, Memphis: Final Predictions

Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova v Sara Errani (Dubai, F)
The story of the week in Dubai has been the improvment of Petra Kvitova, who has taken full advantage of the withdrawals of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.  She takes on Sara Errani in the final, who came through her semi-final against BFF, Roberta Vinci in straight sets. Errani is actually having a pretty good year and is still racking up the points for her ranking; it is not until the Spring when she will have to start defending all her points on the clay.  Kvitova leads the head-to-head 3-0 and this final promises to be little of a contest.  Kvitova has eased past Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki, and Errani is the ultimate counter-puncher producing little to no winners.  Congratulations Petra, it is great to see you back in winning form :-)

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Errani in 2 sets

Sabine Lisicki v Marina Erakovic (Memphis, F)
Sabine Lisicki has made her second consecutive final on the WTA tour as she recovered from deficits in both sets of her semi-final with Magdalena Rybarikova to win 7-5 7-5.  She takes on Marina Erakovic, who eased past Stephanie Voegele in straight sets.  Lisicki appears to be reaping the benefits of her new coach, Ricardo Sanchez, who certainly divides opinions, but gets the results.  I also like her scheduling this year, playing the lower ranked tournaments and building her confidence with wins, which I think is crucial to her progress.  Lisicki and Erakovic met in Pattaya a few weeks ago and Lisicki came through in 3 sets.  I predict another tight match, but Lisicki to grab her first title of 2013.

Prediction - Lisicki to beat Erakovic in 3 sets

ATP Marseille Predictions:
Tomas Berdych to beat Dmitry Tursunov in 2 sets
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to beat Gilles Simon in 3 sets

ATP Memphis Predictions:
Kei Nishikori to beat Marinko Matosevic in 2 tight sets
Denis Istomin to beat Feliciano Lopez in 2 sets

Thursday, 21 February 2013

WTA Dubai, ATP Marseille: Friday Predictions

Caroline Wozniacki
1. Caroline Wozniacki v Petra Kvitova (Dubai, SF)
It was just over a year ago when Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova were the top two in the rankings, but since then, both have struggled to reach those heights again.  Perhaps this week is a sign of things to come in 2013 as the pair will face in the Dubai semi-finals.  Kvitova had a torrid time in Australia, but she appears to have regained her confidence with some excellent performances in Doha and Dubai.  She had her best win in well over a year as she tore past Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2 6-4 in the quarter-finals.  The Pole spent the entire match chasing balls down and had absolutely no answers in preventing Kvitova's raw power.  

Wozniacki recovered from the loss of the opening set to edge past Marion Bartoli in a 4-6 6-1 6-4 quarter-final battle.  Wozniacki is playing much better of late, but her form has been somewhat overshadowed by the horrendous antics of her father, Piotr.  Wozniacki and Kvitova are 3-3 in their head-to-head, but Kvitova has won their last two matches with a three set semi-final win in Montreal last year.  Wozniacki, like Radwanska, lacks the weapons, but I think she has more to offer against Kvitova tomorrow.  This week looks like its opening up for Kvitova and it is unlikely that Wozniacki will have enough game to throw a spanner in the works...

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Wozniacki in 2 sets

2. Bernard Tomic v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Marseille, QF)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
There are a strong line-up of matches for the Marseille quarter-finals, but the pick of the bunch is probably the second one on the schedule between Bernard Tomic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  Both did very well in Australia, but struggled last week in Rotterdam falling in the opening round.  Tomic beat Somdev Devvarman in straight sets today, but is lucky to have made the quarter-finals having come from match point down to Martin Klizan in the first round.  Tsonga beat Nikolay Davydenko in a tight two setter for his first win since Melbourne after a very surprising loss to home favourite, Igor Sijsling last week in Holland.  It is important for Tomic to consolidate his good form from Australia and making the quarters has been a solid week  Beating Tsonga would make it a a great week, but I think the Frenchman will prevail...

