Sunday, 30 June 2013

Wimbledon 4th Round Womens Predictions, Day 7: Serena-Lisicki, Robson-Kanepi and more...

1. Serena Williams v Sabine Lisicki
Serena Williams
Serena Williams will face her biggest test of the Championships so far against Sabine Lisicki.  The former Wimbledon semi-finalist made a slow start to her third round match with Sam Stosur, but improved with each set to post a 4-6 6-2 6-1 win.  Lisicki really struggled on return and could not deal with Stosur's slice in the first set; however she seemed to almost flick a switch in the second set and the rest was history.  Serena thrashed Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-2 6-0, but it was still a fantastic effort from the 42-year-old, who got her wish to play under the roof again and played some stunning points in the first set.

Serena has won her two previous matches with Lisicki; one was a complete domination in Stanford and the other was via a retirement.  Lisicki will go into this match with absolutely nothing to lose and she is one of the few players who I think has belief she can do this.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and that will get the crowd involved and fully behind her.  I genuinely believe this will be Serena's toughest match of the week and that Sabine will get the world number one on the ropes, long enough at least to grab a set.

Prediction - Serena to beat Lisicki in 3 sets

2. Laura Robson v Kaia Kanepi
When the draw came out, my heart sunk at the prospect of Laura Robson having to face Maria Kirilenko in the first round.  However a sensational performance against an albeit crocked opponent in round one created a cavernous opening in her section of the draw.  Robson had a smash-and-grab win over Marina Erakovic in round three, who served for the match at 6-1 5-4, but was unable to hold her nerve.  Laura, cheered on empatically by the No.2 Court crowd, came roaring back to book her place in the last 16.  Robson now takes on Kaia Kanepi, who has looked in sensational form this week, taking out Angelique Kerber in round two and the in-form American, Alison Riske in round three.  On most occasions, Kanepi would be my favourite for this match.  However the Estonian is known for her struggles at closing out matches and there is no doubt that this the crowd will have a big factor in this match.  I really question how Kanepi will cope with the situation and this is Wimbledon, and Laura's on a roll... come on Laura!

Prediction - Robson to beat Kanepi in 3 sets

3. Agnieszka Radwanska v Tsvetana Pironkova
Tsvetana Pironkova
Last year's Wimbledon finalist, Agnieszka Radwanska had her hands full with Madison Keys on Saturday, dropping the middle set, but coming through in a fantastic third round match, 7-5 4-6 6-3.  Keys showed that she has the talent and mentality to succeed on the tour and particularly on this surface too as she hit a whopping 67 winners.  Radwanska now takes on the grass-court GOAT, Tsvetana Pironkova.  The former Wimbledon semi-finalist has taken full advantage of a slack draw and she booked her place in the last 16 with an at-times shaky win over Petra Martic, 6-1 4-6 6-2.  Pironkova loves the grass and always saves her best tennis at Wimbledon.  Her game just fits on this surface and for that reason, she is a threat to anyone.  Radwanska and Pironkova have similar games, which do not solely rely on baseline power, which will make this an intriguing affair.  Pironkova won their most recent match-up on grass at Eastbourne last year, but this is a Grand Slam and I'm going Aga...

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Pironkova in 2 tight sets

4. Carla Suarez Navarro v Petra Kvitova
The bottom half looked in big danger of losing its highest seed on Saturday, but Petra Kvitova brought her best tennis to the show as she recovered from a 1-2 third set deficit to beat Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3 2-6 6-3.  Kvitova now takes on Carla Suarez Navarro in the 4th round, which should be a fascinating match-up of two completely different styles of tennis.  Suarez has made the last 16 at Wimbledon and has become one of the most reliable and consistent players on the tour this year.  Kvitova leads the head-to-head by 4 wins to 1 including a 6-3 6-2 win on the lightning fast courts of Brisbane.  Suarez Navarro has a beautiful game, but it appears, and I still say this with an urge of caution, that things could be clicking in place for Petra, who remains the only player in the draw who could legitimately give Serena a competitive match for the title.
Prediction - Kvitova to beat Suarez Navarro in 2 tight sets

5. Sloane Stephens v Monica Puig

Monica Puig
One of the reasons that the womens draw is much more promising than the mens draw is that there are some really talented up-and-comers still left in the draw and this match-up between Sloane Stephens and Monica Puig fits that bill.  Sloane looked to be heading out of the tournament, but she took advantage of a minor meltdown from Petra Cetkovska to progress through a crazy encounter (and that's not good crazy), 7-6(3) 0-6 6-4.  Puig doesn't seem to have the perfect game for grass, but she has bundles of fight and tenacity and she used that to her advantage to recover from a set and a break deficit to beat Eva Birnerova.  This will be a first career match-up and I think all the different variables within this match favour Sloane...

Prediction - Stephens to beat Puig in 3 sets

6. Li Na v Roberta Vinci
The only womens match that has held form with the seeding is the one out on court 3 between Li Na and Roberta Vinci.  Both have had their struggles as Vinci was taken into extra time by Jana Cepelova in the second round (9-7 in the third set), meanwhile Li has had two consecutive three setters including an epic with Klara Zakopalova in the third round, which she won 4-6 0-6 8-6.  Contrary to popular belief that Vinci loves the clay, it's the grass that suits her game the best.  She has a great chance of making quarters here, but will have to overcome a 0-3 deficit in the head-to-head.  I am still not convinced by Li this week, but she seems to be getting the job done.  A tough one to call, but I am taking a risk...

Prediction - Vinci to beat Li in 3 sets

7. Kirsten Flipkens v Flavia Pennetta
Flavia Pennetta
A rematch of a first round match at this year's Roland Garros will grace the last 16 of Wimbledon.  Kirsten Flipkens has had three straight sets wins, meanwhile her 4th round opponent, Flavia Pennetta had a very dramatic third round match against Alize Cornet, recovering from a first set bagel and losing a huge second set lead to eventually win, 0-6 7-6 6-2.  Flipkens beat Pennetta on her best surface of clay in Paris and I am confident that Flipkens will win this comfortably.

Prediction - Flipkens to beat Pennetta in 2 sets

8. Marion Bartoli v Karin Knapp
As all the seeds evacuate the bottom half of the draw, Marion Bartoli is seizing the day and is arguably playing her best tennis of 2013 so far.  She toughed out another tight two setter yesterday in her third round match against Camila Giorgi.  Her opponent in the 4th round is Karin Knapp, who defeated Lucie Safarova in round two and Michelle Larcher de Brito, Sharapova's screaming conqueror, in round three.  I think this will be a relatively straightforward win for Bartoli...

Prediction - Bartoli to beat Knapp in 2 sets

You can view my original predictions for the womens draw here.  I have actually done not bad as I correctly predicted Riske, Erakovic, Pironkova and Keys all to R3 and then Pironkova and Flipkens to R4.

