Saturday, 30 June 2012

Wimbledon Predictions Updated!

Another epic day at Wimbledon has seen the majority of 3rd round matches wrapped up with the only one to play out between Andy Murray and Marcos Baghdatis (currently one set all).  I had two great results today with my 4th round predictions of Yaroslava Shvedova and Brian Baker both making it to the second week.  Shvedova in fact scored a golden set winning 24 points in a row against Sara Errani... watch out Serena! Serena herself had an epic match winning 9-7 in the third set against Zheng Jie, meanwhile Marin Cilic edged Sam Querrey in an even longer marathon, 17-15 in the fifth set.

Shvedova's golden set, which was the first in the Open era!




Friday, 29 June 2012

Wimbledon: 3rd Round Predictions for Day 6

The Top 4 on Day 6
Andy Roddick
1. David Ferrer v Andy Roddick
The third section of the mens draw is littered with exciting matches but I have gone for the one between Ferrer and Roddick as my top pick.  Ferrer has never had his best results at Wimbledon, but he has been largely untroubled on his way to the third round with wins over Dustin Brown and Kenny De Schepper.  Roddick, who won the tournament in Eastbourne, was pushed hard by Brit, Jamie Baker in his first round match but has progressed through to the 3rd round for the loss of no sets.  Ferrer leads the head-to head by 6 wins to 4 including a three set win in their last match in Shanghai at the end of last year.  This will be a first encounter on the grass between the two and I have a sneaky feeling that Roddick will nick this one...
Prediction - Roddick to beat Ferrer in 4 sets

2. Andy Murray v Marcos Baghdatis
I did originally have Raonic against Cilic in this position but when Milos Raonic was beaten by Sam Querrey I had to do a tactical reshuffle! Andy Murray begins his tricky descent into the depths of the draw with a third round tie against Marcos Baghdatis.  There has been much talk that his chances have dramatically improved with Rafael Nadal's loss last night, but he still has an extremely tricky draw to contend with and needs to take it one match at a time.  Baghdatis will no doubt be a stiff test, but the best I can see him doing is grabbing a set off Murray.
Prediction - Murray to beat Baghdatis in 4 sets

3. Ana Ivanovic v Julia Goerges
In one of just two seeded match-ups in the bottom half of the womens draw, the most attractive match sees Ivanovic take on Goerges!  Neither had inspired much hope before the tournament began with Ivanovic pulling out of Eastbourne and Goerges opting to play no warm-up tournaments on the grass; however both have done well to make the third round with Ivanovic losing one set in her opener to Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Goerges winning both her matches in straight sets.  I was actually in the stands for their last match, which took place at Eastbourne last year where Ivanovic prevailed in straight sets.  I still don't fancy either to reach the quarter-finals, but Ivanovic would be my tip to win this match.
Prediction - Ivanovic to beat Goerges in 2 very tight sets

4. Serena Williams v Zheng Jie
Serena Williams recorded a comfortable second round win over Melinda Czink and is slowly gathering pace at this year's Wimbledon Championships.  She now takes on the tenacious, Zheng Jie who defeated Aleksandra Wozniak in straight sets yesterday.  Zheng is a superb competitor and is particularly dangerous on the grass with her flat groundstrokes.  The  last time they played on the grass was in the 2008 Wimbledon semi-finals where Serena prevailed, 6-1 7-6.  I think the difference in this match will be the serve and ultimately, I think Serena will progress in straight sets.
Prediction - Serena to beat Zheng in 2 sets

Best of the rest: women
Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova will play Varvara Lepchenko, who took out Nastia Pavlyuchenkova in the last round.  The two last faced off in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros where Kvitova prevailed 6-2 6-2.  I expect plain sailing once more for Kvitova and for Victoria Azarenka too who has been handed an official cakewalk of a draw to this stage; she now takes on Jana Cepelova in the third round.  Two of the French Open's biggest success stories, Sara Errani and Yaroslava Shvedova will do battle, as will Francesca Schiavone and Klara Zakopalova in what should be a very tight match.  The Austrian, Tamira Paszek backed up her win over Caroline Wozniacki with a 6-2 6-1 win over Alize Cornet and takes on Yanina Wickmayer tomorrow.

