Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Peng advances past hobbling Bartoli in Dubai

Peng Shuai
Peng Shuai had her most significant scalp of the year so far as she beat Marion Bartoli, 6-4 6-3 in the first round of Dubai.  Peng has had a disappointing start to 2012 having failed to advance past the second round in any of her tournaments this year; however she displayed some of her impressive 2011 form in her match today recovering from 3-0 deficits in both sets.  In truth, Bartoli was severely hampered by the same injury that forced her to retire in her semi-final match with Sam Stosur in Doha, but surprisingly she fought on.  She limped heavily between points in the second set, which initially seemed to affect Peng before she got her head in check and got Bartoli on the move.  

Peng will play Daniela Hantuchova in the second round as she came back from a terrible first set to beat the lucky loser, Polona Hercog, 1-6 7-5 7-6.  Agnieszka Radwanska also had a major scare as she sneaked past Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-1 6-7 7-5.  Wozniak had held serve comfortably throughout the final set but she faltered when given the chance to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third set. 

In other matches, Ana Ivanovic wasted 18 break points, but was too strong against an out-of-form Francesca Schiavone, 6-1 7-5.  Another player struggling for form is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was ousted by the qualifier, Simona Halep.  Pavlyuchenkova struggled with her serve winning 50% of first serve points and just 24% of second serve points in a 6-4 6-2 loss.  Lucie Safarova and Iveta Benesova also progressed into the second round where they will meet Sam Stosur and Sabine Lisicki respectively.

Tips for tomorrow's second round matches in Dubai: I anticipate straight set wins for Agnieszka Radwanska (over Shahar Peer), Daniela Hantuchova (over Peng Shuai) and Ana Ivanovic (over Maria Kirilenko, who pulled out of her Doubles match today with injury).  I also predict that Flavia Pennetta will beat Jelena Jankovic in 3 sets, Sam Stosur will be pushed hard by Lucie Safarova but survive for the quarter-finals, and that Iveta Benesova has a great chance of upsetting Sabine Lisicki, who she beat in Fed Cup action a few weeks ago in Stuttgart.  I am intrigued by the final match of the day between Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep; I fancy three sets and a potential upset for the in-form Romanian...

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