Wimbledon 4th Round Mens Predictions, Day 7: Djokovic-Haas, Berdych-Tomic & Murray-Youzhny

1. Novak Djokovic v Tommy Haas
Novak Djokovic
The star of the mens 4th round line-up will see a repeat of a Roland Garros quarter-final between Novak Djokovic and Tommy Haas.  On that occasion, Haas had exerted a lot of energy, most of it in a third round epic against John Isner, but this time round, and on the grass, I think this will be a much closer affair.  Djokovic has sailed through his first three matches and on Saturday, he barely made an unforced error in a 6-3 6-2 6-2 rout of Jeremy Chardy.  Haas lost the opening set of his third round match to Feliciano Lopez, but rebounded extremely well to post a promising four set win against the Eastbourne champion.  Haas has beaten Djokovic this year in Miami and at Wimbledon too in 2009.  The German player has weapons to threaten Djokovic, but I have to sit up and take note of the Serb's progress through the draw and I think the quarter-finals beckon for sure...

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Haas in 4 sets

2. Tomas Berdych v Bernard Tomic
The last couple of months have been tough on Bernard Tomic and most, including me, will be tipping their cap at the young Aussie for his impressive performances at Wimbledon this year, which have seen him take out Sam Querrey and yesterday, Richard Gasquet.  I thought Tomic played a strong match, serving very well and finding the right balance between defence and attack; up next is Tomas Berdych, who was apparently struggling with a shoulder injury, but managed to knock off his pigeon, Kevin Anderson, having lost the opening set, 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-5.  This will be a first career meeting and should be a real treat for number one court.  I get the feeling that this could be the big upset on Magic Monday, particularly with Tomic's credentials on the grass.

Prediction - Tomic to beat Berdych in 5 sets

3. Andy Murray v Mikhail Youzhny
The first week was a big success for Andy Murray as booked his place in the 4th round with a comprehensive victory over Tommy Robredo, who gave it his all in a 6-2 6-3 7-5 defeat.  Murray now faces his toughest test of the tournament so far against Mikhail Youzhny.  At the beginning of the tournament, Youzhny  looked like one of the safest bets to make the 4th round and that has been proven as he has avoided the string of upsets that has ravaged the mens draw.  Youzhny was taken to five sets by Vasek Pospisil in round two, but was swift in disposing of Victor Troicki in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 7-5.  Murray and Youzhny have only played each other twice with Murray winning both encounters.  Youzhny made the final in Halle and is playing the best tennis of his year so far.  I think Murray will drop his first set, but eventually progress past a game effort from the Russian.

Prediction - Murray to beat Youzhny in 4 sets 
4. Juan Martin del Potro v Andreas Seppi
Del Potro
A repeat of a second round match at last year's Olympics will see Juan Martin del Potro take on Andreas Seppi.  Del Potro had a good win over Grega Zemlja in straight sets and even dished out a bagel in the third set.  It has been a poor year for Seppi so far, but he has managed to enjoy a solid grass court season, making the semi-finals in Eastbourne and now the last 16 at Wimbledon.  He rather surprisingly took out Kei Nishikori in five sets.  Seppi is solid, but Del Potro should have enough in his locker to win this one...

Prediction - Del Potro to beat Seppi in 3 sets

5. David Ferrer v Ivan Dodig
The dogged Spaniard, David Ferrer had the epic match on Super Saturday as he battled past Alexandr Dolgopolov in five sets, 6-7(8) 7-6(2) 2-6 6-1 6-2 in 3 hours and 12 minutes.  His 4th round opponent, Ivan Dodig has had two opponents retire on him in the first three rounds, but will not get that luxury on Monday.  Dodig has an attacking game and a good game for grass having made the semi-finals of Eastbourne.  Ferrer has lost sets in all three of his matches at Wimbledon this year, but I have a feeling that this will be his most comfortable win of the lot...

Prediction - Ferrer to beat Dodig in 3 tight sets

6. Jerzy Janowicz v Jurgen Melzer
In the section now devoid of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Jerzy Janowicz is now the highest seed remaining in the third quarter.  He reached his first ever 4th rounder at Wimbledon with a mightily impressive straight sets win over the number 15 seed, Nicolas Almagro.  His next opponent will be Jurgen Melzer, who defeated Federer slayer, Sergey Stakhovsky.  In this section, Janowicz looks a legitimate threat to Murray and I think his first Wimbledon quarter-final, and potentially semi-final could be on the cards...

Prediction - Janowicz to beat Melzer in 3 tight sets

7. Fernando Verdasco v Kenny De Schepper
Fernando Verdasco
Out of nowhere, Fernando Verdasco appears to have summoned his very best form as he took out Ernests Gulbis in straight sets, and from articles I read about it, in quite some style.  Just one week ago, Kenny De Schepper was losing to the young Brit, Kyle Edmund in the first round of Eastbourne, but now he finds himself in the 4th round of a Grand Slam for the first time.  Verdasco surely will win this...

Prediction - Verdasco to beat De Schepper in 3 sets

8. Lukas Kubot v Adrian Mannarino
The fact that Lukas Kubot and Adrian Mannarino will be contesting a 4th round match at Wimbledon tells you how badly depleted the mens draw is this year.  Kubot defeated Benoit Paire in straight sets, which came as a huge surprise, particularly how comfortable it was, meanwhile Mannarino took out the crowd favourite, Dustin Brown.  I would give the edge to Kubot...

Prediction - Kubot to beat Mannarino in 4 sets

You can view my original mens predictions HERE.  My final is still alive, but the rest of the draw is a mess, as most people's will be!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Wimbledon 3rd Round Predictions, Day 6: Lisicki-Stosur, Gasquet-Tomic and Lopez-Haas

1. Sabine Lisicki v Sam Stosur
Sabine Lisicki
During the first two rounds, you would be hard pushed to find anyone who played better than Sabine Lisicki.  The 2011 Wimbledon semi-finalist blitzed past Francesca Schiavone, 6-1 6-2 in the first round and then lost just one more game to the Eastbourne champion, Elena Vesnina in the second round.  Lisicki now takes on Sam Stosur in what promises to be a compelling affair.  Stosur has made the 3rd round of Wimbledon on only one previous occasion in 2009 and although she has been handed a straightforward draw this year, she has recorded two comfortable wins over Anna Schmiedlova and Olga Puchkova.  Lisicki will go into this match as the heavy favourite despite being the lower ranked player.  Stosur is a clear leader in the head-to-head, but Lisicki won their most recent match-up in 2011.  I would definitely go for Lisicki to win this one and set up a mouthwatering 4th round clash with Serena...

Prediction - Lisicki to beat Stosur in 2 sets

2. Richard Gasquet v Bernard Tomic
The first two rounds have both been trials for Richard Gasquet, but he eventually overcame Marcel Granollers and Go Soeda in 4 sets.  His third round match will be against the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Bernard Tomic.  The Aussie has hit the headlines this week for all the right reasons as he edged past Sam Querrey in the first round in a tough five setter before taking out James Blake yesterday in straight sets.  Gasquet and Tomic last met in Indian Wells when Gasquet ran out a comfortable winner.  On grass, you have to feel that their games will be much more closely matched.  Gasquet has been far from convincing this week, but I am still backing him to have a good tournament and beat Tomic...