WTA Predictions
Shvedova to beat Errani in 3 sets
Zakopalova to beat Schiavone in 3 sets
Kvitova to beat Lepchenko in 2 sets
Paszek to beat Wickmayer in 2 sets
Vinci to beat Lucic in 3 sets
Azarenka to beat Cepelova in 2 sets

Best of the rest: mens
Juan Martin Del Potro
Juan Martin Del Potro will have the tricky task of playing Kei Nishikori, who has made an impressive return from injury, meanwhile the Queens Champion Marin Cilic will look to avoid the fate of Milos Raonic against Sam Querrey.  All eyes will be on Nadal's conqueror Lukas Rosol and whether he can keep the wins coming against Philipp Kohlschreiber... and finally keep an eye on the match between Mardy Fish and David Goffin.  Fish has made his comeback this week following heart problems and squeaked past James Ward in five sets, meanwhile the ever-rising Goffin, who beat Bernard Tomic in the 1st round, will look to make it back-to-back 4th round appearances at the Grand Slams.

ATP Predictions
Del Potro to beat Nishikori in 4 sets
Cilic to beat Querrey in 5 sets
Tsonga to beat Lacko in 3 sets
Goffin to beat Fish in 5 sets
Baker to beat Paire in 4 sets
Kohlschreiber to beat Rosol in 4 sets

You can view my original ATP and WTA predictions for Wimbledon; my mens champion is gone but things are still looking OK in the womens (for now!!!)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Lukas Rosol beats Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon

Lukas Rosol at Eastbourne
Just a very quick post in response to Lukas Rosol's INCREDIBLE five set victory over Rafael Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon! An amazing performance from Rosol with fearless hitting and ace-after-ace to completely stun Nadal in that final set under the lights.  There goes my mens champion ;-) 

This has serious implications for the draw and is certain to bump up the pressure on Andy Murray; however he has an extremely tough draw before even reaches the semi-finals and he will need to just focus on one match at a time.  

I must give credit to Nadal signing autographs at the end of the match.  After a loss like this, that was pretty awesome to see.  You could see in Rosol's post-match interview he was just totally flabbergasted at what had happened.  What can he do now? So often the giant killers have been unable to back it up.  He plays Phillipp Kohlschreiber in the third round, who beat Nadal at Halle... a battle of the Rafa slayers!

Wimbledon: 3rd Round Predictions for Day 5

The Top 4 on Day 5
Heather Watson
1. Agnieszka Radwanska v Heather Watson
From a British angle, this is my number one match on Friday as the young Brit, Heather Watson takes on the world number three, Agnieszka Radwanska.  Watson is the first British woman to make the third round at Wimbledon in ten years and has played some excellent tennis up to this stage; even better is that she is doing it with a smile on her face and you cannot help but warm to her.  Radwanska enjoyed a routine second round win over Elena Vesnina and her draw has opened up dramatically paving the way for a potential first ever Grand Slam semi-final.  Watson will be no walkover, but Radwanska has a way of drawing errors from her opponent and has more experience at this stage of a Grand Slam...
Prediction - Radwanska to beat Watson in 2 sets

2. Nicolas Almagro v Richard Gasquet
The most intriguing 3rd round mens match will be a battle of the one-handed backhands between Nicolas Almagro and Richard Gasquet.  The Frenchman has sailed through his first two rounds for the loss of no sets, meanwhile Almagro has surrendered three sets so far and most notably coming from two sets down in his opener with Olivier Rochus.  Almagro has been improving on all surfaces and will be no pushover in this encounter although I give the edge to Gasquet if he can hold his nerve.
Prediction - Gasquet to beat Almagro in 4 tight sets

3. Vera Zvonareva v Kim Clijsters
Two players who have suffered injury-plagued 2012's will square off in a rematch of the 2010 Wimbledon quarter-final.  Kim Clijsters has looked fighting fit so far with no signs that she has been hampered by an abdominal injury that forced her to pull out of her semi-final in s'Hertogenbosch last week.  Zvonareva too has played little tennis this year, but she has done remarkably well in reaching the third round with three set wins over Mona Barthel and Silvia Soler Espinosa.  Zvonareva has won three of the last five encounters with Clijsters including that 2010 Wimbledon quarter-finalist; however her level has dropped considerably from when she reached a peak of world number two so I think this will be plain sailing for Kimmy...
Prediction - Clijsters to beat Zvonareva in 2 sets

