Monday, 30 September 2013

WTA Beijing 2nd Round Predictions: Wimbledon stars, Venus and Lisicki to clash

A cracking schedule for tomorrow, but unfortunately some great matches including Sloane-Bouchard will be on untelevised courts...

1. Venus Williams v Sabine Lisicki
Sabine Lisicki
Two players that have had their greatest successes at Wimbledon will square off in a blockbuster second round clash in Beijing.  Venus Williams had a bye in the first round after a stunning run to the semi-final in Tokyo.  Tiredness could be an issue, but the fact she made an intent to play doubles with Serena (they did lose their first round match) for the first non Grand Slam in several years, is a positive sign.  

Sabine Lisicki won her first match against Chanelle Scheepers, 6-3 6-2 after a shaky start.  The German player has struggled with momentum since Wimby because of injuries but she has been doing alright notching up wins against players she is expected to beat.  The pair are level at 1-1 in their head-to-head with Venus winning their last match in Dubai in 2010 (see video below).  This time round, it will be much close but I think if Venus is in good physical shape, then she has the beating of Sabine.

Does anyone remember this? One-sided scoreline, but a great match.

Prediction - Venus to beat Lisicki in 2 very tight sets

2. Angelique Kerber v Laura Robson
Angelique Kerber
Life on a tennis court was completely different the last time Angelique Kerber and Laura Robson played each other at Wimbledon in 2011.  This match, which Robson won 4-6 7-6(4) 6-3 for her first ever Grand Slam win and saw Kerber give one of the bitchiest handshakes you could imagine, was the turning point for the German.  It spurred Kerber into life and to take her tennis more seriously... since then she has cracked the top 10 and made 2 Grand Slam semi-finals.  

In those two years, Robson has also become a much better player, both stronger and more experienced, and she now has the potential to beat pretty much anyone on her day (with the ability to lose to ANYONE too).  Kerber is coming in as the Tokyo finalist so had a bye in the first round, meanwhile Robson overcome Klara Zakopalova in a three set opener.  This was a good, solid win following a disappointing run in Asia so far.  There's no doubt that Laura stands a chance and particularly so if Kerber sits back.  If Kerber draws on her form in Tokyo and does take a few chances, she should exact some Wimby revenge.

Prediction - Kerber to beat Robson in 3 sets

3. Sloane Stephens v Eugenie Bouchard
S. Stephens
Tokyo rematch time will see Sloane Stephens and Eugenie Bouchard square off in the second round of Beijing.  Both came through their opening matches in straight sets with Sloane defeating Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-4 6-4 and Bouchard comfortably seeing off Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-4 6-1.  Their match in Tokyo was an absolute epic, but again like this one, it will not be streamed so we can only go on what appeared on the scoreboard.  Both players saw leads wiped out and it was Sloane who first served for the match; however it was Eugenie, now ranked at world number 36 and the highest teenager, who was able to close out a 5-7 7-6 6-3 victory.  The Canadian should improve on that ranking again with 3 wins already in Beijing.  It is hard to go against the player who won last time and particularly with Bouchard in such excellent form; however with it being so close last time, if Sloane gets a chance to close, she shouldn't make the same mistake twice.

Prediction - Stephens to beat Bouchard in 3 sets

Best of the rest: WTA 2nd round Beijing predictions
Serena Williams to beat Francesca Schiavone in 2 sets
Maria Kirilenko to beat Urszula Radwanska in 2 tight sets
Caroline Wozniacki to beat Monica Niculescu in 2 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Zhang Shuai in 3 sets
Petra Kvitova to beat Varvara Lepchenko in 2 sets
Li Na to beat Bojana Jovanovski in 2 tight sets
Carla Suarez Navarro to beat Lauren Davis in 2 sets

Sunday, 29 September 2013

ATP Beijing, Tokyo: Preview and Predictions

8 of the world's top 10 men will be in either Beijing or Tokyo this week.  Both are 32 player draws and have some really good potential match-ups.

ATP Beijing
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal light up a stunning stack of men heading to Beijing.  Djokovic opens up against Lukas Rosol, who has unsurprisingly not been able to live up to his stunning win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012.  The Serb will not have a complete walkover to the final as he could meet Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarters, who has pushed him to 5 sets in both their matches this year.  Stan doesn't have an easy draw himself with Andreas Seppi up first (all I can think of is that incredible match they played in Rome last year) and potentially, Mikhail Youzhny in the second round.

Nadal will also have some competition as he plays a qualifier in round one and then could meet Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round, who was the only player other than Djokovic to take a set off him en route to the US Open title.  Tommy Haas could await in the quarters if he can get through the tireless efforts of Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.

In the middle quarters, David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet could square off in a US Open quarter-final rematch,  meanwhile John Isner and Tomas Berdych are the top seeds in the third quarter.  Gasquet made the semi-finals of Bangkok this week where he fell to Milos Raonic in 3 sets.  Ferrer surprisingly lost to champion, Joao Sousa in Kuala Lumpur, who is definitely a name to keep an eye on.  Ferrer plays Montreal semi-finalist, Vasek Pospisil in the first round and could meet Kuala Lumpur finalist, Julien Benneteau in the second round.

1st Round Predictions: Djokovic to beat Rosol in 2 sets, Youzhny to beat Querrey in 2 tight sets, Wawrinka to beat Seppi in 3 sets, Ferrer to beat Pospisil in 3 sets, Gasquet to beat Flo. Mayer in 2 tight sets, Berdych to beat Andujar in 2 sets, Haas to beat Hewitt in 3 sets and Robredo to beat Fognini in 3 sets

Semi-final Predictions: Djokovic d. Gasquet, Nadal d. Isner

Moo's Final Prediction: Nadal d. Djokovic

ATP Tokyo
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
For Beijing I have gone pretty much with the seedings, but I see quite a few upsets in Tokyo starting with the number 1 seed, Juan Martin del Potro, who has taken a wildcard into the tournament.  The Argentine has been hampered with a wrist injury and has often struggled against his first round opponent, Marcos Baghdatis, who has beaten him twice and took him to a third set tiebreak in Dubai earlier this year.  I don't expect much from Janko Tipsarevic, who is projected to meet del Potro in the quarter-finals.

