Sunday, 5 February 2012

WTA Paris Preview

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova headlines a strong line-up for the Premier event in Paris this week.  There were some fabulous matches in this tournament last year where Petra Kvitova beat Kim Clijsters in the final.  The top two seeds, Sharapova and Marion Bartoli have byes into the second round.  Sharapova is projected to meet the number 5 seed, Sabine Lisicki in the quarter-finals who she defeated in a gruelling 4th round match at the Australian Open.  Lisicki will face Lucie Safarova in the first round, which will be a battle between two players who have a tendency to blow hot and cold.  Bartoli is scheduled to meet the number 7 seed Roberta Vinci in the quarter-finals; however the most dangerous player in this section of the draw to Bartoli is likely to be Angelique Kerber who plays a qualifier in round one and could meet Vinci in the 2nd round.

The number three seed, Li Na will open up her campaign against Tsvetana Pironkova.  Li will look to put the devastating 4th round Australian Open loss to Kim Clijsters behind her.  Li is positioned in a relatively straightforward section of the draw and is projected to meet Julia Goerges in the quarter-finals.  Goerges reached the 4th round of a Grand Slam for the first time in Australia and put up a brave fight in the Fed Cup where she eventually went down to the world number two Petra Kvitova, 10-8 in the third.  Goerges will play Shahar Peer in the first round, who she beat in their only previous encounter last year in Charlestion.  

The final section of the draw to discuss plays host to several exciting first round matches; the number 4 seed Jelena Jankovic has a tough opener against Yanina Wickmayer.  Jankovic and Wickmayer were supposed to play each other in Fed Cup action today but JJ pulled out with an injury so it will be interesting to see if she plays here.  The winner will play Kaia Kanepi or Christina McHale who face off in the first round too.  Kanepi was a letdown at the Australian Open but I think she will rediscover some good form in Paris where she reached the semi-finals last year.

Marion Bartoli
My tip for the week
Marion Bartoli def. Kaia Kanepi - This is a tough one to call this week... I don't fancy Sharapova to be 100% after a punishing schedule over the last couple of weeks.  I don't trust Li to do the business, Jankovic has an injury and Lisicki has a tough draw.  Instead, i'm going for the home favourite Marion Bartoli to triumph.  She was disappointing in Australia, but I think she will be refreshed after a long break and take advantage of the good draw she has been handed.

Watch out for...
Lucie Safarova and Julia Goerges who I think will both reach the semi-finals in a number of surprises this week.  As mentioned above, Safarova is an inconsistent player; she made the quarter-finals in Sydney beating Ana Ivanovic along the way, but then lost in the first round of the Australian Open.  Safarova always seems to thrive as the underdog, which she will be in her first round match to Sabine Lisicki.  I normally go against Goerges, but she has shown some positive signs at the start of 2012 and I fancy her to beat Li Na in the quarter-finals.

Unfortuately I do not have time to do a preview for Pattaya City where Vera Zvonareva and Dominika Cibulkova are the top two seeds.  I will try and do some short reviews from both Paris and Pattaya City in the coming week...

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