4. Roger Federer v Julien Benneteau
Roger Federer has looked in majestic form so far and has never looked more at home on his favourite surface.  His opponent will be a big step up from the last round in the big serving, Julien Benneteau.  Benneteau beat Michael Russell in 4 sets in his second round match and has the weapons to at least test Federer.  I fancy a tight first set, but Federer to stroll through the last two and into the 4th round...
Prediction - Federer to beat Benneteau in 3 sets

Best of the rest: Womens
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova faces another in-form opponent in Hsieh Su-Wei although it should be a comparatively easier match compared to her second round match with Tsvetana Pironkova.  She saved five set points in the first set and then had a serving meltdown in the second set tiebreak before storming through the final set to win, 7-6 6-7 6-0.  A big test like this early on is only going to make Sharapova stronger in this tournament...

The two other matches in the first quarter are both ones to watch out for with Sloane Stephens playing Sabine Lisicki, and Angelique Kerber taking on Christina McHale.  Lisicki won an epic three setter against Bojana Jovanovski, 8-6 in the third and faces an even bigger challenge in Stephens who had a tough three set win over Petra Cetkovska in the last round.  McHale and Kerber's last match went the distance with Kerber saving match points so I expect another close one there.

WTA Predictions
Sharapova to beat Hsieh in 2 sets
Stephens to beat Lisicki in 3 sets
Kerber to beat McHale in 3 sets
Petrova to beat Giorgi in 2 tight sets
Cirstea to beat Kirilenko in 3 sets
Rus to beat Peng in 2 sets

Best of the rest: Mens
The top half of the mens draw looks considerably less appealing compared to the bottom half providing a slight headache for the schedulers; on Wednesday they even put two womens matches on number one court! The match between Mikhail Youzhny and Janko Tipsarevic should at least be entertaining with both having explosive games; I fancy a potential upset in that one.

The world number one, Novak Djokovic was in impressive form in his second round win over Ryan Harrison and should be untroubled by Radek Stepanek in the third round.  Xavier Malisse who upset Giles Simon today has the ammunition to continue the upsets as he plays Fernando Verdasco in the third round.

ATP Predictions
Djokovic to beat Stepanek in 3 sets
Monaco to beat Troicki in 4 sets
Mayer to beat Janowicz in 4 sets
Malisse to beat Verdasco in 5 sets
Istomin to beat Falla in 4 sets
Youzhny to beat Tipsarevic in 5 sets

You can view my original predictions for the mens and womens draw, which have both taken some big hits! I nearly lost two of my womens semi-finalists, but Petrova hung in to beat Timea Babos 9-7 in the third set and avoided the same fate of Marion Bartoli who lost 6-4 6-2 to Mirjana Lucic.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Tamira Paszek saves match points to defeat Wozniacki in Wimbledon thriller

Caroline Wozniacki out of Wimbledon
The best match of the tournament so far saw the Eastbourne champion, Tamira Paszek continue her dazzling form as she saved two match points to beat Caroline Wozniacki, 5-7 7-6 6-4.  It was a complete rollercoaster of a match with Paszek missing four set points in the opener, but then fighting off two match points in the second set with some fearless hitting.  It is the second match in a row that Paszek has saved match points having dodged five against Angelique Kerber in Eastbourne.  If she has anything left in the tank, her heart and fight will take her a long way in this tournament.

In other matches, Maria Sharapova saved five set points to claim the first set over Tsvetana Pironkova with play suspended at 7-6 3-1.  I was completely absorbed in the match and would say it ranked as one of the best sets of womens tennis I have watched all year.  Pironkova came out playing perfect tennis, but Sharapova's fighting spirit is just immense and she managed to turn it around with the highlight being an incredible angled backhand to break back at 3-5 down.