Prediction - Gasquet to beat Tomic in 4 sets

3. Tommy Haas v Feliciano Lopez
The top half of the mens draw has held up well and one to watch on Super Saturday, as I am calling it, will be Tommy Haas up against the Eastbourne champion, Feliciano Lopez.  Haas beat the showers to post a commanding 6-3 6-2 7-5 victory over Jimmy Wang.  Lopez progressed into the third round by virtue of a retirement from Paul-Henri Mathieu and his second win over Gilles Simon in a week having played the Frenchman in the final of Eastbourne.  Haas has been playing incredibly consistent tennis this year, but Lopez has peaked during the grass court season and his serve and volley game works wonders on this surface.  Haas leads the head-to-head 2-0, but the last of those matches was nearly ten years ago.  This should be a good match, but I think Lopez has played a lot of tennis over the last couple of weeks and Haas will be too solid...

Prediction - Haas to beat Lopez in 4 sets

4. Agnieszka Radwanska v Madison Keys
Aga Radwanska
There has not been much said about last year's Wimbledon finalist, Agnieszka Radwanska so far this tournament.  She has cruised through her first two rounds losing no more than three games in a set, but neither of her opponents offered up much of a threat.  Aga will have to step up her game in round three as she takes on the very promising American, Madison Keys.  Keys has taken out both Heather Watson and Mona Barthel in straight sets.  She looked incredibly ropey on the grass in Birmingham, but with every match, she looks more and more comfortable on this surface.  Radwanska strolled past Keys in Miami last year, but there is no doubt that Madison is an improving player who will overpower Aga.  The question is whether she can sustain the big hitting for the whole length of the match and whether she has the nerve to pull off the big upset.

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Keys in 3 sets

Best of the rest: 3rd Round Womens Predictions
Serena Williams to beat Kimiko Date-Krumm in 2 sets 
Laura Robson to beat Marina Erakovic in 3 sets
Alison Riske to beat Kaia Kanepi in 3 sets

Tsvetana Pironkova to beat Petra Martic in 3 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Dominika Cibulkova in 2 sets
Klara Zakopalova to beat Li Na in 3 sets

Best of the rest: 3rd Round Mens Prediction
Novak Djokovic to beat Jeremy Chardy in 3 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat Kevin Anderson in 3 tight sets

David Ferrer to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov in 4 sets
Ivan Dodig to beat Igor Sijsling in 5 sets
Kei Nishikori to beat Andreas Seppi in 3 sets
Juan Martin del Potro to beat Grega Zemlja in 4 sets

I will be at Wimbledon tomorrow as my Brother has Centre Court tickets so I will be doing my final live tweeting from the 2013 grass court season so please do give me a follow @MooTennisBlog.  I am now on holiday for the next week so I hope to be able to devote a little bit more time to my blog including my showcase Magic Monday previews, which will be posted Sunday evening :-)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Wimbledon 3rd Round Predictions, Day 5: Kvitova-Makarova, Almagro-Janowicz, Verdasco-Gulbis

1. Petra Kvitova v Ekaterina Makarova
Petra Kvitova
Black Wednesday, as it was so aptly coined, saw a wave of shocks and withdrawals, which has certainly weakened Friday's schedule.  The highlight in the womens draw features Petra Kvitova, who remains the one player who can save the integrity of the bottom half.  She played flawless tennis to win the Wimbledon title in 2011 and is the  biggest threat to Serena on her day, but we cannot overlook her shaky recent form as she wobbled past Coco Vandeweghe in three sets on Monday.  She had a lucky break on Wednesday as Yaroslava Shvedova was one of seven players to withdraw.

Kvitova's opponent in round three, Ekaterina Makarova had a dramatic second rounder as she failed twice in serving out her match to Garbine Muguruza before eventually progressing, 6-2 6-7 6-4.  Kvitova and Makarova last met at Eastbourne in 2012 when Makarova prevailed in a tight two setter.  Both love the grass, but both also know how to lose their concentration.  The interest has certainly raised in Kvitova as she is now the highest seed left in the bottom half.  Can she come through a depleted bottom half? I am not yet 100% convinced, but I think she has the beating of Makarova.

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Makarova in 3 sets

2. Nicolas Almagro v Jerzy Janowicz
One of just two mens matches from the bottom half that has stuck with the seedings will see Nicolas Almagro take on Jerzy Janowicz.  Almagro had a four set win over Guillaume Rufin on court 3, meanwhile Janowicz benefitted from a withdrawal as most did on Wednesday, progressing past an injured Radek Stepanek, who retired at 3-6 2-5 down.  Janowicz though looked to be playing well and a surprising loss to the world number 240 in the first round of Halle looks to have been a one-off.  As my 4th round tip of Stepanek is on his way home and this section of the draw is WIDE open, I will likely be jumping on the Janowicz bandwagon for the rest of this tournament.

Prediction - Janowicz to beat Almagro in 4 sets

3. Fernando Verdasco v Ernests Gulbis
Fernando Verdasco
On paper it looked like we would get a third rounder between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Julien Benneteau, but both seeds fell on day 3 and we are left with an equally intriguing match featuring Ernests Gulbis and Fernando Verdasco.  I have always liked Gulbis and he did get lucky yesterday when Tsonga retired with a knee injury having lost the third set.  Verdasco meanwhile produced one of his best performances in quite sometime to defeat a very handy grass courter, Benneteau, in straight sets, 7-6(1) 7-6(4) 6-4.  Verdasco leads the head-to-head by two wins to one, but Gulbis won their last match in Barcelona on the clay.  Verdasco though has turned his season around of late and with a new racquet and a new coach, he does look dangerous  However I am a fan of Gulbis's game and I think he will snap up his chance in this section.

Prediction - Gulbis to beat Verdasco in 5 sets

4. Sloane Stephens v Petra Cetkovska
In one of the best matches of the Wednesday that rather unfortunately got sweeped under the carpet with all the drama, Sloane Stephens edged past Andrea Petkovic, 7-6(6) 6-2 8-6 in a brilliant second round match.  Sloane has performed really well at the Grand Slams this year, but gets a toughie in the next round against Petra Cetkovska, who took out a struggling Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2 6-2.  The Dane was obviously not 100% having slipped early in the first set, but it still took a solid performance from Cetkovska to get the job done.  This will be a closely contested match and I am very impressed to see Cetkovska making inroads on the tour so soon after her comeback from injury.  I would say this one is 50/50; however I did like the way Sloane edged past Petko so I am backing the American to make her 3rd consecutive 4th round showing at a Grand Slam.

Prediction - Stephens to beat Cetkovska in 3 sets

There are a number of 2nd round matches still to be completed because of the rain so please check yesterday's post for those predictions.