Prediction - Tsonga to beat Tomic in 2 tight sets

Dubai Predictions:
Sara Errani to beat Roberta Vinci in 2 sets

Memphis Predictions:
Sabine Lisicki to beat Magdalena Rybarikova in 2 tight sets
Marina Erakovic to beat Stephanie Voegele in 3 sets

Marseille Predictions:
Juan Martin Del Potro to beat Gilles Simon in 2 sets
Gilles Muller to beat Dmitry Tursunov in 2 sets

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

WTA Dubai, WTA/ATP Memphis, ATP Marseille : 2nd Round and Quarter-Final Predictions

I am feeling better and am ready to resume blogging duties!  There has been so much going on this week with six tournaments (3 WTA and 3 ATP).  Let's take a look at the best matches for Thursday.

Petra Kvitova
1. Petra Kvitova v Agnieszka Radwanska (Dubai, QF)
The top two favourites remaining in the Dubai draw will play each other in the highlight of Thursday's quarter-finals.  Petra Kvitova has played much better in the last two weeks and was terrific in defeating Daniela Hantuchova yesterday.  She did not make things easy for herself today as she encountered wobbles at the end of both sets with Ana Ivanovic before eventually winning, 7-5 7-6(1).  Agnieszka Radwanska beat Yulia Putintseva in a scratchy performance, 7-5 6-3; Putintseva, who had beaten Laura Robson in round one, gave a very solid account of herself against the world number four.

Kvitova and Radwanska last met in Istanbul where the Pole enjoyed a straight sets win over an injured Kvitova, but the Czech player had won their three previous matches before that.  Kvitova is playing much better, perhaps since those big wins in the Fed Cup and she pushed Serena all the way in Doha.  The match will come down to how Kvitova plays and the fast court certainly favours her; however I would be a fool to underestimate Radwanska, who has enough tricks up her sleeve to rock the Kvitova boat.  I think Kvitova is on the way up, but I believe tomorrow, Radwanska will be the mentally stronger player...

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Kvitova in 3 sets

2. Caroline Wozniacki v Marion Bartoli (Dubai, QF) 
Victoria Azarenka withdrew from Doha on Tuesday and Serena Williams followed suit on Wednesday giving Marion Bartoli a walkover into the quarter-finals.  She takes on Caroline Wozniacki, who has lost just five games in her first two matches.  She eased past a terribly irratic Lucie Safarova in round one and rather surprisingly tore past Zheng Jie today in a 6-0 6-1 thumping.  Wozniacki and Bartoli have not played each other since the 2011 Indian Wells final when Wozniacki as the world number one, won in three sets.  Bartoli has been missing something in 2013, but always has the potential to spring an excellent performance from her locker.  Wozniacki is playing pretty well at the moment though and I like her chances in this match-up...

Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Bartoli in 2 tight sets

3. Juan Martin Del Potro v Michael Llodra (Marseille, R2)
Juan Martin Del Potro
2013 is starting to click into place for Juan Martin Del Potro after a shaky start in Australia.  Del Potro did not concede a set on his way to the title in Rotterdam last week and as the number two seed in Marseille, he will be one of the favourites to scoop the title.  His first match of the week will be against Michael Llodra, who has strung together some very respectable results of late including a semi-final showing in Montpellier.  He always does well on home soil and especially, fast indoor courts.  Del Potro edged Llodra when the pair played in the semi-finals of Marseille last year, but Llodra did enjoy a win over Del Potro in Bercy.  The Frenchman will be a real danger, but Del Potro is playing well at the moment and should be too solid.