There were plenty of upsets with Sam Stosur, Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova all knocked out on day 3.  Stosur lost to Arantxa Rus, 6-2 0-6 6-4, meanwhile Li lost in straight sets to Sorana Cirstea who she had eased past at the French Open last month.  This completely opens up the second section of the womens draw with Maria Kirilenko the highest remaining seed (someone commented on my blog recently tipping Kirilenko to go far... might be a very good call there!).  Cibulkova lost 6-4 6-1 to the Eastbourne semi-finalist, Klara Zakopalova. Kim Clijsters, Agnieszka Radwanska and Heather Watson were straight set winners with the Brit producing another excellent performance to make her first ever third round of a Grand Slam with a 6-1 6-4 win over Jamie Hampton.

Highlights from Wozniacki/Paszek

Wimbledon: 2nd Round Predictions for Day 4

The Top 4 on Day 4
Grigor Dimitrov
1. Milos Raonic v Sam Querrey
The best matches tomorrow come on the mens side and most of them in the ultra-competitive third quarter.  I have picked out the encounter between Raonic and Querrey as my top match.  Querrey has been making his way back from injury and signalled his return to form with an impressive run to the semi-finals at Queens.  Raonic seems to have the perfect game for grass, but was cut down in his prime at this stage last year when he slipped and injured his hip, which practically wiped him out for much of the latter part of 2011.  It is a tough one for Raonic, but I still believe this could be his breakthrough tournament...
Prediction - Raonic to beat Querrey in 4 sets

2. Grigor Dimitrov v Marcos Baghdatis
Another intriguing match in the third quarters sees Dimitrov play Baghdatis.  Dimitrov is having a terrific grass court season having reached the semi-finals of Queens and defeating the seed, Kevin Anderson in the first round of Wimbledon.  Baghdatis has previously enjoyed great success at Wimbledon having made the quarter-finals in 2007 and pushing Novak Djokovic to 4 sets in an entertaining third rounder last year.  This will be an exciting match between two of the most interesting personalities on the ATP tour and I think it could come down to the wire...
Prediction - Dimitrov to beat Baghdatis in 5 sets

3. Rafael Nadal v Lukas Rosol
Nadal struggled in the first set of his opener against Thomasz Bellucci as he quickly fell 4-0 down, but as you would expect he managed to recover in time to nick the first set on a tiebreak and complete a straight sets win.  Lukas Rosol took out Ivan Dodig in the first round and he will be another test for Nadal.  Rosol is an up-and-coming player, who made the third round of Roland Garros last year having beaten Jurgen Melzer in an epic.  This year he has started to pick up more wins on the tour and looks to be an exciting prospect for the future.  Ultimately I expect Nadal to win in straight sets, but I think this will be an entertaining match to watch.
Prediction - Nadal to beat Rosol in 3 sets

4. Petra Kvitova v Elena Baltacha
In truth, there are not many matches from womens draw that have caught my eye for tomorrow so I have picked out one I will be watching purely from a British angle! Baltacha had a tough first round match and was fortunate to progress as her opponent, Karin Knapp was struggling with an injury.  Kvitova started nervously in her first round match against Akgul Amanmuradova but did very well to turn things round with some clinical serving at the end.  I can only see one outcome for this match, but I hope Baltacha can at least make it respectable.
Prediction - Kvitova to beat Baltacha in 2 sets

Best of the rest: womens
Zheng Jie
All the top seeds look to have routine matches on paper; Serena Williams takes on the hard hitting Hungarian Melinda Czink, meanwhile the number two seed Victoria Azarenka plays Romina OprandiMarion Bartoli's draw looks more open by the minute and she should be too consistent for former Wimbledon semi-finalist, Mirjana Lucic.  I have already mentioned one Brit, but Anne Keothavong also plays her second rounder tomorrow against the French Open finalist, Sara Errani.

Two matches to keep an eye on for tomorrow both come from the third quarter; Zheng Jie and Aleksandra Wozniak squared off in the second round of Roland Garros and once again they will do battle.  Wozniak won that match in straight sets but Zheng's superior grass court play should make this one a lot closer.  The ever-improving, Varvara Lepchenko will take on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in what should be another tight match.  Lepchenko made the 4th round of the French Open, but I am uncertain of her prospects on grass.  Pavlyuchenkova was very impressive in disposing of Sofia Arvidsson in the first round so I fancy her to enjoy another victory.

