Sunday, 19 February 2012

WTA Dubai Preview

Victoria Azarenka
The women move from Doha to Dubai this week to contest the Dubai Duty Free Championships.  The draw has been downgraded this year from 56 players to 28 as Doha and Dubai have swapped over in the calendar.  To be honest, I completely lost interest in the Doha tournament which featured few entertaining matches and lacked excitement particularly in the latter stages.  The only noteworthy point was the performance of Victoria Azarenka, who was in sparkling form in her first tournament as world number one as she won her 17th match in a row with a 6-1 6-2 rout of Sam Stosur in the final.  Azarenka headlines the draw once again although do not be surprised if she was to pull out following the injury she picked up in Doha.  She is joined by Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Stosur as the top four seeds, who have all been handed byes into the second round.

The draw is particularly strong this week and is likely to be bolstered with a promising line-up of qualifiers - in fact the qualifying draw would not have looked out of place for a main draw at an international event.  The number one seed Azarenka will play the winner of Julia Goerges and Svetlana Kuznetsova in round two.  I'm backing Kuznetsova to reach the quarter-finals with good head-to-head records over both Goerges and Azarenka (although as mentioned above, I doubt Vika will turn up!).  In the top section of the draw, I would also watch out for Daniela Hantuchova.  She will play a qualifier in the first round and then the winner of Marion Bartoli and Peng Shuai.  Bartoli has had an exhausting schedule over the past two weeks in Paris and Doha, and Peng has been battling with long-term injury problems so I do not anticipate either to provide any resistance for Hantuchova.

Sabine Lisicki
There are a number of interesting first round matches to watch out for and none more so than Agnieszka Radwanska against Sabine Lisicki.  Radwanska has made a solid start to 2012, meanwhile Lisicki has been up and down so far including a disappointing performance in her last match against Angelique Kerber in Doha.  Lisicki won their previous encounter in Stanford and despite not showing her best form this year, I think the German player will spring an upset in Dubai.  The winner of this match is likely to meet the number 2 seed, Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals.  Kvitova skipped Doha through injury but I think she will do some damage this week in Dubai.

Another highlight in the first round is the match-up between Ana Ivanovic and Francesca Schiavone; neither played particularly well in Doha, but Schiavone's form has been very poor in 2012 so this is a great chance for Ivanovic to make some progress in Dubai.   I predict that both Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Stosur will make the semi-finals.  Wozniacki will look to rediscover her form after she was ousted in her first match in Doha by Lucie Safarova.  The Dane will play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or a qualifier in the second round of Dubai.

Final prediction - Petra Kvitova d. Daniela Hantuchova
This week I am going for Petra Kvitova to claim her first title of the season.  She has the capability to beat anyone in this draw and I think she will shake off the early rust in her first few matches to storm to the title win.  I think her final opponent will be Daniela Hantuchova.  Hantuchova has a great draw this week, particularly if Azarenka does not turn up.  It has been a very promising start to 2012 for Hantuchova who retained her title in Pattaya City two weeks ago.  Last week's first round loss to Simona Halep in Doha was just a minor blip and I don't think she was 100% for Doha having won five matches in Pattaya City the previous week.

Don't forget... there are a trio of tournaments this week with International events in Memphis and Monterrey too! In Memphis, Nadia Petrova and Ksenia Pervak headline the field, which also sees Elena Baltacha and Heather Watson in action.  I fancy Varvara Lepchenko, who has picked up some promising wins in the last few weeks, to go all the way and win the title.  Roberta Vinci headlines the field in Monterrey and looks to be a safe bet to go deep in the tournament.  The number three seed, Sorana Cirstea would be my bet for the title...


  1. It is really a wonderful blog. I have been reading it everyday for several months. I thought you are an old tennis fan while today I just realized you are actually a student, which I really admire. To me, it is better if you can add more predictions for everyday's matches, such as Kirilenko vs Niculescu, Garrigues vs Pennetta(-3.5)...

  2. Many thanks for your kind comments :-) It means alot that you are reading and enjoying my blog! I will try and put some more predictions in my future posts.