Prediction - Del Potro to beat Llodra in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: WTA Dubai predictions
Nadia Petrova to beat Sara Errani in 2 sets
Sam Stosur to beat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets

Best of the rest: WTA Memphis predictions
Kirsten Flipkens to beat Magdalena Rybarikova in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP Memphis predictions
Denis Istomin to beat Lleyton Hewitt in 2 sets
Kei Nishikori to beat Donald Young in 2 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Marseille predictions
Janko Tipsarevic to beat Dmitry Tursunov in 2 sets
Gilles Simon to beat Roberta Bautista-Agut in 2 tight sets
Julien Benneteau to beat Jerzy Janowicz in 2 tight sets

I have updated my original draws; my womens draw for Memphis looks good so far, but Dubai has been, as I expected, ravaged by key withdrawals.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

WTA/ATP Memphis, WTA Dubai and ATP Marseille Predictions posted

My predictions for the following week can all be viewed by clicking on the relevant tabs above.

Victoria Azarenka finally beats Serena Williams, 7-6(6) 2-6 6-3 in Doha Final

Victoria Azarenka
The Doha final did not fail to disappoint as Victoria Azarenka claimed just her second ever victory over Serena Williams with a 7-6(6) 2-6 6-3 victory in an engaging finale.  Azarenka played a terrific final set, outhitting Serena from the baseline and playing the crucial points remarkably wellThe win should certainly give Azarenka a great deal of confidence and gives some weight to the potential of the Azarenka/Serena rivalry  The fact that the top four all made the semi-finals is good, but a lack of rivalries (just look at the semi-final scorelines) is what is really missing.  After flopping in the semi-finals, I am glad to have nailed my final prediction from yesterday in which I went for Vika in 3 sets.

In the other tournaments this week, Rafael Nadal claimed his first title since his comeback with a surprisingly one-sided 6-2 6-3 win over David Nalbandian in Sao Paulo.  He looked far from his best all week though and those pesky knees still seem to be bothering him.  Juan Martin Del Potro won in Rotterdam, beating Julien Benneteau in the final and, Tommy Haas and Milos Raonic will play out the San Jose final.  There are a host of tournaments next week, but I am feeling under the weather so I will just be posting my predictions without previews, which you can look at using the tabs at the top of the page.

Highlights from Serena/Vika

Saturday, 16 February 2013

WTA Doha Final Serena Williams v Victoria Azarenka: Preview and Predictions

Victoria Azarenka
The head-to-heads for the semi-finals both look lopsided on paper and things went completely with the form book as Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka set up a mouthwatering Doha final.  Azarenka was first through to the final as she beat Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-3 6-3.  Azarenka played well, but Radwanska had little to offer in terms of resistance apart from a brief spell of intent in the second set.  Serena defeated Maria Sharapova, 6-3 6-2 in the other semi-final with another result that was never in doubt.  It was a sloppy performance from Sharapova who once again failed to even trouble Serena.  I find it hard to understand how one of the best competitors on the WTA tour can be so intimidated by Serena that every time she flops without barely a whimper.

Although the head-to-head for the final is like that of the semi-finals, there is certainly belief that the Azarenka/Serena match-up can become more competitive.  Remember the US Open final where Azarenka served for the title last year and although she has lost 11 times to Serena, I strongly believe that a win will come sooner rather than later for Azarenka.  Serena has not been on her A-game this week and in particular, her serve has not been as consistent as we are used to seeing.  Azarenka has been solid, but most impressively this week has been her desire to step up the court.  My predictions are done for this week as I plumped for Sharapova to win the title.  For that reason, I am going for a gamble and pick Azarenka to defend her title in Doha.

Prediction - Azarenka to beat Serena in 3 sets

Friday, 15 February 2013

WTA Doha: Semi-Final Predictions

The completion of the Doha quarter-finals saw the world's top four progress to the semi-finals and the first real blockbuster clashes for 2013 all set...

1. Victoria Azarenka v Agnieszka Radwanska
Victoria Azarenka
The first semi-final will see the continuation of the Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska rivalry.  It was at this tourmament last year when a friendly relationship turned sour after Radwanska accused Azarenka of bigging up an injury in their semi-final match.  Tensions may also be further stretched because Radwanska was Azarenka's pigeon last year.  The pair played each other six times in the first half of 2012 with Azarenka coming out on top in all six matches and with progressive ease too.  Radwanska avoided Vika from May onwards, but for the first time in 2013, she will have to work out a way past the Belarusian.