Best of the rest: 3rd round womens predictions
Monica Puig to beat Eva Birnerova in 2 tight sets
Marion Bartoli to beat Camila Giorgi in 3 sets
Michelle Larcher de Brito to beat Karin Knapp in 3 sets

Eugenie Bouchard to beat Carla Suarez Navarro in 3 sets
Kirsten Flipkens to beat Vesna Dolonc in 2 sets
Flavia Pennetta to beat Alize Cornet in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: 3rd round mens predictions
Benoit Paire to beat Lukas Kubot in 4 sets
Dustin Brown to beat Adrian Mannarino in 4 sets
Jurgen Melzer to beat Sergey Stakhovsky in 5 sets

Juan Monaco to beat Kenny De Schepper in 4 sets
Mikhail Youzhny to beat Viktor Troicki in 3 sets
Andy Murray to beat Tommy Robredo in 3 sets

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wimbledon 2nd Round Predictions, Day 4: Li-Halep, Lisicki-Vesnina and Berdych-Brands

I'm still shocked at Day 3, but here are my picks for Day 4...

1. Li Na v Simona Halep
Li Na
Li Na takes on the in-form Simona Halep in an enticing second round Wimbledon clash that has been shockingly carted out to court 3.  Halep was having a pretty abysmal year up until Rome where she stormed through qualifying to make the semi-finals.  She had a tough draw at RG losing in round one to Carla Suarez Navarro; however two weeks later, she stormed to her first title in Nurnberg and then made a perfect transition to the grass as she dominated the field to win s'Hertogenbosch.  Halep came through her opening match at Wimbledon against Olga Govortsova in 3 sets, meanwhile Li had a convincing win over Michaella Krajicek, 6-1 6-1.  

Halep will be brimming with confidence and has a win over Li having knocked her out of the 2011 US Open.  Li looked very solid in the first round, but this is a very dangerous second rounder and it rings alarm bells back to Roland Garros where she was undone by a mammoth effort from Bethanie Mattek-Sands in round two.  This one definitely smells of an upset and after yesterday, why not...

Prediction - Halep to beat Li in 3 sets

2. Sabine Lisicki v Elena Vesnina
Many people have set their hearts on a Serena-Sabine 4th round showdown, but Sabine Lisicki will first have to get past the Eastbourne champion, Elena Vesnina.  Lisicki started like she meant business as she tore past Francesca Schiavone, 6-1 6-2 in her first round match.  Vesnina also came through in straight sets, but had to recover from a 4-0 second set deficit to advance past Andrea Hlavackova, 6-2 7-5.  Lisicki has always saved her best tennis for Wimbledon and her first round match indicated that 2013 would be no different.  Vesnina though, should offer up a very difficult match because not only did she win Eastbourne, but she also claimed a maiden Grand Slam title in doubles at Roland Garros.  Lisicki leads the head-to-head by 2 wins to 1 and I think at Wimbledon, it will take a special performance from Vesnina to halt the German's path.

Prediction - Lisicki to beat Vesnina in 2 tight sets

3. Tomas Berdych v Daniel Brands
Tomas Berdych
The best match that I could pick out from a rather drab top half of 2nd round matches was the one between Tomas Berdych and Daniel Brands.  Berdych was knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon last year by Ernests Gulbis, but he put those memories well and truly behind him with a straight sets win over Martin Klizan.  His next opponent is the huge German, Daniel Brands, who took a set off Nadal in the first round at Roland Garros.  Brands though has had a very consistent season and has come through qualifying to make the main draw at seven different events this year.  Berdych has notched up one win over Brands, which ironically was also at Wimbledon in 2010 in 4 sets.  I think this will be a interesting one, but Berdych would be my pick...

Prediction - Berdych to beat Brands in 4 sets

4. Angelique Kerber v Kaia Kanepi
Angelique Kerber's tough draw continues at Wimbledon as she takes on the big serving Estonian, Kaia Kanepi in the second round.  Kerber came past a potentially tricky opener with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, displaying greater consistency and some stellar defending.  Kanepi had a real fight on her hands against a terrific effort from the Brit, Tara Moore and needed three long sets to make it into the second round, 7-5 5-7 7-5.  Kanepi looks in great shape right now and has slowly been making her way back from injury with a title in Brussels her best performance of 2013.  Kerber has become a bit too defensive for me this year, but she is still a very difficult player to beat.  Kanepi still has some almighty wobbles so I am definitely backing Kerber in this one.

Prediction - Kerber to beat Kanepi in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: 2nd Round Womens Predictions
Serena Williams to beat Caroline Garcia in 2 sets
Kimiko Date-Krumm to beat Alexandra Cadantu in 2 sets
Sam Stosur to beat Olga Puchkova in 2 tight sets
Laura Robson to beat Mariana Duque Marino in 2 tight sets
Marina Erakovic to beat Peng Shuai in 3 sets
Alison Riske to beat Urszula Radwanska in 2 tight sets

Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Mathilde Johansson in 2 sets
Madison Keys to beat Mona Barthel in 2 tight sets
Tsvetana Pironkova to beat Barbara Zahlavova Strycova in 2 sets
Karolina Pliskova to beat Petra Martic in 3 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Jana Cepelova in 2 sets
Dominika Cibulkova to beat Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor in 2 sets
Annika Beck to beat Klara Zakopalova in 3 sets

Best of the rest: 2nd Round Mens Predictions
Novak Djokovic to beat Bobby Reynolds in 3 sets
Jeremy Chardy to beat Jan-Lennard Struff in 4 sets
Feliciano Lopez to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu in 3 sets
Tommy Haas to beat Jimmy Wang in 3 sets
Richard Gasquet to beat Go Soeda in 3 sets
Bernard Tomic to beat James Blake in 4 sets
Kevin Anderson to beat Michal Prysiezny in 3 tight sets

David Ferrer to beat Roberto Bautista-Agut in 3 sets
Alexandr Dolgopolov to beat Santiago Giraldo in 5 sets
Milos Raonic to beat Igor Sijsling in 4 sets
Ivan Dodig to beat Denis Kudla in 4 sets
Kei Nishikori to beat Leonardo Mayer in 3 sets
Michael Llodra to beat Andreas Seppi in 3 sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Grega Zemlja in 4 sets
Juan Martin del Potro to beat Jesse Levine in 3 sets

My original predictions are pretty much out of the window.  I still have my champions intact, but the rest of the draws have been decimated and I could not picture the shocks that we have had.  I also felt I was particularly unlucky as most of the players who withdrew today were players I had tipped to do well!

The carnage that was Day 3 of Wimbledon: Federer, Sharapova, Azarenka and Tsonga out

Wow Wow Wow...

Roger Federer
Since I have started following tennis, I have never witnessed a day like today at Wimbledon.  I thought that Maria Sharapova's exit to Michelle Larcher de Brito in straight sets over on court 2 was the biggest shock of the year, but that was totally trumped as Roger Federer suffered his earliest exit at a Grand Slam since 2004 as he was beaten in 4 sets by a majestic performance from Sergey Stakhovsky.