WTA Predictions:
S. Williams to beat Czink in 2 sets
Wozniak to beat Zheng in 3 sets
Errani to beat Keothavong in 3 sets
Pavlyuchenkova to beat Lepchenko in 2 sets
Paszek to beat Cornet in 3 sets

Best of the rest: mens
Andy Murray takes on the huge serving, Ivo Karlovic, meanwhile Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and David Ferrer squares up against Kenny De Schepper; all should be pretty routine wins for the top seeds.  The Brit, James Ward who won his first ever match at Wimbledon has earnt himself a second round tie with Mardy Fish, which is winnable if he can play to his ultimate level; unfortunately his inconsistency is likely to be his downfall.  The resurgent, Brian Baker takes on Jarkko Nieminen and has some real opportunities to progress deep into this draw with Feliciano Lopez falling yesterday.

ATP Predictions
Murray to beat Karlovic in 3 sets
Cilic to beat Kubot in 4 sets
Fish to beat Ward in 4 sets
Baker to beat Nieminen in 5 sets
Paire to beat Dolgopolov in 5 sets

You can view my original predictions for the WTA and ATP draw.  Today I had one of my best tips of the year as I correctly predicted Rus to beat Stosur in 3 sets... lets hope they keep coming this tournament!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Wimbledon Day 2: Schiavone beats battling Robson

Francesca Schiavone
This is just a quick note to say what a great day for the Brits with wins for Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong and James Ward! For so many years the media have ripped our British players to shreds for poor performances at Wimbledon so I hope there is much praise for them tomorrow.  Laura Robson did fall to Francesca Schiavone, but she put in a spirited performance; she wasted a set and a break lead but fought brilliantly to get back from 5-1 to 5-4 in the final set.  She saved a number of match points, one on an incredible point but unfortunately it was not to be.

Also what is with the organisers tonight? Wozniacki/Paszek was moved to Centre Court and they played four games when the rain arrived... they then decided to call an end to play, which to me was a baffling decision when there is a roof with lights, which would have easily allowed the match to finish. 

Wimbledon: 2nd Round Predictions for Day 3

The Top 3 on Day 3
Tsvetana Pironkova
1. Maria Sharapova v Tsvetana Pironkova
Sharapova faces a potentially tricky second round match against Pironkova.  The Bulgarian has had a largely ineffective year so far, but always comes alive for the grass court season.  She has made the semi-finals and quarter-finals at Wimbledon in the last two years and will certainly pose some questions to the world number one.  Pironkova struggled to get past Vesna Dolonc in the first round, meanwhile Sharapova made a confident start with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Anastasia Rodionova.  I think Pironkova will start well, but I fancy Sharapova to have enough power to blast through the tricky Bulgarian's game in straight sets.
Prediction - Sharapova to beat Pironkova in 2 sets

2. Ekaterina Makarova v Angelique Kerber
Kerber did extremely well to put the memories of the Eastbourne final (where she wasted five match points) behind her and claim a straight set win over Lucie Hradecka in round one.  She will now play the big serving, Ekaterina Makarova who eased past Alberta Brianti in the first round.  Kerber and Makarova last played in Eastbourne where Kerber won comfortably although Makarova had a terrible day at the office in that one.  This will be a tough match for the German, but she continues to shine in 2012 and I have faith in her to keep the wins coming
Prediction - Kerber to beat Makarova in 3 sets

3. Heather Watson v Jamie Hampton
Heather Watson was the first British woman to win on Centre Court since 1985 and she did it in style with some super serving and aggressive groundstrokes against Iveta Benesova.  The draw has now opened up for her because Jamie Hampton staged an upset in the first round by beating Daniela Hantuchova, who is struggling to pick up her form following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.  Hampton has an interesting game and is not afraid to throw in the slice and come into the net.  She will be a challenge for Watson, but I thinkthe Brit's exploits on the grass over the last couple of the weeks and the home crowd will get her into the 3rd round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.
Prediction - Watson to beat Hampton in 2 sets

Best of the Rest - Womens Draw
Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska will be breathing a sigh of relief that she will not have to take on Venus Williams in the second round although Elena Vesnina will be no walk in the park... upset anyone? I also think Sam Stosur will have to be at her best to avoid falling to Arantxa Rus tomorrow.  Li Na plays Sorana Cirstea who she thumped at Roland Garros, meanwhile Kim Clijsters takes on Andrea Hlavackova Sabine Lisicki will have her hands full with Bojana Jovanovski although if she has her head in check that should be a straightforward match.