Azarenka was too strong for a sprited Sara Errani as she prevailed 6-2 6-2 in their quarter-final.  This was their first encounter in a couple of years following Errani's dramatic rise up the rankings, but the result varied little from their previous Azarenka bashings.  Radwanska had a slightly tougher test as she beat Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2 7-5.  Wozniacki was ahead at every stage of the second set, but was unable to convert her chances, including a set point.  It will be intriguing to see what tactics and frame of mind Radwanska takes into this match because last year she became extremely negative about facing Azarenka...

Prediction - Azarenka to beat Radwanska in 2 sets

2. Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova
Serena Williams
Serena Williams made history today as she was crowned as the oldest world number one of the WTA rankings as she completed a marvellous comeback to defeat Petra Kvitova, 3-6 6-3 7-5 in the match of the tournament so far.  Kvitova showed some encouraging signs in this match, particularly in the first set where she was close to the peak of her game.  However she had some big chances in that final set and a win would have been absolutely huge for her.  Serena showed incredible tenacity and fighting spirit to rally when her game was not firing and she now faces Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.

Sharapova reached the semi-finals with a straight sets win over Sam Stosur, 6-2 6-4.  The key thing to take away from her match was an excellent serving performance including 12 aces.  She has won all her matches in straight sets, but Serena is a whole new platform to leap up to.  Serena has owned Sharapova in their recent head-to-head although the Russian did get marginally closer in their most recent match in the YEC final where Serena won 6-4 6-3.  I originally went for Sharapova at the start of the tournament and I am in a cuandry now to change my mind! In Australia, I kept changing my mind and it went against me so I am foolishly staying with Sharapova to win this one.  Serena has looked slightly under the weather this week and stranger things have happened on the WTA tour...

Prediction - Sharapova to beat Serena in 3 sets

Thursday, 14 February 2013

WTA Doha: Quarter-Final Predictions

Petra Kvitova
1. Serena Williams v Petra Kvitova
One of the match-ups that I want to see more from on the WTA tour is that between Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova, which Doha has delightfully dished up.  Serena cruised past Urszula Radwanska for the loss of just three games, meanwhile Kvitova was forced to grit her teeth in her best win of 2013 so far against Nadia Petrova.  Kvitova recovered from breaks down in the second and third sets to post an encouraging 4-6 6-4 6-3 third round win.  The last two times that Serena and Petra played was on the grass so it will be nice to see a hard court encounter.  A peak-Petra would be absolute dynamite, but I think we all know thats is unlikely to happen tomorrow.  Kvitova is improving, but I think Serena will be a step too far especially with Petra not getting enough out of her serve right now.

Prediction - Serena Williams to beat Petra Kvitova in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

2. Agnieszka Radwanska v Caroline Wozniacki
BFF's, Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki will go head-to-head tomorrow for a place in the Doha semi-finals.  Wozniacki is the only player outside of the top eight to muster her way into the quarter-finals.  Wozniacki followed up her win over Sorana Cirstea with a 7-6(6) 6-3 victory over Mona Barthel.  Wozniacki did very well against Barthel, winning the crucial points and returning particularly well.  Her opponent in the quarter-finals, Radwanska, defeated Ana Ivanovic for the second time this year, 6-1 7-6(6).  Ivanovic did have an opportunity to serve out the second set, but wilted under the pressure.  Wozniacki leads the head-to-head 5-3, but that fails to recognise the changing of the guard in this match-up as Radwanska has won their last two matches.  Wozniacki is playing well, but I still fancy Radwanska to be more solid.