The draw is bookended by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who made a solid return from injury two weeks ago when he made the final in Metz eventually losing out to Gilles Simon.  Tsonga's first round match is the pick of the bunch as he takes on fellow entertainer, Gael Monfils.  Tsonga leads the head-to-head by 3 wins to 1 and won their last encounter in Doha at the start of 2012.  Whoever comes through that clash is likely to meet Ivan Dodig in the second round, who is my surprise tip for the title.

Gilles Simon and Milos Raonic should also do well in this draw.  Simon, who struggled all summer due to whooping cough, make a triumphant return in Metz and made the semi-finals in Bangkok where he pushed Tomas Berdych to 3 sets.  Raonic has continued his good form over the summer and exacted revenge over Richard Gasquet in Bangkok on his way to the title.  He takes on Go Soeda in the first round and should be a lock to at least the quarter-finals.

1st Round Predictions: Baghdatis to beat del Potro in 3 sets, Brands to beat Dolgopolov in 3 sets, Nishikori to beat Melzer in 3 sets, Lopez to beat Ito in 2 sets, Chardy to beat Llodra in 2 tight sets, Simon to beat Granollers in 2 tight sets, Nieminen to beat Monaco in 3 sets and Tsonga to beat Monfils in 3 sets

Moos' Final Prediction: Dodig d. Lopez

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Petra Kvitova wins Tokyo beating Angelique Kerber in the final, 6-2 0-6 6-3

Petra Kvitova
Every now and then, Petra Kvitova manages to find her groove and this week in Tokyo was certainly one of those weeks.  The final, which I must admit I did not get up at 5am for, featured a scoreline that told a thousand stories.  Petra completely went off her game in the second set, but in the end, she managed to piece it together to claim her second title of the year (after Dubai in February) with a 6-2 0-6 6-3 victory over Angelique Kerber.  I was most impressed by Kvitova's performances in her quarter-final against Svetlana Kuznetsova and semi-final against Venus Williams where she found a great balance in her play.

I have seen quite a few people ask is Petra back, notably Matt Cronin.  There is definitely not enough evidence to suggest that Petra is "back" and I don't really agree with the premise because even when Petra was at her best in 2011, she was always an inconsistent player.  For example when she produced her best ever tennis to win Wimbledon, she went 2-3 W-L record through the summer hard court season.  I think what would be great to see is more consistent performances where she is more in control of her shots.  Unfortunately, I don't think there will ever come a time when Kvitova can produce these types of performances week in, week out because of the nature of her game and the way she goes for her shots.

If you happened to miss the final, I have linked the highlights below, which feature a sensational match point starting at 7:30.  Also a heads up to Kerber, who had her best week of the year.  She has opened up her chances of qualifying for the YEC in Istanbul now and hopefully, she can build on this week where she was more aggressive and it paid dividends for her.  Kvitova should be in Istanbul, which I am happy about because she had to retire last year with an illness and she is great indoors... it could also give us a great chance of that all elusive Petra-Vika match.

Match point at 7:30... stunning

Friday, 27 September 2013

WTA Beijing: Preview and Predictions

A Saturday start for Beijing, which sees the return of Serena Williams and Li Na.  Let's take a look at the draw for the final Premier Mandatory of the year.

FIRST PROJECTED QUARTER - S.Williams (1) v C.Wozniacki (6)
Caroline Wozniacki
Serena Williams returns to action this week following her US Open triumph and comfortably in the knowing that she will end the year as the world number one. In her first appearance in Beijing since 2009, Serena opens her tournament against Elena Vesnina.  Her draw looks reasonable and the first seed she is projected to meet is Simona Halep, who lost out to her sister, Venus in a tough third round match in Tokyo.  The best first round match in this mini-section pits Francesca Schiavone against Alize Cornet with the Italian holding a 9-1 lead in their head-to-head.

Serena's projected quarter-final opponent is Caroline Wozniacki, who had a really positive week in Tokyo making the semi-finals.  I thought she was the most aggressive I had seen her in years and I was particularly impressed with her quarter-final win over Safarova where she recovered from a set down to win.  Her first match will be against Annika Beck or Monica Niculescu, the latter who made the semi-finals at this event in 2011.  Wozniacki could meet Sloane Stephens in the third round, which considering both are in the running for the year-ending-champs in Istanbul, would be a clash worth watching.

1st Round Predictions: S.Williams to beat Vesnina in 2 sets, Cornet to beat Schiavone in 3 sets, Zheng to beat Kirilenko in 2 tight sets, Stephens to beat Wozniak in 3 sets and Niculescu to beat Beck in 2 sets

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

SECOND PROJECTED QUARTER - A.Radwanska (3) v A.Kerber (7)
Aga Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska heads up the second quarter following a last 8 appearance in Tokyo where tiredness was definitely an issue in her loss to Angelique Kerber, who is firmly rooted in her quarter again.  Aga will take on Stefanie Voegele in the first round before a potential second round match against Madison Keys or Dominika Cibulkova, who meet in an intriguing opener.  Ana Ivanovic looms in the third round, which is a great match up for Radwanska and a terrible one for Ana.  Ivanovic opens against Flavia Pennetta, which is testing on paper, but Ivanovic did win comfortably when they last met in Toronto.

Kerber, coming off the back of a run to the final in Tokyo, will face a tough opener against Klara Zakopalova or Laura Robson.  Both have not have good runs in Asia, but have the potential to be a giant killer on their day.  Roberta Vinci is a potential third round opponent for Kerber.  The Italian remains in the hunt for a spot in the lucrative top eight of the year-ending-champs and she takes on Elina Svitolina in the first round.  An all-Chinese clash between Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai is also one to watch out for as Zhang went on a 9 match winning streaking, claiming the Guangzhou title and just coming up short in Ningbo this week.

1st Round Predictions: Radwanska to beat Voegele in 2 sets, Keys to beat Cibulkova in 3 sets, Ivanovic to beat Pennetta in 2 tight sets, Vinci to beat Svitolina in 2 sets, Zhang to beat Peng in 3 sets and Robson to beat Zakopalova in 2 tight sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: A.Radwanska v Kerber

Li Na
Sara Errani opens up her Beijing campaign with a tough opener, like Tokyo, against Kirsten Flipkens.  Both players were stunning during the first half of the season, but have run out of gas in the last month or two.  I actually think Errani stands a chance of getting through that one.  She may struggle though in round three against a seemingly rejuvenated, Petra Kvitova, who has had a terrific week in making the Tokyo final.  I am also hoping Heather Watson can find some wins to help kick start her 2014 season with some confidence.  She has a winnable opener against Varvara Lepchenko, who she beat earlier this year in Eastbourne and is in equally poor form.