Along with the two huge upsets, we had seven withdrawals from the Championships, which included the number two seed, Victoria Azarenka and the number six seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  They were joined on the injury bus out of SW19 by John Isner, Radek Stepanek, Marin Cilic, Steve Darcis and Yaroslava Shvedova.  There have been a few players questioning the court, most notably Azarenka.  Sharapova was also seen saying "this court is dangerous" as she had a number of slips out on court 2.  Just one hour before Maria, Caroline Wozniacki also had a fall on the same court and was bundled out by Petra Cetkovska in 2 sets.

There were so many other storylines, but I am really in a state of shock right now!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Wimbledon 2nd Round Predictions, Day 3: Tsonga-Gulbis, Kvitova-Shvedova and Petkovic-Stephens

Firstly a big thumbs up to Laura Robson today who produced a fantastic performance to stun Maria Kirilenko, 6-3 6-4.  I did not see that one coming particularly as Robson's form of late has not been great, but she played a stunning match and has an opening in her section of the draw.  Let's now take a look at Wednesday's top matches...

1. Ernests Gulbis v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The men will play second fiddle to the ladies on day 3 because of the vast array of excellent ladies matches; however the top match of the day does come from the mens draw.  The most dangerous floater in the draw, Ernests Gulbis, came through his first round match against Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straight sets to set up a second round blockbuster clash with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  The Frenchman has a tough draw at SW19 this year, but came through his first obstacle, David Goffin in solid fashion, 7-6(4) 6-4 6-3.  I have been impressed with Gulbis this year, who has been playing at a pretty consistent level since winning the title in Delray Beach as a qualifier in February.  Yes, his temperament is questionable at times, but he has an incredibly dangerous game that will certainly trouble Tsonga.  In a best of three set match I would probably back Gulbis, but over five sets on grass, I have to stay safe and go for Tsonga in a sure-to-be flashy affair.

Prediction - Tsonga to beat Gulbis in 4 tight sets

2. Petra Kvitova v Yaroslava Shvedova
The first round displayed all you need to know about Petra Kvitova; she eased through the first set and served for the match in the second set, but ended up having to beat Coco Vandeweghe in three awkward sets, 6-1 5-7 6-4.  For Kvitova, a win is a win and I always remain hopeful (yes I am deluded) that she can find that 2011 form again.  The 2nd round presents a very dangerous opponent in Yaroslava Shvedova, who pushed Serena hard in a stunning 4th round clash at last year's Wimbledon.  The Kazakh has been out injured since Roland Garros, but she managed a comfortable, drama-free win over Kiki Bertens in the first round, 6-4 6-3.  At the beginning of the season, Shvedova went on an incredible run of losses that saw her lose six matches in a row including five three-setters.  Since Stuttgart, she has turned it around, but she remains a very fragile player mentally.  I expect this match to have a lot of changes in momentum and feature a mixture of stupendous striking and maddening mistakes.... Kvitova just gets the edge for me.

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Shvedova in 3 very tight sets

3.Sloane Stephens v Andrea Petkovic
Andrea Petkovic
I found trying to pick two matches to preview on the ladies match incredibly difficult because there are so many good ones; I decided to go slightly left field and give a shout out to Andrea Petkovic.  The German player has had the roughest luck of late with injuries and apparently questioned carrying on following a loss in French Open qualifying last month.  Since then, she has gritted her teeth and won 10 of her last 11 matches including a straight sets first round win over Pauline Parmentier.  Her second rounder will be against Sloane Stephens, who overcame a tired looking Jamie Hampton, 6-3 6-3.  I put my hands up, I called it majorly wrong as Hampton was a spent force.  Sloane looked solid on the grass and has a terrific opening in the draw, but do not write off Petkovic just yet.  She is one of the most engaging personalities on the WTA tour and her recent injury ordeals will make her an even pluckier character than before.  I definitely think three sets, but I am going for Sloane to edge it because I think her game suits better to the grass.

Prediction - Stephens to beat Petkovic in 3 sets

4.Radek Stepanek v Jerzy Janowicz
If you are looking for a bit of drama, a match-up between Radek Stepanek and Jerzy Janowicz is bound to dish up bucket loads of attitude and entertainment.  Janowicz lost first round in Halle, but he was in fine form to dispatch the young and talented Brit Kyle Edmund, 6-2 6-2 6-4.  Stepanek was also a straight sets winner on day 1 as he beat the Aussie qualifier, Matt Reid by an identical scoreline to Janowicz.  The pair have never played before and I think this should be a really entertaining grass court clash.  Stepanek's serve and volley game matches up well on this surface and I think he will take out Jerzy in this one...

Prediction - Stepanek to beat Janowicz in 4 sets

Best of the rest: 2nd round womens predictions
Monica Puig to beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa in 2 sets
Lesia Tsurenko to beat Eva Birnerova in 2 tight sets
Caroline Wozniacki to beat Petra Cetkovska in 3 sets - Cetkovska crushed Donna Vekic in the first round and if you are looking for a match to have a risky punt on, this is the one for you.
Marion Bartoli to beat Christina McHale in 2 very tight sets
Sorana Cirstea to beat Camila Giorgi in 3 sets
Lucie Safarova to beat Karin Knapp in 2 sets
Maria Sharapova to beat Michelle Larcher de Brito in 2 sets

Ekaterina Makarova to beat Garbine Muguruza in 3 sets
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to beat Carla Suarez Navarro in 2 sets *UPSET*
Ana Ivanovic to beat Eugenie Bouchard in 2 tight sets
Jelena Jankovic to beat Vesna Dolonc in 2 sets
Kirsten Flipkens to beat Bojana Jovanovski in 2 very tight sets
Hsieh Su-Wei to beat Alize Cornet in 2 sets *UPSET*

Best of the rest: 2nd round mens predictions
Steve Darcis to beat Lukas Kubot in 5 sets
Benoit Paire to Stephane Robert in 5 sets
John Isner to beat Adrian Mannarino in 4 sets
Lleyton Hewitt to beat Dustin Brown in 3 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Guillaume Rufin in 3 sets
Julien Reister to beat Jurgen Melzer in 5 sets
Roger Federer to beat Sergiy Stakhovsky in 3 sets

Julien Benneteau to beat Fernando Verdasco in 4 sets
Juan Monaco to beat Rajeev Ram in 3 tight sets
Marin Cilic to beat Kenny De Schepper in 3 sets
Viktor Troicki to beat Andrey Kuznetsov in 4 sets
Mikhail Youzhny to beat Vasek Pospisil in 4 sets
Nicolas Mahut to beat Tommy Robredo in 3 sets *UPSET*
Andy Murray to beat Yen-Hsun Lu in 3 tight sets

Monday, 24 June 2013

Wimbledon Day 1: Steve Darcis stuns Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal
The first two days at Wimbledon are normally the most frenetic of the year and 2013 has already thrown up it's fair share of incredible drama as Rafael Nadal was sensationally beaten by Steve Darcis, 7-6(4) 7-6(8) 6-4.  Firstly, huge credit to Darcis for what was a terrific performance, but I found it a rather odd ending because there was absolutely no doubt that Nadal was physically struggling.  There were many points in the third set where he was visibly limping.  I find it hard to understand why he would turn up at Wimbledon if there were serious issues with his knees unless it was something that developed during the match.  Normally after a big shock upset I am buzzing, but I felt an odd anticlimactic feeling because it was inevitable at the end that Nadal would succumb to defeat and he would not be able to come through in 5 sets.  I also wanted to see a Nadal-Federer quarter-final!