In two interesting matches involving seeds, Petra Cetkovska will play Sloane Stephens and Nadia Petrova takes on Timea Babos.  Stephens enjoyed an easy first round win over Karolina Pliskova and has a great chance of an upset win over Cetkovska.  Babos has struggled for wins in recent months, but has a terrific game for the grass and showed that in a three set win over Melanie Oudin.  She now plays my dark horse tip in Nadia Petrova, who was on fire in her 6-0 6-2 first round win over Maria Camerin.

Rus to beat Stosur in 3 sets
Li to beat Cirstea in 2 sets
Lisicki to beat Jovanovski in 2 sets
Vesnina to beat Radwanska in 3 sets

Best of the Rest - Mens Draw
The best match on the mens side is probably the one at the top of the draw where Novak Djokovic plays the rising American, Ryan Harrison.  Harrison has the capability to get a set off Djokovic, but no more in my opinion.  Roger Federer takes on Fabio Fognini, meanwhile Janko Tipsarevic plays Ryan Sweeting in the second round.  Ernests Gulbis and Alejandro Falla will look to back up big first round wins tomorrow; Gulbis takes on Jerry Janowicz, which is a highly winnable match although anything is possible with Gulbis.  Falla will play Nicolas Mahut in what is a wide open section that also includes Denis Istomin and Igor Andreev; one of those four men will make the 4th round.

Djokovic to beat Harrison in 4 sets
Federer to beat Fognini in 3 sets
Tipsarevic to beat Sweeting in 3 sets
Simon to beat Malisse in 4 sets

Monday, 25 June 2012

Wimbledon: 1st Round Predictions for Day 2

Elena Vesnina
The biggest surprise on the first day of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships saw the number six seed, Tomas Berdych bundled out of the tournament by Ernests Gulbis, 7-6 7-6 7-6 in a terrific Centre Court match.  I questioned Berdych being put on Centre Court over Federer but massive credit to the schedulers for calling this one correctly.  John Isner was another surprise exit in the mens as he was beaten by Alejandro Falla, 6-4 6-7 3-6 7-6 7-5.  Falla, who nearly upstaged Roger Federer in the first match of Wimbledon in 2010, played a stunning match against a lacklustre Isner, who was many people's tip as a dark horse to reach the quarter-finals.

The womens saw the majority of the top seeds progress, but there was one surprise as an error-strewn Venus Williams was comprehensively beaten in round one by Elena Vesnina.  I really thought she would reach the second week, but it was not to be as Vesnina played a very solid match to set up a second round match with Agnieszka RadwanskaMaria Sharapova was broken serving for both sets against Anastasia Rodionova, but was ultimately untroubled in a 6-2 6-3 win.  There were also straight set wins for Sam Stosur, Li Na, Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki, who snapped a losing streak with a very impressive win over Petra Martic.

It was a frantic end to the day as the Brit, Heather Watson produced an excellent serving performance to sweep past Iveta Benesova, 6-2 6-1.  Daniela Hantuchova joined Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculescu as early seeded casualties; Hantuchova's conqueror, Jamie Hampton will now take on Heather Watson in the second round.  The matches between Vera Zvonareva and Mona Barthel, and Christina McHale and Johanna Konta will finish off tomorrow with both into deciding sets; in fact McHale has already served for the match twice against Konta but will resume at 7-7.

The top 10 on Day 2
Caroline Wozniacki to beat Tamira Paszek in 3 sets (this one could really go either way!!!)
Laura Robson to beat Francesca Schiavone in 3 sets
Coco Vandeweghe to beat Sara Errani in 3 sets
Svetlana Kuznetsova to beat Yanina Wickmayer in 2 sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in 2 very tight sets

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to beat Lleyton Hewitt in 3 sets
Andy Roddick to beat Jamie Baker in 3 sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Kevin Anderson in 4 sets
Tommy Haas to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in 4 sets
Andy Murray to beat Nikolay Davydenko in 4 sets

Highlights from the Gulbis/Berdych match... I love Berdych's nod at the handshake to Gulbis basically saying that was good man!!!