The toughest section of them all features home hope, Li Na, who did really well in Beijing last year making the semi-finals.  Her first match will be against Daniela Hantuchova, who she is 2-4 in the head-to-head record.  If she gets through that, an equally tough match would await in round two against Sorana Cirstea or Bojana Jovanovski.  Cirstea beat Li in Toronto, meanwhile Jovanovski has won two titles in Tashkent and Ningbo since the US Open; admittedly weak tournaments, but wins are wins and give a lot of confidence and she did thrash Cirstea in Guangzhou.  Also in this super strong quarter are Venus Williams and Sabine Lisicki, who could meet in a blockbuster 2nd rounder.

1st Round Predictions: Errani to beat Flipkens in 2 tight sets, Watson to beat Lepchenko in 3 sets, Cirstea to beat Jovanovski in 2 tight sets and Li to beat Hantuchova in 3 set

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Kvitova v Li

FOURTH PROJECTED QUARTER - J.Jankovic (8) v V.Azarenka (2)
The final and fourth quarters features the best array of first round matches beginning with Jelena Jankovic against the International queen, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.  Pav has a 3-1 head-to-head lead, but Jankovic did win their last match in Fed Cup action last year.  It is definitely the toughest of the first round matches to call with Pav winning all 3 of their hard court clashes although I would be inclined to go for Jankovic.  The winner is likely to meet Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round, if she can put a horror loss to Madison Keys in Tokyo behind her, which she lost from a 7-5 5-2 advantage.

Victoria Azarenka returns as the defending champion in Beijing where she takes on Andrea Petkovic.  The last time they played was in Stuttgart in 2012 when Petkovic went over on her ankle and I remember Vika lovingly helping her off the court.  Petko has struggled in the last few weeks, but I hope she can finish the year with some good wins to set herself up for 2014.  It is very possible we could see Azarenka take on Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round, which would be a very interesting contest after Vika laboured to a loss to Venus in the second round of Tokyo.  Poor old Sam Stosur faces Lucie Safarova in the first round, who she lost too last week in Tokyo and has a 2-7 head-to-head record .

1st Round Predictions: Jankovic to beat Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets, Suarez Navarro to beat Mladenovic in 2 sets, Safarova to beat Stosur in 3 sets, Kanepi to beat Goerges in 2 tight sets and Azarenka to beat Petkovic in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Suarez Navarro v Azarenka

Final Prediction: S.Williams d. Li
My thinking is that if Serena is planning to turn up, she means business.  After last week, I have a feeling Azarenka might struggle again this week.  We have waited all year for another Azarenka-Li match and although Li has a real killer of a draw, I think they will meet in the semi-finals.  I think Li would have won the Australian Open had it not been for her unfortunate injuries so she would up for revenge if they did meet.  I don't see many upsets in this draw so it will be interesting to see how it pans out round by round.

WTA Tokyo Final Preview: Petra Kvitova v Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber
Is it just me or has Tokyo been pretty great this week? I felt a bit disinterested during and after the US Open and I don't know if it is because I had a break away from following tennis and it has rejuvenated my interest.  This tournament has been missing the big three, but that hasn't been bothered me because we have had some great match-ups and the last 4 are all quality players.  Both semi-finals were complete contrasts but equally absorbing.  Petra Kvitova delivered her best performance in quite sometime, showing superb mental toughness when facing scoreboard pressure in the 3rd set to edge past Venus Williams, 3-6 6-3 7-6(2).  She was broken just twice during the whole match (as was Venus) and like her performance against Kuznetsova, was controlled and able to maintain a consistent rally ball without smashing the ball out every few shots.  A word for Venus, who has been tremendous all week.  I really hope she can stay healthy because she has proven she definitely has life left in her legs.

I never watched the Indian Wells epic moonball between Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber, but I didn't have high expectations for this one.  I was of course, like my prediction, entirely wrong as both came out playing very aggressively, particularly Wozniacki.  Her backhand was exquisite at times, but the forehand was supremely exploited by Kerber.  Kerber has silently floated through the year, playing far too defensively in a huge chunk of her matches and missing out in the close ones, which she was winning last year by virtue of her intent to go for her shots.  I noticed there was a new face in her camp watching the match and wondered if there has been a coaching change? I know Torben Beltz had been with her for a while, but I didn't see him throughout this match.  Kerber came through in the end holding off an admirable charge to post a 6-4 7-6(5) victory.  Kerber hit 37 winners to just 18 unforced errors and still Wozniacki had a +10 winner / unforced error differential highlighting the quality of this match.

A Kerber-Kvitova final is exciting proposition to me.  Kerber leads the head-to-head by 2 wins to 1; all those matches came last year with Kvitova prevailing in Stuttgart and then Kerber coming through 3 setters in Rome and Cincy.  I thought the first set of their Rome match was stunning and their games match up nicely on the court.  So who is going to win? Well Kerber certainly had the edge in their recent matches, but Kvitova has the firepower to turn things around.  I particularly like the way that Kvitova has been playing this week and although Kerber has looked back to her 2012 form this week, I think Petra's going to prevail in a closely fought final.

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Kerber in 3 sets

Thursday, 26 September 2013

WTA Tokyo Semi-Final Predictions: Venus v Kvitova and Wozniacki v Kerber

Tokyo has been pretty fun this year and the semi-final line-up does not disappoint with four players who have all struggled this year, but shone in Japan.

1. Venus Williams v Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova
The resurgence of Venus Williams continued today as she put away Eugenie Bouchard, 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 in an entertaining contest that broke the 3 hour mark.  It has been a fantastic week for Genie who will break the top 40 and showed a lot of heart and fight in her performances this week.  She is heading straight to Beijing where she heads up the qualifying draw and will play Saisai Zheng in the first round.  Most impressive of Venus's week was being able to tough out two demanding three setters and next up, will be another step up against Petra Kvitova.