Prediction - Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Caroline Wozniacki in 3 sets

3. Sam Stosur v Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova
Hats off to Sam Stosur this week who has won two tricky matches and made the quarter-finals in Doha.  I wrote her off immediately following her dreadful start to 2013 including her Fed Cup exploits, which saw her blow leads in both of her weekend matches.  She has rallied this week to beat Monica Niculescu and most notably, Svetlana Kuznetsova in a tight two setter today.  Maria Sharapova poses the next challenge, which will bring up unhappy memories from their last match when Sharapova thumped the Aussie, 6-0 6-3 in Istanbul.  Sharapova has had two relatively routine matches in Doha with straight set wins over Caroline Garcia and Klara Zakopalova.  I am very happy to see Stosur's fortunes have an upturn this week, but I do not think she can trouble Sharapova.

Prediction - Maria Sharapova to beat Sam Stosur in 2 sets

4. Victoria Azarenka v Sara Errani
Victoria Azarenka had the most straightforward of Thursday's as she dismissed Christina McHale to the bakery for a double bagel, 6-0 6-0 win.  Sara Errani could not have had a more different match as she fought for over 2 and a half hours in the longest third round match of the day with Daniela Hantuchova and recorded an impressive 7-5 5-7 6-2 win, fighting back from 2-1 down in the final set to win five straight games.  Errani had lost to Hantuchova in Brisbane so this was a good reversal for the Italian.  Azarenka's crushing of McHale rings some ominous bells for Errani, who is likely to have the same problem in having no weapons to hurt Vika.  Their last two matches, both on the clay, resulted in Azarenka losing just three games and Errani will be fortunate to match that tally tomorrow.

Prediction - Victoria Azarenka to beat Sara Errani in 2 sets

I would love to post predictions for the ATP matches but I have caught the lurgy so back to bed for me ;-)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

WTA Doha: 3rd Round Predictions

Caroline Wozniacki
1. Caroline Wozniacki v Mona Barthel
Caroline Wozniacki will face her biggest challenge in Doha yet as she takes on the in-form, Mona Barthel.  Wozniacki saved four set points in the first set of her second round match with Sorana Cirstea before strolling through the second to win, 7-6(7) 6-0.  It was a solid effort from Wozniacki, who produced some neat passes against her Romanian opponent.  Barthel knocked out Angelique Kerber, 6-1 6-2, the highest seed to fall so far in Doha.  Barthel has managed to attain three top 10 wins this year and she will have her sights on number four in 2013.  Wozniacki is likely to pose much more of a test than Kerber and she has also beaten Barthel on two previous occasions.  This match will come down solely to Barthel and she will have to serve well, be patient in the rallies and execute the right shot at the right time.  Barthel's on a great run at the moment so its hard to look against her continuing the winning streak...

Prediction - Barthel to beat Wozniacki in 3 sets

Nadia Petrova
2. Petra Kvitova v Nadia Petrova
Two of 2013's out-of-form players will go head-to-head for a lucrative spot in the final eight of Doha.  Petra Kvitova progressed past Ekaterina Makarova, who retired due to illness after losing the first set, 6-4.  She now plays Nadia Petrova who doubled her win tally for this year as she showed some rare battling qualities to come from a set down to beat Hsieh Su-Wei, 3-6 6-2 6-4.  The winner of this match is likely to come up against Serena Williams in the quarter-finals and both of these players have big enough games to actually trouble Serena on a good day.  Kvitova has won her only previous encounter with Petrova, which came on the fast courts of Brisbane in a tight two setter.  I think this could be a pretty ugly match, but I will stick by my original prediction of Kvitova making the quarters.

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Petrova in 3 sets

3. Victoria Azarenka v Christina McHale
Victoria Azarenka
Christina McHale enjoyed her best win of 2013 so far against Lucie Safarova, 6-4 6-2.  Safarova is very irratic these days and it is likely she was affected by the blustery condtions, but it was still a very promising result for the young American.  McHale now takes on the world number one, Victoria Azarenka in the round of 16.  Azarenka looked in a spot of bother as she trailed Romina Oprandi, 0-2 30-40 in the first set, but she quickly turned her game on and was not troubled again in a 6-2 6-3 win.  Azarenka's only previous match with McHale resulted in a win for the American back in 2010 as Azarenka was forced to retire when leading 6-2 2-2.  This will be a good test for McHale, someone capable of a big upset, but on this occasion I think Azarenka will prevail in comfortable fashion.