I have updated my original draws for the womens and mens so you can see my progress after round one... so far, not too bad and I have both champions intact, which is an improvement from the French Open ;-)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Wimbledon: 1st Round Predictions for Day 1

The first two days of Wimbledon are probably the most manic, crazy and exciting days during the whole year! Tomorrow's scheduling has thrown up a number of surprises with Tomas Berdych put on the centre court schedule over Roger Federer.  On paper, court number one has the best line-up of matches with Roger Federer neatly sandwiched between the two most intriguing first round matches from both the mens and womens draws.  Centre Court still boasts much interest with Novak Djokovic starting the defence of his title followed by Roland Garros champion, Maria Sharapova.

For the first two days I will be blogging with the highlights of the action and then from the second round, I will be previewing the best matches for each day along with my predictions.  For these first two days there is just too much going so I am going to sit back and enjoy (when i'm not working!)... still can't believe it starts TOMORROW!!!!

Ready... Play
Day 1 Predictions
ATP Top 5
Janko Tipsarevic to beat David Nalbandian in 5 sets
Novak Djokovic to beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in 3 sets
Roger Federer to beat Albert Ramos in 3 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat Ernests Gulbis in 3 sets
Paul-Henri Mathieu to beat Giles Simon in 4 sets

WTA Top 5
Kim Clijsters to beat Jelena Jankovic in 2 sets
Petra Martic to beat Sabine Lisicki in 3 sets
Angelique Kerber to beat Lucie Hradecka in 2 tight sets
Mona Barthel to beat Vera Zvonareva in 2 sets
Li Na to beat Ksenia Pervak in 2 sets

Saturday, 23 June 2012

WTA Wimbledon Draw: Preview and Predictions

I cannot believe that Wimbledon is finally upon us! The draws have thrown up some intriguing clashes and as ever, the womens draw looks very open.  Lets take a look at the 2012 Wimbledon draw...

PROJECTED FIRST QUARTER - M.Sharapova (1) v A.Kerber (8)
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova kicks off her Wimbledon campaign against Anastasia Rodionova and will be feeling ultra confident having won the French Open just two weeks ago.  Sharapova has had no match practice on the grass, but her draw should allow her to play her way into form.  Her first test is likely to come in the second round against the grass-loving, Tsvetana Pironkova.  Sharapova could then be on course for a semi-final rematch with Sabine Lisicki in the 4th round.  

The German is on a wretched run of form and lost in her opening match at Birmingham.  Lisicki plays Petra Martic in the first round, who made the quarter-finals at the French Open.  Lisicki loves Wimbledon, but I am not sure if its enough to get her on the winning road again.  This section is likely to open up considerably and there are a number of players such as Petra Cetkovska, Sloane Stephens or indeed, Petra Martic who could make the second week.

Angelique Kerber has a tough draw to contend with but she has proven her mettle this year having racked up the most tour wins out of any player in 2012.  She plays the big serving, Lucie Hradecka in the first round who can beat anyone on her day.  In the second round she is likely to meet Ekaterina Makarova (who she beat in the Eastbourne quarter-finals) before a potential third round meeting with Christina McHale.  

The highllight of the first round is also in this section of the draw and sees former world number ones, Kim Clijsters and Jelena Jankovic set to clash.  Clijsters made the semi-finals of s'Hertogenbosch this week, but once again she was forced to pull out with injury.  If she is fit, I have no doubt she will beat Jankovic but her fitness issues lead me to believe that she will not progress past the 4th round.

My Quarter-Final Prediction - Sharapova v Kerber

1st round matches to watch out for - Hsieh v Razzano, Cetkovska v King, Martic v Lisicki, Zvonareva v Barthel, Clijsters v Jankovic and Hradecka v Kerber

Seeds in danger - Vera Zvonareva has not played since Madrid and has been hampered by persistent injuries.  Barthel, who has been in terrible form of late, should be able to take out a rusty Zvonareva and make the third round.  I also predict Foretz-Gacon to take out Niculescu in the 1st round.