Sara Errani joined Nadal on the sidelines as she was bundled out by a superb performance from Monica Puig, 6-3 6-2.  The Italian has never looked at home on the grass, but I expected her to at least get through a few rounds.  Errani's section also lost Varvara Lepchenko today so there will definitely be a surprise name in the 4th round and I really hope its Puig.  In other matches, Petra Kvitova toiled to victory over Coco Vandeweghe in 3 sets and Sloane Stephens overcame a tired Jamie Hampton, 6-3 6-3. Victoria Azarenka suffered a huge injury scare against Maria Joao Koehler as she hurt her knee in a heavy fall, but came through in straight sets and Maria Sharapova edged past Kiki Mladenovic in a high quality straight sets win.

Tomorrow I will start my day previews of the action.  I had a pretty poor day of predictions, but what an amazing day of tennis!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

ATP Wimbledon: Preview and Predictions

The mens half has thrown up one half featuring Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, meanwhile Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer are comfortably sitting in the other half.  Let's get straight down to analysing the draw...

First Quarter - N.Djokovic (1) v T.Berdych (7)
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic will have very happy with the draw as he has avoided Federer, Nadal and Murray, and will be the overwhelming favourite to make the final from the top half.  First up for Nole is Florian Mayer, who he defeated in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.  Djokovic's first test is likely to be another German, Tommy Haas in the round of 16.  Haas has rolled back the years with his performances this year and his consistency has inched him to the brink of the top 10.  Haas opens up against Dmitry Tursunov and will likely meet the winner of the Eastbourne final and one of the toughest first round matches between Gilles Simon and Feliciano Lopez, in round three.

Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych will be the big two battling to play Djokovic in the quarter-finals.  Gasquet has famously struggled at Grand Slams with a 1-15 record in 4th round matches but perhaps the biggest surprise in my draw is that I think he will make the quarters here.  The first seed that Gasquet could meet is Sam Querrey in the third round, who will have his hands full with Bernard Tomic in the first round.  Berdych had a shocker of a draw in Paris, but has been dealt a much kinder hand in Wimbledon.  He takes on Martin Klizan in the first round and is projected to meet Kevin Anderson in the third round, who he has beaten on eight times occasions... basically a plum draw.

A Berdych-Gasquet fourth rounder would be fascinating and I am backing Gasquet if it takes place.  Berdych did not look that impressive at Queens going out to Marin Cilic and he lost both his matches at Wimbledon and the Olympics last year.  Gasquet's form has been much better of late and he holds a 5-3 lead in the head-to-head with Berdych including a stunning straight sets victory in Miami earlier this year.

1st Round Predictions: Djokovic to beat Mayer in 3 tight sets, Harrison to beat Chardy in 4 sets, Lopez to beat Simon in 5 sets, Haas to beat Tursunov in 4 sets, Gasquet to beat Granollers in 3 sets, Querrey to beat Tomic in 5 sets and Berdych to beat Klizan in 4 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Djokovic v Gasquet

Second Quarter - D.Ferrer (4) v J.M. del Potro (8)
Juan Martin del Potro
David Ferrer hung on to his number 4 seed and has a chance of defending last year's points with an incredibly positive looking draw.   Ferrer did lose first round in s'Hertogenbosch to Xavier Malisse, but his first two match-ups at Wimbledon should not present much of a challenge.  He is seeded to meet Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round.  His path will steepen in the 4th round where he could meet the winner of an interesting third rounder between Milos Raonic and Philipp Kohlschreiber.  Raonic is 0-4 in sets on grass this year, meanwhile Kohlschreiber made the quarters of Halle and bombed out at the first opportunity in Eastbourne, like Raonic.  I really like Kohlschreiber on grass and if he can get through Ivan Dodig in the first round he would be my tip for the 4th round.

Juan Martin del Potro is on course for a tempting third rounder with Grigor Dimitrov.  Del Potro plays Albert Ramos in the first round, meanwhile Dimitrov has Simone Bolleli.  I expect both players to make it to the 3rd round where I see del Potro knocking off Dimitrov.  I think the Bulgarian has a good game for this surface, but del Potro was solid at Queens and let's not forget that he did claim the bronze medal at the Olympics last year.  Kei Nishikori is the highest seed Del Potro could meet before the quarters. Andreas Seppi is also here, but in truth it is a limp section of the draw.  I like Michael Llodra on this surface and he could make the 4th round.

1st Round Predictions: Raonic to beat Berlocq in 3 sets, Kudla to beat Duckworth in 4 sets, Kohlschreiber to beat Dodig in 5 sets, Llodra to beat Nieminen in 4 sets, Seppi to beat Istomin in 5 sets, Dimitrov to beat Bolelli in 5 sets and Zemlja to beat Russell in 5 sets.

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Ferrer v del Potro

Third Quarter - R.Nadal (5) v R.Federer (3)
Roger Federer
The big question in the draw was who of the big four would get Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals and it was Roger Federer who drew the short straw.  As I write this preview, I am actually struggling for inspiration because I do not think the mens draw will really kick off until the quarter-finals.  Both Nadal and Federer have very straightforward paths on paper.  Nadal will play Steve Darcis in the first round before a potential third rounder with the wacky Benoit Paire.  The biggest interest early on will be the first round match between Lleyton Hewitt and Stanislas Wawrinka.  Hewitt was fantastic at Queens, but Wawrinka has been no slouch making the finals in s'Hertogenbosch.  He has been much tougher mentally this year so I would back Stan to make the fourth round.  Also of note in this section is John Isner playing Evgeny Donskoy, who knocked him out of s'Hertogenbosch last week.  I would still think over five sets that Isner will come good.

Federer has Victor Hanescu in the first round who will never have the longetivity to threaten in this match.  In the third round, he should meet Fabio Fognini, who has Lukas Rosol, the big headline maker of Wimbledon 2012, in his section.  Nicolas Almagro and Jerzy Janowicz are also present, but neither are dangers to Federer.  Almagro has not played since his 4th round collapse to Tommy Robredo at Roland Garros, meanwhile Janowicz lost to the world number 240, Mirza Basic in his first match of Halle.  Radek Stepanek would definitely be my tip to upset Janowicz and Almagro and meet Federer in the 4th round.