Prediction - Azarenka to beat McHale in 2 sets

Best of the rest: 3rd round predictions
Sara Errani to beat Daniela Hantuchova in 3 sets
Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Ana Ivanovic in 2 sets
Svetlana Kuznetsova to beat Sam Stosur in 2 tight sets
Maria Sharapova to beat Klara Zakopalova in 2 sets
Serena Williams to beat Urszula Radwanska in 2 sets

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

WTA Doha: 2nd Round Predictions

Tuesday saw second round wins for Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Mona Barthel.  Thr brimming-with-confidence, Barthel knocked out the number 6 seed Angelique Kerber, 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour.  Barthel was very solid with 30 winners to 12 unforced errors, but Kerber was well below her best.  Her game has become far too defensive and she is a shadow of the player who I still remember knocking winners from all over the court in Stuttgart last year Her serve also looked lacklustre, which may be down to the back injury that sidelined her from Fed Cup action.

Serena and Sharapova both won in straight sets with wins over Daria Gavrilova and Caroline Garcia respectively.  In other matches, Nadia Petrova won her first match of the year against Andrea Hlavackova, Daniela Hantuchova played a good match to beat an error-strewn Laura Robson and Jelena Jankovic went backwards with a straight sets loss to Monica Niculescu.

Highlights from the end of Serena's match with Gavrilova

Let's take a look at the pick of the matches for Wednesday's order of play in Doha...
1. Svetlana Kuznetsova v Marin Bartoli
Caroline Wozniacki
Marion Bartoli won her first match without her father as a coach with a hard fought 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Francesca Schiavone.  Although Schiavone has yet to win a match in 2013, I thought it was one of her better performances.  She really should have won the first set from 5-2 up, but Bartoli tightened up her game and became more aggressive and consistent.  Bartoli takes on another Roland Garros champion in round two, Svetlana Kuznetsova.  Bartoli and Kuznetsova are 2-2 in their head-to-head with Bartoli winning their most recent encounter in a tension-fuelled quarter-final at Roland Garros in 2011.  Kuznetsova has played the better tennis this year, but Bartoli is never one to be written off.  I think it will be a very close match and I give the edge to Kuznetsova.

Prediction - Kuznetsova to beat Bartoli in 3 sets

2. Caroline Wozniacki v Sorana Cirstea
Caroline Wozniacki had a stroll in the park in round one as she defeated the world number 204, Mervana Jugic-Salkic, 6-1 6-2.  For a time it looked like her opponent in round two would be the Tunisian, Ons Jabeur; however after recovering from a slow start, it was Sorana Cirstea who progressed past Jabeur, 2-6 6-3 6-0.  Cirstea's form throughout 2013 has followed on from 2012 with a menu of complete inconsistency, but still the ability to produce a gem of a performance tucked away in her locker.  Cirstea has beaten Wozniacki twice before and has the kind of game that can trouble a passive Wozniacki.  We still do not know enough about Wozniacki's form in 2013 and I toyed with the idea of a Cirstea win.  In the end, its hard to have faith in Cirstea's game to be solid enough against the still-brick-wall-like Wozniacki.

Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Cirstea in 3 sets

Christina McHale
3. Christina McHale v Lucie Safarova
Christina McHale and Lucie Safarova have not started 2013 in particularly good form, but both enjoyed comprehensive wins today.  McHale eased past Vera Dushevina, 6-1 6-2 for her second win of 2013, meanwhile Safarova beat Eleni Daniilidou with a straightforward 6-2 6-3 win.  McHale's lack of form has been understandable because she was suffering from Mononucleosis at the back end of 2012 so it has taken her some time to find her feet again on the court.  Safarova has certainly improved following her exploits down under, but still remains a mystery in what kind of tennis she is going to deliver on a day-to-day basis.  Safarova has by far the more powerful game, but there is less to go wrong for McHale.  I think the American is improving and will notch up her best win of 2013 so far...
Prediction - McHale to beat Safarova in 3 sets

