Thursday, 19 January 2012

Kvitova survives Suarez Navarro scare in Australia

Petra Kvitova was among the second round winners on day 4 of the Australian Open, but she was pushed all the way by the talented Carla Suarez Navarro in a 6-2 2-6 6-4 victory.  Kvitova had one of her mental lapses during the second set, which carried into the third set with Suarez Navarro taking a 2-0 lead.  Kvitova managed to turn her game around and get the forehand working again to advance to the next round.  Although this was an extremely patchy performance from Kvitova, she found a way to win when not playing at best.  This is the sort of match she would have lost about a year or two ago but she is growing in experience on the tour.  In the first week of a Grand Slam, all you have to do is get through it and with Kvitova, I don't think it matters how ugly it is! I would not be surprised at all if she turned the style on in the next round where she will play Maria Kirilenko in the next round.  It will be a stern test, but one I would expect her to ease past.  In the video below, you can see the quality of Kvitova's opponent... the one-handed backhand from Suarez Navarro is simply a delight to watch!

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova had no such problems in their second round matches; Serena fended off a late charge from Barbara Zahlavova Strycova to win 6-0 6-4 and Maria Sharapova crushed Jamie Hampton, 6-0 6-1.  I originally said that Sharapova was not a threat having had little match practice and I am now looking incredibly foolish! Admittedly she has not been tested and I haven't watched her play yet but losing just two games in two rounds (the same as Azarenka) is mightily impressive.  Sharapova will no doubt have a tougher match in the third round against Angelique Kerber.  Serena will play Greta Arn, who produced a battling performance to beat Dominika Cibulkova, 6-2 3-6 10-8 in the first real epic length women's match so far.  Cibulkova served for the match at 7-6, but was unable to close it out.

Maria Sharapova looks in surprisingly good form at the Australian Open... I originally predicted Kerber to beat her in the third round :-S

Cibulkova wasn't the only seed to fall on day 4.  The most surprising was the departure of Kaia Kanepi, who lost to Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2 7-5.  I had tipped Kanepi to get to the semi-finals and must admit that I got caught up on the Kanepi bandwagon after she won in Brisbane.  Three other seeds fell on day 4; Nadia Petrova was outplayed by a tenacious Sara Errani, 6-2 6-2, Roberta Vinci was ousted, as expected by Zheng Jie, 6-4 6-2 and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova lost once more to Vania King, 5-7 6-3 6-4.  I thought this would be a good year for Pav and had hoped she would have worked hard in the off-season on her fitness and her serve, but it does not look like this happened at all! She really needs to sort out the coaching aspect of her game and get something solid going on behind the scenes to help her progression, because I strongly believe she is a big talent.

Nadia Petrova had a bad day at the office as she needed treatment for a lower back injury and also stumbled and fell during the warm-up
In other matches, Sabine Lisicki, who many had thought may be prone to an upset produced her best performance in a long while to dismiss Shahar Peer, 6-1 6-2.  Ana Ivanovic also impressed with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Michaela Krajicek.  The Serb has yet to be broken in her first two matches and looks to be playing her way into some good form.  There were also wins for Vera Zvonareva, Marion Bartoli and Sorana Cirstea, who backed up her win over Stosur with a tough 1-6 6-2 6-3 victory over Urszula Radwanska.

Round three gets underway tomorrow and we have some exciting clashes ahead.  Here are my predictions for the eight women's matches that will take place tomorrow...
Caroline Wozniacki to beat Monica Niculescu in 2 sets - This could be an ugly slugfest, but I am still intrigued to watch!
Jelena Jankovic to beat Christina McHale in 3 sets - A great match in prospect... McHale was thumped by JJ last time they played in Charleston, but I fancy the American to cause a minor scare here.
Julia Goerges
Kim Clijsters to beat Daniela Hantuchova in 2 sets - I think the first set will be tight, but a fully fit Clijsters is no match for Hantuchova.
Li Na to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues in 2 sets - Li has looked in good form in the first two rounds so I do not see an upset here.
Victoria Azarenka to beat Mona Barthel in 2 sets - This will be an interesting match and one i'm planning to stay up for! I think Barthel will push Azarenka hard, but the Belarusian will win in two tight sets.
Iveta Benesova to beat Nina Bratchikova in 3 sets - Two unseeded players have a great chance of reaching the fourth round here and I think it will be Benesova that will prevail.
Julia Goerges to beat Romina Oprandi in 2 sets - Goerges hasn't been tested yet, but if she can keep her head screwed on this should be relatively straightforward.
Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Galina Voskoboeva in 3 sets - Voskoboeva has a lot of power so I anticipate her to get a set off Radwanska, but the Pole's consistency once again will be too much.

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