Kvitova had a great day on Thursday posting two straight set wins (yes you read that correctly) over Madison Keys, 6-2 6-2 and Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-4 6-1.  The performance against Kuznetsova was one of the most measured and controlled I have seen from her in recent months.  It wouldn't surprise me to read articles saying Petra's back to which I would say hush! Petra will always be an irratic player with her game style, but today she managed to find the perfect balance.

Kvitova and Venus have played twice on the WTA tour; Kvitova stunned Venus in Memphis back in 2008 before she had made a name for herself, but Venus levelled up with a surprising three set win in Miami last year in her first tournament back after being diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome.  Kvitova remains impossible to judge from match-to-match, but I think she's playing well and all these tough matches may catch up with Venus.

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Venus in 3 sets

2. Caroline Wozniacki v Angelique Kerber
Caroline Wozniacki
Where the first semi-final is likely to feature short, sharp rallies dominated by whoever gets the strike in first, this second semi-final is going to be a complete contrast.  The last time that Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber played each other was in Indian Wells earlier this year where Wozniacki prevailed in a slugfest marathon lasting 2 hours and 31 minutes, and featuring moonballs and everything.  

Wozniacki's win today over Lucie Safarova was particularly impressive because a confident Safarova, after wins over Roberta Vinci and Sam Stosur, came out firing and hitting the ball so cleanly, you wondered why on earth she had never featured in the top 10.  Lucie is one of the nicest players on the tour, but unfortunately the mental side of her game has really let her down over the years.  Safarova's form dipped during the match (notably in the third set), but I was surprised how Wozniacki was willing to change her tactics and become more aggressive to put pressure on Lucie and eventually seal a 2-6 6-3 6-2 victory.

Kerber had her first top 10 win of the year as she beat a visibly tiring, Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4 6-4.  Kerber hit a surprisingly high amount of winners, over double the amount Wozniacki hit during her match, which lasted  43 minutes longer.  Kerber's performance today reminded me of her play in 2012 when she was more aggressive and was never shy of hitting some sparkling winners.  Wozniacki and Kerber are tied at 3-3 in their head-to-head and once again, I am a little on the fence.  I would give the edge to Caroline, but Kerber's form today has certainly made me sit up and take note.

Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Kerber in 3 sets 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

WTA Tokyo Quarter-Final Predictions: Experience vs. Youth, Venus vs. Bouchard

1. Venus Williams v Eugenie Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard
The most intriguing of the quarters features two of the giant killers from Tokyo this year as the experience of Venus Williams takes on the youth of Eugenie Bouchard.  Venus upset an illness-riddled Victoria Azarenka in the second round and backed it up with a far superior victory over Simona Halep, battling back from a set and a break deficit to post a 4-6 7-5 6-3 victory.  Bouchard has taken out two contenders for the YEC in Istanbul, Sloane Stephens and today, Jelena Jankovic, which was her second top 10 win, but her first in a completed match.  It was a surprising win, particularly as Jankovic had thrashed Genie in Charleston earlier this year.  This should be a fascinating match and it is a terribly difficult one to call.  My instinct is saying that Venus will edge it...

Prediction - Venus to beat Bouchard in 2 tight sets

2. Angelique Kerber v Agnieszka Radwanska
Wednesday was a wet day in Tokyo, but a really good one for Angelique Kerber, who enjoyed one of her best wins of the year as she snapped a 3 match losing streak against Ana Ivanovic to win comfortably, 6-4 6-2.  She now takes on Agnieszka Radwanska, who also exacted revenge, this time on Dominika Cibulkova, who had triumphed in their last match-up in Stanford.  Aga played a solid match by the stats winning 71% of points behind her serve and breaking at the crucial stage of the second set before successfully serving for the match.  Radwanska leads the head-to-head with Kerber by 4 wins to 2 and has won their last 3 encounters.  In fact this is the 3rd year in a row that they will play in Tokyo and last year, Aga was terrific in handing out two breadsticks.  I think this will be much tighter, but Aga is still my predicted winner.

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Kerber in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: WTA Tokyo Quarter-Final Predictions
Caroline Wozniacki to beat Lucie Safarova in 3 sets *another tough one to call*

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

WTA Tokyo 3rd Round Predictions: Jankovic-Bouchard and Keys-Kvitova

Today saw quite an upset as a struggling, Victoria Azarenka was bundled out of the tournament by Venus Williams, who put in a measured performance to go to 3-0 in their head-to-head.  I have only had a chance to watch the highlights and boy is it weird watching Azarenka not grunting.  I remember she went a set in a match with Flavia Pennetta in Dubai a few years ago where she didn't grunt at all.  She was obviously not feeling great.  It really sucks not being able to watch any of the tennis this week as Tokyo is at a bad time when I am sleeping and at work.  Tomorrow's line-up is pretty great and I would happily watch all 8 matches.

1. Petra Kvitova v Madison Keys
Madison Keys
Wednesday will see some of the hot prospects get a shot at a big scalp.  In this one, Madison Keys takes on Petra Kvitova in a very winnable match for the American.  I really thought that Keys was going to have a massive breakthrough this summer, but a shoulder injury sidelined her in Toronto and Cincy and then she was unlucky to draw Jelena Jankovic in the first round with barely any matches under her belt.  She was heading for a rapid exit in the first round to Carla Suarez Navarro at 7-5 5-2 down, but she produced the comeback of all comebacks to win the match.  She then defeated Peng Shuai in the second round, who is a very competent player on her day. 

Kvitova's form has been as up and down like a yo-yo; illnesses have also affected her at the worst possible times and have been her downfall at the last two Grand Slams.  She came through Belinda Bencic in a tight two setter on Monday.  Kvitova and Keys have never played before on the WTA tour; Kvitova has been so irratic of late that she could quite comfortably lose to anyone.  I feel this one is worth taking a risk because Keys has a big game and she is not afraid of causing a big shock...

Prediction - Keys to beat Kvitova in 3 sets

2. Jelena Jankovic v Eugenie Bouchard
Jelena Jankovic
As Jelena Jankovic comfortably passed by Ayumi Morita in straight sets, Eugenie Bouchard was battling to a huge win in an epic clash with Sloane Stephens.  Bouchard went up 5-0 in the first set in less than 20 minutes, but lost the set, 7-5 and Sloane then served for the match.  Of course, that was not the end of the drama as Bouchard fought back, overcame more jitters in the second set tiebreak to win it and then take the match, 5-7 7-6(7) 6-3 in 2 hours and 19 minutes.  It was a surprising loss for Sloane, but an excellent win for Genie who will crack the top 40 next week.  The WTA tour has a lot of depth right now and the fact that Serena, Azarenka, Sharapova and Li are nowhere to be seen, but the line-up for the last 16 remains very strong is a testament to the quality.  Jankovic won their only previous match in Charleston and I think the game style of JJ does not match up well to Bouchard... JJ to win.