4. Petra Kvitova v Ekaterina Makarova
Petra Kvitova plays her first match of the week and it will be a tough start against fellow leftie, Ekaterina Makarova.  The Russian player had a very straightforward win over Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round, 6-1 6-2.  Kvitova enjoyed two wins in Fed Cup action at the weekend against Jarmila Gajdosova and Sam Stosur, but still struggled at times in both encounters.  Makarova is a dangerous player and proved that at Eastbourne last year when she beat Kvitova in two tight sets.  Makarova did pull out of her doubles match with a heel injury today so it sounds like she may not be 100%.  This will be a big match for Kvitova and I think she will dig herself out of trouble, taking advantage of Makarova's mental weaknesses...

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Makarova in 3 tough sets

Best of the rest: Doha 2nd round predictions
Victoria Azarenka to beat Romina Oprandi in 2 sets
Daniela Hantuchova to beat Ekaterina Bychkova in 3 sets
Sara Errani to beat Timea Babos in 3 sets
Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Anastasia Rodionova in 2 easy sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Simona Halep in 2 tight sets
Monica Niculescu to beat Sam Stosur in 2 sets
Sloane Stephens to beat Klara Zakopalova in 2 tight sets
Nadia Petrova to beat Hsieh Su-Wei in 2 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Urszula Radwanska in 2 sets

Monday, 11 February 2013

Horacio Zeballos stuns Rafael Nadal, 6-7(2) 7-6(6) 6-4 in Vina del Mar Final

Just a quick note to acknowledge a stunning win for Horacio Zeballos and his first ever ATP title after a 6-7(2) 7-6(6) 6-4 victory over Rafael Nadal in the Vina del Mar final.  I remember Zeballos having some good results a few years ago, but he has been very quiet since then so this was a surprise to just see him make the final, let alone win the title.  It was a solid opener from Nadal, but to hear that he is still playing with some pain is disappointing news.  I find it hard to believe that he is not worsening the situation with the knees, but I really do hope he can stay relatively pain free and injury free because an ATP tour without Rafa is a far less interesting one...

Highlights from Nadal/Zeballos in Chile

WTA Doha, ATP Rotterdam: Ivanovic and Barthel cruise, Dimitrov beats Tomic

Ana Ivanovic
1st round action kicked off in Doha today where Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Mona Barthel all won in straight sets. Ivanovic dispelled any injury worries with a 6-1 6-2 rout of a woeful Tamira Paszek, who has won just one of her six matches in 2013. I bet she is longing for the grass court season although even then, I question whether she will be a threat based on her current formWozniacki eased past the very lucky loser, Mervana Jugic-Salkic, meanwhile Barthel beat the wild child Yulia Putintseva, 6-4 6-2.  

In other Doha matches, Anastasia Rodionova strolled past Zheng Jie in straight sets and Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame Bethanie Mattek-Sands in a topsy-turvy and tight two setter, 7-6(1) 6-4.  Doha was a generally solid day of predictions, but Rotterdam was a total disaster.  I think it is a rather impressive feat to have gotten every prediction wrong... Grigor Dimitrov edged Bernard Tomic, 6-3 3-6 6-3, Jerzy Janowicz fell to Victor Hanescu and Marcel Granollers lost to the qualifier Matteo Viola, 5-7 6-3 6-1.

Doha has an excellent schedule for tomorrow with the 1st round match between Marion Bartoli and Francesca Schiavone and the 2nd round match between Mona Barthel and Angelique Kerber the highlights of the day.  In Rotterdam, Juan Martin Del Potro will take on Gael Monfils in the late night match.

Doha 2nd Round Predictions:
Maria Sharapova to beat Caroline Garcia in 2 sets
Serena Williams to beat Dina Gavrilova in 2 sets
Mona Barthel to beat Angelique Kerber in 3 sets *upset alert*

You can keep up to date with how well my original predictions are doing in Doha and Rotterdam.