1st Round Predictions: Nadal to beat Darcis in 4 sets, Isner to beat Donskoy in 4 sets, Wawrinka to beat Hewitt in 5 sets, Janowicz to beat Edmund in 4 sets, Fognini to beat Melzer in 3 sets and Federer to beat Hanescu in 3 sets (1 tight, 2 easy).

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Nadal v Federer

Fourth Quarter - J.W.Tsonga (6) v A.Murray (2)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Although Andy Murray avoided Rafael Nadal in his quarter, he has a tough draw as he attempts to win his first Wimbledon title.  At the start of the year, I had Murray earmarked for Wimbledon and his performances at Queen have put him back in contention having missed Roland Garros.  Murray's first match will be Benny Becker, who he beat in straight sets at Queens.  Marathon man, Tommy Robredo is Murray's first possible seed although don't discount Nicolas Mahut to come through as he has rather suddenly hit some sweet form, winning the title in s'Hertogenbosch.  Janko Tipsarevic and Mikhail Youzhny are likely to be battling to meet Murray in the 4th round.  If you have read my previous blogs, you will know my stance on Tipsarevic.  Youzhny actually looks to be one of the safest bests in the draw to make the last 16.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga returns to Wimbledon where he has made the semi-finals in the last two years; however he has drawn a deceptively dangerous draw.  David Goffin will be first up, but a second round match with Ernests Gulbis will be very interesting.  I am pretty disappointed with the mens draw in that all four of the floaters I had noted drew toughies.  Another of those looming, Xavier Malisse drew Fernando Verdasco in the first round.  Malisse is a bit of a grass court GOAT, but Verdasco has really steadied the ship of late and thrashed Malisse down under in Melbourne earlier this year.  

Tsonga is projected to meet Julien Benneteau in the third round, who pushed Federer all the way last year in one of the highlights from the 2012 mens draw.  I am very confident Marin Cilic will be waiting for Tsonga in the 4th round.  This is another weak section of the draw that features Juan Monaco and is so lame that I think Monaco, not a natural grass courter, will make the third round.

1st Round Predictions: Tsonga to beat Goffin in 3 sets, Gulbis to beat Roger-Vasselin in 4 sets, Malisse to beat Verdasco in 5 sets, Benneteau to beat Kamke in 5 sets, Monaco to beat Knittel in 5 sets, Cilic to beat Baghdatis in 4 sets, Tipsarevic to beat Troicki in 4 sets, Youzhny to beat Haase in 3 sets, Lu to beat Ward in 4 sets and Murray to beat Becker in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Tsonga v Murray

Moo's Final Prediction: A Murray d. N.Djokovic
As mentioned above, I had Murray to win Wimbledon at the start of the year and I thought he did well enough at Queens for me to give him the nod as my Wimbledon champion.  I think that going in his favour is that he will be very fresh having missed RG and avoiding Nadal in the quarters.  I think the Nadal-Federer quarter (please happen) will be a great spectacle and I would go for Rafa to come through.  Nadal has been constantly playing down his chances for Wimbledon, but I am still wary that he could storm it again.  Djokovic really should be making the final from the top half and I will be shocked if he doesn't come through.

You can view my full predictions for my mens draw at Wimbledon HERE

Play gets underway on Monday at 11.30am and my previews for each day will begin from Tuesday evening.  I will be stuck at work for the first four days, but I am off from this Friday and will be able devote a bit more time to my blog in the second week :-)  

I will also be going to Wimbledon on the middle Saturday as my brother got late returns in the central Wimbledon ballot so there will be another report along with part two of Eastbourne down the road.  I will also be live tweeting next on Saturday so please give me a follow @MooTennisBlog if that sounds of interest to you... Enjoy Wimbledon everyone and please keep following Moo's Tennis Blog throughout the next two weeks :-)

WTA Wimbledon: Preview and Predictions

There is so much to discuss so lets get straight down to dissecting the womens Wimbledon draw for 2013...

First Quarter - S.Williams (1) v A.Kerber (7)
Serena Williams
Serena Williams will arrive in Wimbledon as the heavy favourite to win the Venus Rosewater Dish for the 6th time.  Serena is on a 29-match winning streak and there is certainly an uneasy feeling in the air that this could be a walk in the park... but will it? Serena opens up her title defence against Mandy Minella before taking on Caroline Garcia or Zheng Jie in the second round.  Garcia lost to Serena at this same stage of Roland Garros this year, meanwhile Zheng pushed the American all the way in a fantastic third rounder at Wimbledon last year.  Serena's first seed could be Tamira Paszek although the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist has been struggling with injuries and form, and pulled out of her first match in Eastbourne with a hamstring injury.

Sam Stosur is projected to meet Serena in the 4th round, but the one to watch will be Sabine Lisicki. The German firecracker has made at least quarter-finals here in the last two years, but she does have an extremely tricky draw.  In round one, she plays Francesca Schiavone, who is frequently overlooked as not having the game for grass despite posting consistent results at Wimbledon.  An even tougher test for Sabine could come in the form of the Eastbourne champion, Elena Vesnina, in the second round.  Stosur, who is projected to meet Lisicki in round three, has won only 1 of her last 5 matches at Wimbledon; however her first two rounds are both winnable.  Vesnina is the dark horse in this section, but it's hard to go against Sabine at Wimbledon.

Angelique Kerber and Maria Kirilenko are the two highest seeds in the section vying to meet Serena in the quarters.  Last year's semi-finalist, Kerber has a very tough start against Bethanie Mattek-Sands, which could follow with Kaia Kanepi in round two.  I think Kerber has the experience to come through both of those tests, but both Mattek-Sands and Kanepi have the potential to hit a hot patch of form.  If Mattek does what she did to Li at Roland Garros then Kerber will be in danger.  

I really like Alison Riske's chances in this section as she was deservedly given a late wildcard into the tournament following her sterling efforts in Birmingham.  She has a drawn a seed in Romina Oprandi, but she has won their two previous encounters and has lots of grass court matches under her belt.   Kirilenko has drawn home favourite, Laura Robson in the first round, but the rest of her draw looks relatively clear.  I will be cheering for Laura, but I think Kirilenko is the type of player who will get a lot of balls back and frustrate Laura into making unforced errors.

1st Round Predictions: Lisicki to beat Schiavone in 3 sets, Vesnina to beat Hlavackova in 3 sets, Kirilenko to beat Robson in 2 tight sets, Erakovic to beat Morita in 2 tight sets, Riske to beat Oprandi in 2 sets and Kerber to beat Mattek-Sands in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: S.Williams v Kerber

Second Quarter - A.Radwanska (4) v L.Na (6)
Aga Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska was a surprise Wimbledon finalist last year and with a rather tame draw, she could easily defend the majority of those points.  Just like 2012, Aga comes into Wimbledon with one grass court match under her belt having lost first round at Eastbourne.  Yvonne Meusberger will provide no problems in the first round.  Mona Barthel is a likely 3rd round opponent, but I think it is more likely to be Madison Keys, who takes on the Brit Heather Watson in round one.  Barthel has been incredibly fragile of late in trying to close out sets / matches so I will be surprised if she wins her first round match against Monica NiculescuNadia Petrova looms for Radwanska in the 4th round, but she has not won a match since Madrid.  I think Tsvetana Pironkova is the one to watch in this section; the former Wimbledon semi-finalist takes on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the first round.  Pav always seems to flop at the important tournaments and has never done anything special on the grass.