Prediction - Jankovic to beat Bouchard in 2 tight sets

3. Angelique Kerber v Ana Ivanovic
Angelique Kerber
The great match-ups keep coming with the last match on the schedule pitting Angelique Kerber and Ana Ivanovic against each other for the third time this year.  Kerber's form has not been great this year, but she was at her full flowing best in round two as she destroyed Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, 6-0 6-1, and should have got the double bagel if it wasn't for a sloppy service game at the end.  Ivanovic has looked excellent this week, losing a combined 5 games to youngsters, Annika Beck and Elina Svitolina.  Ivanovic leads the head-to-head 3-0; this includes 2 clashes in 2013 with an entertaining two setter in Stuttgart (Davis Cup) and a very comfortable win in Madrid.  I find a lot of my favourite matches over the past 2 years have involved Kerber and I think this match-up, if both play well, has the potential to be a compelling match.  On this occasion, I'm backing Ana.

Prediction - Ivanovic to beat Kerber in 3 sets

4. Dominika Cibulkova v Agnieszka Radwanska
Aga Radwanska
In Sydney, Agnieszka Radwanska won 6-0 6-0 and in Stanford, Dominika Cibulkova won 3-6 6-4 6-4 so goodness knows what is going to happen in this match, a third in 2013 between Aga and Pome.  Radwanska is in some good form having taken the title in Seoul and winning her first match in Japan with a 7-6(5) 6-0 victory over nice-to-see-you-back-from-injury, Aleksandra Wozniak.  Cibulkova's form has dropped off the radar again since winning Stanford, but this week has seen two solid wins so far over Urszula Radwanska and Casey Dellacqua.  Cibulkova was excellent when she turned the tables on Radwanska with a lights out performance in Stanford.  I have a feeling though that it will be tough for Cibulkova to match it again and despite some tiredness, I think Radwanska will progress to the quarter-finals.

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Cibulkova in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: WTA Tokyo 3rd round predictions
Simona Halep to beat Venus Williams in 3 sets
Svetlana Kuznetsova to beat Sorana Cirstea in 3 sets
Lucie Safarova to beat Sam Stosur in 2 tight sets
Caroline Wozniacki to beat Magdalena Rybarikova in 2 sets

Monday, 23 September 2013

WTA Tokyo 2nd Round Preview: Azarenka against Venus tops Tuesday's schedule

1st round action in Tokyo wrapped up today with a series of spectacular collapses.  Madison Keys, who struggled for momentum during the summer hard court season due to a number of injuries, had a really great win over Carla Suarez Navarro as she recovered from a 6-2 5-2 deficit to win 2-6 7-5 6-2.  Last week's Seoul finalist, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, suffered a similar disaster to CSN as she blew several shots at serving for the win over Simona Halep before eventually retiring in the third set.  There are some stunning matches to watch tomorrow although I am back at work so best I can do is highlights!

1. Victoria Azarenka v Venus Williams
Venus Williams
Less than three weeks after losing out to Serena Williams in the US Open final, Victoria Azarenka makes her return to the tour and against none other than Serena's sister, Venus Williams.  Venus has certainly had her struggles this year, most notably with her back, which has severely affected her serve.  However in her first round match, she produced arguably her most convincing performance since making the semis of Charleston as she swiftly dispatched of Mona Barthel in straight sets, 6-3 6-1.  

Venus leads the head-to-head 2-0 with straight set wins in 2008 and 2010; of course Azarenka is a significantly improved player these days, but their last match, which Venus won in the final of Dubai, was a sensational match.  I think this will be another good one and Venus should make a fast start having already played a match this week.  Still, Vika should get through this one.

Prediction - Azarenka to beat V.Williams in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

2. Sloane Stephens v Eugenie Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard
Knocking on the door of the top ten and a place in the WTA year-ending-champs, this is a big week for Sloane Stephens.  The young American enjoyed a no-nonsense straight sets wins over Stephanie Voegele in the first round and takes on the equally talented, Eugenie Bouchard in round two.  Genie took out Monica Puig, 6-0 6-4 and for the second time this year.  Puig won just 6 points in the first set and a whopping 0% on first serve points won.  

Bouchard made the semi-finals of Quebec City two weeks ago and like Sloane, I think she will be one of the promising crop that will hit the big time in the next few years.  This will be a second career match-up with Sloane winning in Washington last year.  I do not see there being much between the pair, but I think Sloane's better ability to close out will edge her into the third round.

Prediction - Stephens to beat Bouchard in a 3rd set tiebreak

3. Sara Errani v Svetlana Kuznetsova
Sara Errani
Question marks surround Sara Errani and how she is going to get on this week in Tokyo after admitting at the US Open that the pressure was getting to her of performing as one of the top seeds.  She will start her Tokyo campaign with a really tough match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.  After labouring through all her matches in July and August following a lengthy spell on the sidelines after the French, Kuznetsova produced some solid wins at the US before eventually falling to Flavia Pennetta.  She was impressive in beating Paula Ormaechea in the first round of Tokyo and handily, 6-1 6-2.  The last time this pair played, Errani dished out a bagel and shocked Sveta with a straight sets win in the 4th round of Roland Garros.  I think this match will see an entirely different outcome...

Prediction - Kuznetsova to beat Errani in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: 2nd Round Tokyo Predictions
Jelena Jankovic to beat Ayumi Morita in 3 sets
Sam Stosur to beat Kimiko Date-Krumm in 2 tight sets
Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Aleksandra Wozniak in 2 sets
Sorana Cirstea to beat Misaki Doi in 3 sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Elina Svitolina in 2 sets
Flavia Pennetta to beat Caroline Wozniacki in 3 sets
Simona Halep to beat Andrea Petkovic in 3 sets
Magdalena Rybarikova to beat Kirsten Flipkens in 2 tight sets
Dominika Cibulkova to beat Casey Dellacqua in 2 sets
Madison Keys to beat Peng Shuai in 2 tight sets

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Moo returns, WTA Tokyo Preview and Predictions

I am pleased to say that Moo's Tennis Blog is back from vacation! I had a lovely week exploring Switzerland.  It was a largely tennis free week, which I really needed because blogging had been pretty much constant since the beginning of the clay court season.  However whilst in Switzerland, I did visit Gstaad where an ATP 250 event is held each year. It is situated in a small ski resort nestled in the mountains and I can imagine it would be a wonderful place to watch some tennis. Pictures below!

Gstaad is in a really lovely setting

The main court at Gstaad

Back to business of previewing the tour events and just 3 weeks after the US Open reached its crescendo and we are already, perhaps too soon, into the Tokyo-Beijing double.  It is no surprise to see some key withdrawals with Serena, Sharapova and Li all missing Tokyo.  The draw is top heavy, but there are some really compelling openers to watch out for.  Play has already got underway with a host of first round matches so let's take a look at the draw.

Projected First Quarter - V.Azarenka v J.Jankovic
Victoria Azarenka
Heading up a Serena-free draw, Victoria Azarenka sits pretty at the top of the Tokyo drawsheet and as the heavy favourite too.  However the US Open finalist has a really sticky draw and will face back-to-back matches against the Williams sisters as she will take on Venus Williams in a blockbuster second rounder after she comfortably defeated Mona Barthel today with a 6-3 6-1 victory.  

Azarenkas's first projected seed is Simona Halep, who remains one of the in-form players on the tour. She was perhaps a little disappointing in only making the last 16 of the US Open where many fancied her to go at least one round and perhaps two rounds further.  She will open her Tokyo campaign against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has maintained her superb form in Internationals this year with a run to the final in Seoul.  She remains unable to translate that form into the big events though with her 3rd round showing at the US her best at a big event all year.

Jelena Jankovic, who is back into the top 10 following a super consistent year where she has performed strongly at the big events, will play Ayumi Morita or Laura Robson in the second round.  This mini-section is littered with many of the hot prospects with Sloane Stephens, Monica Puig and Eugenie Bouchard joining Robson.  After watching Sloane go down to Serena at the US, it was the first time I felt that Sloane does have something special and most important of all, an ability to deliver her A-game on the big stage; this is particularly noted by her making the 4th round at each Slam this year.  I predict that Bouchard will take out Puig in the first round and set up an enticing second rounder with Sloane, which will go down to the wire.

1st Round Predictions: Vesnina to beat Petkovic in 3 sets, Halep to beat Pavlyuchenkova in 2 tight sets, Bouchard to beat Puig in 2 tight sets and Robson to beat Morita in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Azarenka v Stephens

Projected Second Quarter: S.Errani v P.Kvitova
Petra Kvitova
Sara Errani admitted that the pressure of being the number 4 seed at the US Open had really got to her so it will be interesting to see how she copes in Tokyo.  Lurking in round two is the irratic yet never to be discounted, Svetlana Kuznetsova.  I think Errani's words at the US were interesting and with rumours of her pairing with Roberta Vinci, not as strong as they once were, I think she will be facing an early exit.  This section also features the Toronto finalist, Sorana Cirstea, who hadn't won a match since the aforementioned tournament, largely due to injuries; however she notched up a straight sets win over the heavily slumping Julia Goerges in round one.  Varvara Lepchenko has not been moving mountains of late, but she has a very workable draw to the quarters.

Petra Kvitova has been a complete mystery of late with illnesses affecting her last two Grand Slams and perhaps her brain too if recent pictures of her and Radek Stepanek are anything to go by.  Her first match of the week will be against the Wimbledon Juniors champion, Belinda Bencic.  If Kvitova makes it to the last 16, then she is likely to play the winner of a first round tie between Carla Suarez Navarro and Madison Keys, which is one of the most intriguing on paper with a clash of completely different playing styles.

1st Round Predictions: Lepchenko to beat Doi in 2 very tight sets, Peng to beat Ozaki in 2 tight sets and Suarez Navarro to beat Keys in 2 tight sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Lepchenko v Kvitova

Projected Third Quarter: R.Vinci v C.Wozniacki
C. Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki headlines up the third quarter of the draw, which a few years ago she would have been strolling through in her sleep, but these days presents a considerable challenge.  First up will be a US Open quarter-finalist as New York surprise packages, Daniela Hantuchova and Flavia Pennetta meet in the first round. Kirsten Flipkens could await in the third round, but the Wimbledon semi-finalist has really struggled for form with a knee injury hindering her progress. She did however post a morale boosting straight sets win over Barbara Zahlavova Strycova in the first round.

Roberta Vinci and Sam Stosur are destined to meet in the other third round match from this quarter.  Vinci is knocking on the door of the top 10 and a good tournament here will help her chances of breaking another milestone in her career.  She will take on Lucie Safarova in the second round, who restored some confidence after a barren year with the title in Quebec City two weeks ago. Stosur is a bit of a mystery with recent coaching changes, but she posted a solid win yesterday, recovering from losing the first set to Alize Cornet to win, 2-6 6-4 6-1.

1st Round Predictions: Date-Krumm to beat An. Rodionova in 3 sets, Rybarikova to beat Hsieh in 2 sets and Pennetta to beat Hantuchova in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Vinci v Wozniacki

Projected Fourth Quarter: A.Kerber v A. Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska bookends the draw and looks to be in reasonable form having won the title in Seoul, albeit in a pretty average draw.  She had another disappointing Grand Slam at the US as she lost for the first time in 4 meetings to Ekaterina Makarova.  Her draw is likely to pass by Francesca Schivone (round 2) and Dominika Cibulkova (round 3) based on ranking.  Cibulkova's form has been non-existent since a duo of excellent performances in Stanford and Toronto. I have been hoping for more from the big serving Kiki Mladenovic and she could, with a strong performance, possibly make the third round.

Angelique Kerber has had a stuttering 2013 with a string of tough losses epitomising her year.  She fell to Carla Suarez Navarro in a tough 4th rounder at the US although that did come after 2 solid wins over Bouchard and Kanepi.  Kerber's first opponent in Tokyo will be Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor.  A potential third rounder with Ana Ivanovic, who has played reasonably well since splitting with Nigel Sears, will not be straightforward, particularly with a 0-2 head-to-head record and both losses coming this year.