In a situation similar to that of Roland Garros, Li Na is likely to meet a dangerous floater in the second round.  Simona Halep has been in tremendous form of late, winning Nurnberg on clay and then quickly adjusting to claim the title in s'Hertogenbosch.  She posted straight set wins over Roberta Vinci, Carla Suarez Navarro and Kirsten Flipkens and absolutely dominated the field.  The Romanian beat Li in her only previous match.  I do not have much confidence in Li right now and I think she will be heading out of SW19 within the first couple of days.  The Birmingham champion, Daniela Hantuchova is also in this section and should have the weapons to take out the slumping, Klara Zakopalova in a tough first rounder.  Roberta Vinci and Dominika Cibulkova should meet in the other third round match in what is a decidedly lacklustre section.

1st Round Predictions:  Keys to beat Watson in 3 sets, Niculescu to beat Barthel in 2 tight sets, Pironkova to beat Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets, Petrova to beat Pliskova in 3 sets, Vinci to beat Scheepers in 2 sets, Hantuchova to beat Zakopalova in 2 tight sets and Li to beat Krajicek in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Radwanska v Hantuchova

Third Quarter - S.Errani (5) v M.Sharapova (3)
Maria Sharapova
Sara Errani certainly does not hide the fact that she is not at home on the grass courts and she was on the wrong side of a golden set last year when she lost to Yaroslava Shvedova in the third round.  To be honest, her draw has been very kind and I would have loved to see one of the dangerous floaters in this section.  Errani takes on Monica Puig first up, a real up-and-comer, but she didn't look that impressive at Eastbourne falling in the second round of qualifying.  Errani's first seed could be Varvara Lepchenko; I was not blown away by the American at Eastbourne, but she has beaten Sara before and I would back her to make it in the last 16.

The most intriguing mini-section features the pick of the first round matches, which I have spent the last day deliberating over.  The Eastbourne runner-up (who based on next week's rankings would have been seeded), Jamie Hampton has drawn Sloane Stephens.  Hampton will be ultra confident following wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, but she had to play 8 matches in Eastbourne and although Sloane has no matches on grass, she will be fresh.  I expect the winner of that match to sweep through to the quarters.  They will likely play Wozniacki in the third round, who will have a tough second round match against Petra Cetkovska or Birmingham finalist, Donna Vekic.  Wozniacki had a good week at Eastbourne, but I do not see her as being a threat at all at Wimbledon.

Maria Sharapova has a pretty cushy draw as it always seems to be in the Grand Slams.  I am intrigued though by her opener against Kristina Mladenovic, who has a big game and might grab a set.  Lucie Safarova is the first potential seed in round three for Maria and she always runs Maria close, but she is too mentally fragile to be a threat.  Marion Bartoli and Sorana Cirstea are the other two seeds within this section, which could pave the way for an interesting third round match if both get there.  Bartoli was forced to pull out of Eastbourne through illness, but looked reasonably good in her first match against Flavia Pennetta.  Cirstea has been marginally more consistent this year, but can still deliver up a shocker (against Vekic in the Birmingham quarter-finals was a prime example).

1st Round Predictions: Errani to beat Puig in 3 sets, Hampton to beat Stephens in 3 sets *do not bet on it!*, Vekic to beat Cetkovska in 3 sets, Bartoli to beat Svitolina in 2 tight sets, Cirstea to beat Voegele in 2 tight sets, Oudin to beat Larcher de Brito in 3 sets and Sharapova to beat Mladenovic in 2 very tight sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Hampton v Sharapova

Fourth Quarter - P.Kvitova (8) v V.Azarenka (2)
Petra Kvitova
All season I have been waiting for a match-up between Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka and once again, they have been drawn to meet in the quarters.  Kvitova won the Wimbledon title back in 2011, but has really struggled for any consistency since winning the title in Dubai earlier this year.  She does love this surface though and  if she hits a hot patch of form then she might be the only who can legitimately challenge Serena.  Kvitova plays Coco Vandeweghe in round one before potentially meeting Yaroslava Shvedova (in round two) and  Ekaterina Makarova (in round three).  Makarova beat Kvitova at Eastbourne last year and is a very competent grass courter.  However like Kvitova, her concentration wavers dramatically.  Ana Ivanovic and Carla Suarez Navarro are both in this section and I do not fancy either to have great tournaments.  Perhaps Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who beat Bartoli here last year, is worth a punt for a good run in this section.

The new world number 2, Victoria Azarenka opens up her Wimbledon campaign against Maria Joao Koehler and will meet either Elena Baltacha or Flavia Pennetta in the second round.  The British players have all got tough draws, but Baltacha is the only Brit I predict will make the second round.  Vika is due to meet Alize Cornet in the third round, who gave her a stern test at Roland Garros, but watch out for Hsieh Su-Wei who is pretty nifty on grass.  Jelena Jankovic and Kirsten Flipkens are the top seeds in the section that could meet Vika in round 4.  Jankovic has no grass court matches this year and this is by far her weakest slam.  A duo of Belgians will not be easy; Yanina Wickmayer in round two would be tough, but I think she will come unstuck against Flipkens in the third round.  The Belgian number one opens against Yulia Putintseva and may have to play Ajla Tomljanovic again, who she sneaked past in Birmingham.

1st Round Predictions: Shvedova to beat Bertens in 3 sets, Lucic-Baroni to beat Arvidsson in 2 tight sets, Voskoboeva to beat Bouchard in 3 sets, Ivanovic to beat Razzano in 2 sets, Jankovic to beat Konta in 3 sets, Tomljanovic to beat Jovanovski in 3 sets, Flipkens to beat Putintseva in 2 sets, Baltacha to beat Pennetta in 2 tight sets and Azarenka to beat Koehler in 2 easy sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Kvitova v Azarenka

Moo's Final Prediction: S.Williams d. V.Azarenka
No shocks in my final predictions as I am certainly not brave enough to go against Serena Williams claiming the RG and Wimbledon double.  I think Azarenka will beat Sharapova in the semi-finals, although I am still intrigued by Kvitova.  She can do so much damage on this surface if she applies both her game and brain to the situation, but I think it is just too much of a risk.  I still have Kvitova to the quarters including a few surprises with Hantuchova and Hampton.  Li and Errani are the two top eight seeds I predict will fall early.

You can view my full predictions for the womens draw at Wimbledon HERE