1st Round Predictions: Ivanovic to beat Beck in 2 tight sets, Mladenovic to beat Dellacqua in 2 very tight sets and Schiavone to beat Wozniak in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Ivanovic v A.Radwanska

I could see plenty of upsets this week, but I still see Victoria Azarenka claiming the title.  Radwanska looks the obvious choice from the bottom half to make the final although tiredness could be a factor.  I quite like Vinci's draw in the bottom half so she would be my dark horse tip if she can get past the in-form Safarova in R2.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

US Open 2013: Moo's Final Thoughts

Grand Slam action is over for 2013! Here is my concluding post to wrap up this year's US Open.  Enjoy...

The Champions:
Serena Williams
Serena Williams: A 5th US Open title and 17th Grand Slam title marked another superb week for the world number one.  Progression through to the final was smooth, but the final was anything but as she fought for 2 hours and 45 minutes to defeat Victoria Azarenka in a captivating and thrilling finale.  Serena wasted a 4-1 second set lead and 2 chances at serving for the title, but showed great resolve to stay in the zone and come through the third set, 7-5 6-7 6-1.

Rafael Nadal: Another superb week for Rafa saw him claim a 2nd US Open title with a 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory over Novak Djokovic in the final.  There were a few hairy moments, but the Spaniard came through for his 22nd consecutive hard court win of the year.  This is the 5th tournament in 2013 where Serena and Nadal have doubled up and Rafa, with no points to defend until the end of the year, is just 120 points behind Djokovic and should overtake him very, very soon.  It was another tough loss for Djokovic, but Nadal is, hands down, the best player in the world right now.

The pleasant surprises...
Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet: One of the highlights of this year's US Open was watching 2 of the ATP's eternal underachievers prove all the critics wrong.  Gasquet has long been regarded as not having the bottle to match up to his talent, but he showed a lot of heart and fight this week to post 5 set wins over Milos Raonic and David Ferrer.  A 1-15 record in 4th round Grand Slam matches was a thick cloud hovering over him, but he showed immense character to save a match point against Raonic and come through in 5.  When he goes for his backhand it is a magical shot; however his persistence in staying miles behind the baseline is something that will could prevent him from consistently replicating this week's results.

Stanislas Wawrinka: A first Grand Slam semi-final and wins over Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray capped a terrific tournament for Wawrinka.  Once again, he pushed Djokovic all the way in an entertaining 5 setter, but just like Australia, he was unable to convert on a set and a break lead and break into a first Grand Slam final.  I really like watching Wawrinka's game and his use of the F-bomb twice (in the post-match interview and press) was classic.  The tennis world needs more Stanley...
Flavia Pennetta: There must be something in the water at Flushing Meadows because Pennetta has reached 4 Grand Slam quarter-finals and all 4 have been at the US Open.  This year she went one better making the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career at the age of 31.  She recorded hugely impressive wins over Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Simona Halep.  The win over Kuznetsova highlighted a rather forgotten stat that Pennetta had never beaten Kuznetsova in 5 previous matches.  In addition, beating the in-form and widely-tipped-to-be-semi-finalist, Halep was also a real turn up for the book and a credit to Flavia's high level throughout this tournament.

Dan Evans: Progressing through 3 qualifying matches to make a first ever Grand Slam main draw would have been a good tournament for Evans, but defeating Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic was a real coming of age on the tennis court.  I am really intrigued to see where Evans goes from here.  I expect him to dip back into the Challenger events, but if he can show the commitment that he has done throughout the summer then he really should be knocking on the door of the top 100 and much higher.

Alison Riske
Alison Riske: Riske is a name that normally just crops up during the grass court season, but it is a pleasant surprise to see her translate that excellent form onto the hard courts.  Riske first made a name for herself in 2010 when she reached the semi-finals of Birmingham.  After slipping off the radar for a few years, she produced a series of fine performances at Birmingham this year, which included a victory over  Wimbledon finalist, Sabine Lisicki.  She earnt herself a wildcard into Wimbledon and took full advantage of that by reaching the third round with her first ever wins at a Grand Slam.  A stunning last 16 showing at Flushing Meadows demonstrates that Alison is still on the way up and a thumping win against an albeit ailing, Petra Kvitova was very impressive.

Ekaterina Makarova: Makarova's talent has never been doubted with wins over 4 of the current top 5, but it has been her consistency which has let her down and prevented her from really breaking through on the tour.  The US Open was her best tournament of the year as she nailed straight set wins over Sabine Lisicki and Agnieszka Radwanska, and then put up an admirable fight in the quarter-finals, going down in 3 sets to Li Na.  In her two previous Grand Slam quarter-finals, she lost tamely to Maria Sharapova in Australia, but this time round she gave it a right old go.  Definitely a player to keep an eye on in the next year...

The disappointments...
Del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro: After watching that tremendous Wimbledon semi-final against Novak Djokovic, I was convinced Del Potro was going to do wonders at this year's US Open, but things just didn't work out.  He was solid throughout the US hard court season, but a gruelling first rounder with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez set the tone as he was defeated by the plucky, Lleyton Hewitt in 5 sets.  I am really concerned about that wrist.  Rest up DelPo, the ATP tour NEEDS YOU!

Roger Federer: The first three rounds were an utter breeze and that is what I expected when Federer stepped up against Tommy Robredo in the 4th round.  In the biggest shock of the tournament, Fed fell in straight sets against a player he had beaten 10 consecutive times.  It has been a real bad year for Federer and his position at the World Tour Finals (currently clinging at No.7) is still in question.  Federer has lost his air of invincibility and with losses to Stakhovsky, Delbonis and Robredo in the last 3 months, everyone believes they can grab a slice of the action.

Fabio Fognini: Rajeev Ram d. Fabio Fognini, 6-1 6-2 6-2... enough said.

Caroline Wozniacki: It was a dream draw for Wozniacki, but once again, she just could not deliver and take advantage of it.  This is no disrespect to Camila Giorgi, who played a terrific 3rd round match to beat Wozniacki in 3 sets, but based on the credentials of a former world number one, it is a match you would expect her to win.  I really cannot see Wozniacki ever sorting her game out.  She seems to be stuck in a funk between defence and attack.  Everytime she tries to step it up she is essentially moving away from what defines her as a player and her major strength, which is of course her defence, movement and ability to soak up pace.  It's a tough one...

Sara Errani
Sara Errani: Coming in as the number 4 seed seemed too much to handle for Sara Errani, who fell away in straight sets to Flavia Pennetta in the second round.  It sounded like she crumbled in her post-match conference, which is a shame because she has been really fantastic this year.  I am not one of Sara's biggest fans, but you have to applaud her efforts in rising the rankings with, let's face it, a very poor serve.  Keep your head up, Sara.

Sam Stosur: I really thought Stosur was going to have a great US Open, a place she has enjoyed her greatest successes in the last two years.  2013 was not to be as she fell to the bubbly and very promising American talent of Victoria Duval.  Stosur split with long-term coach, David Taylor just before the tournament began and things look uncertain for Sammy right now.

Storylines and Tidbits:
US Open scheduling: It seemed to me that the scheduling at the US Open received just as many headlines as the actual tennis.  My first gripe was the mens 1st round matches being played over 3 days, which produced a distinct lack of consistency across the mens and womens draw because at one point of the tournament, some women were already in the 3rd round before some men had even taken to the court.  Whenever there was rain and the matches started to build up, the schedulers almost always made a terrible decision.  Delaying Azarenka-Ivanovic on Monday, but playing all the mens 4th round matches, which was already operating behind the womens draw, was puzzling to say the least.

The breadstick bagel show on Ashe: This year saw a huge amount of one-sided matches on the Arthur Ashe stadium.  This is a normal tradition for the first few days as the big names take up the schedule, but it was a continuing theme into the quarter-finals.  In total there were 50 singles matches on the Ashe with 35 straight sets matches (70%) and 15 bagel sets served up. 

The outfits: I don't normally wade into the debate on attire, but what was going on at this tournament?! From Wozniacki's outfit, which looked like she had a huge pair of underpants attached to the front of her dress, to poor old Azarenka whose outfit produced some incredibly unflattering sweat patterns of bats... even Federer's night gear was rather puzzling! Womens Tennis Blog always does a very solid recap of Grand Slam attire on the womens side, which you can view HERE.  Beyond the Baseline also picked out some of the duds on the mens side too HERE

James Blake retires: A super career for the American, who polished off some really solid wins this year over Jerzy Janowicz and Julien Benneteau at the age of 33 .  He wasn't a player I followed that closely, but he had some well documented injury horrors and it is always sad to see a player finally hang up their tennis shoes.  Also, a shout out to Jill Craybas, who retired much more quietly at the US Open in doubles action.

Francesca Schiavone needs a hug: This is what playing Serena Williams can do to you...

Richard Gasquet and his socks: One of the stranger moments of the tournament where Gasquet decided to fling his socks into the middle of the court after losing the first set of his 4th round match to Milos Raonic... odd.

Stan Wawrinka drops the F-bomb twice: You gotta love Stan.  Not only did he call Djokovic, "f****** strong" in his post-match interview, but then swore again in his press match conference after struggling with cramp.

Classic Roddick: I saw this video posted over on The Changeover.  Start watching at 1:15...

Moo's favourite matches of the week: 
When I look at the small handful of good matches at this year's US Open matches I realised that I seemed to miss most of them.  Here are my favourite ones anyway...

WTA - S.Williams d. V.Azarenka, 7-5 6-7(6) 6-1 (F)
There is absolutely no doubt that this rivalry has the potential to keep people glued to the WTA tour.  It was another fantastic match between Serena and Vika, which had bundles of high quality and drama.  They have played each other 4 times this year and 3 of their matches have gone the distance and all been very entertaining matches.  I cannot wait to see them match-up again, hopefully this year.

Highlights from Serena-Vika

WTA - C.Suarez Navarro d. A.Kerber, 4-6 6-3 7-6(2) (R4)
A really keenly contested match that deserves a mention for one of the best match celebrations from the whole year.  Not the best quality, but a gripping affair that got sidelined by Serena-Sloane's match playing at the same time.

Highlights from the 3rd set tiebreak

ATP -  R.Gasquet d. D.Ferrer, 6-3 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-3 (QF)
A match featuring Gasquet deliver his best tennis (in pulses) on the big stage was a lot of fun to watch.  Gasquet's backhand was at times, truly majestic.

Highlights from Gasquet-Ferrer

ATP - N.Djokovic d. S.Wawrinka, 2-6 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 6-4 (SF)
I feel that that the quality of this match has been over-hyped by many in the press; however it definitely deserve a mention for including one of the longest and most intense games you are likely to see all year.

Highlights from THAT game in the Djokovic-Wawrinka SF

Special mentions also to V.Williams v Zheng (R2), Kerber v Bouchard (R2), Gasquet v Raonic (R4), Isner v Monfils (R2) and of course, Djokovic v Nadal (F) which were all matches I didn't watch, but would probably feature above.

Moo's Predictions:
Champions: I went for a risk on the ladies side and it didn't pay off this time.  Most went with Serena but I really felt Azarenka could do it this year and she came pretty close.  On the mens side, I went with Nadal from the start.  Although there was nothing special in the rest of my original predictions, I did correctly predict the winner and number of sets of both semi-finals and final in my daily previews.

Quarter-Finalists:  This was certainly one of my weaker tournaments although there were plenty of upsets that were difficult to predict.  In the womens, I was just 2/8, which was by far and away my weakest Grand Slam of 2013.  For the men, I was only marginally better at 3/8.

Moo's overall feelings of the US Open:
The 2013 US Open was a strange one.  Both finals were excellent, but it was easily the weakest Slam for quite sometime.  A hell of a lot of one-sided matches, a small handful of quality contests and few gripping headlines to get excited about.  I am not sure if it just me being me, but I thought it was a really flat tournament.  Anyway this is a fitting video (originally posted on Beyond the Baseline) to wrap up the two weeks...

I am taking a few weeks off from the blog as I am away on holiday in Switzerland.  I certainly need a bit of time away from the blog to recharge the batteries.  I will be back for regular blogging duties from the week beginning the 22th of September with previews for the WTA event in Tokyo, Japan.  The season is slowly wrapping up, but I have lots planned for the off-season.  Laters...

Did you enjoy the US Open this year? Please leave your comments :-)