PROJECTED SECOND QUARTER - A.Radwanska (3) v S.Stosur (5)
Nadia Petrova
The second quarter-final is by far the weakest and is very likely to see some upsets.  Agnieszka Radwanska takes on Magdalena Rybarikova in the first round, but will once again have her eyes on Venus Williams in the second round.  Radwanska has won their last two matches at Miami and Roland Garros, but playing on grass is a whole different kettle of fish for Venus.  Radwanska was extremely negative about her chances on grass after her first round exit in Eastbourne, claiming she was tired and just preferred hard courts.  

The Birmingham champion, Melanie Oudin is in the section and plays another talented youngster, Timea Babos.  The winner is likely to play Nadia Petrova, who won the title in s'Hertogenbosch and is my dark horse tip to go far this week!

The bottom half of the second quarter is anyones for the taking.  Li Na is somewhat of an unknown quantity following her surprise 4th round exit at Roland Garros and having played no warm-up tournaments for Wimbledon.  She plays Ksenia Pervak (who she played in the first round of the Australian Open) and then potentially Sorana Cirstea (who she played in the first round of the French Open!).   

Sam Stosur has never done well at Wimbledon and was tumbled out by Melinda Czink in the first round last year.  This year she takes Carla Suarez Navarro who equally struggles on this surface.  I do not fancy Stosur to do well here and predict her to fall against the winner of Arantxa Rus and Misaki Doi.  The other seed in this section is Peng Shuai, who has been ravaged by serious injuries this year... 

 My Quarter-Final Prediction - Petrova v Li

1st round matches to watch out for - V. Williams v Vesnina, Benesova v Watson, Hampton v Hantuchova, Babos v Oudin, Li v Pervak and Suarez Navarro v Stosur

Seeds in danger - I have already mentioned that I think Stosur will be gone by the third round and I think Peng will follow her through the exit doors in the first two rounds.  I also predict that the young Brit, Heather Watson could spring an upset against Daniela Hantuchova in the second round.

PROJECTED THIRD QUARTER - S. Williams (6) v P. Kvitova (4)
Petra Kvitova
The third quarter-final is by far the most intriguing on paper and it could see the clash that I have been waiting to see all year! Serena Williams will look to put that shocking first round loss at the French Open to Virginie Razzano behind her as she takes on Barbara Zahlavova Strycova in the first round.  Her draw looks relatively open with either Zheng Jie or Aleksandra Wozniak likely to be waiting in the third round; both good players, but unlikely to trouble Serena.  

In the other third round match in this section, Lucie Safarova and Sara Errani are scheduled to meet, but I could see both falling.  Safarova is a great player, but so often fails to deliver at Grand Slams.  I fancy the Roland Garros quarter-finalist, Yaroslava Shvedova to be very dangerous in this section.  Errani plays the big serving, big hitting Coco Vandeweghe in the first round, who made the final of the ITF event in Nottingham.

Petra Kvitova has a good draw as she tries to defend her Wimbledon title.  Akgul Amanmuradova will be her first round opponent and she is projected to meet Nastia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round.  Dominika Cibulkova and Francesca Schiavone are seeded to meet in the other third round match.  Schiavone is involved in one of the most interesting first round matches against Laura Robson.  The Brit has been handed a string of tough draws at Wimbledon in previous years, but she has a real, real chance in this one.  Cibulkova too has a very challenging opener against Eastbourne semi-finalist, Klara Zakopalova, but I think she will scrape by in three sets.

My Quarter-Final Prediction - S.Williams v Kvitova

1st round matches to watch out for - Scheepers v Shvedova, Pous-Tio v Keothavong, Vandeweghe v Errani, Cibulkova v Zakopalova, Robson v Schiavone, Pavlyuchenkova v Arvidsson and Baltacha v Knapp.

Seeds in danger - I think Errani and Schiavone will fall in the first round, and that Safarova and Zheng could go in round two.

PROJECTED FOURTH QUARTER - C. Wozniacki (7) v V.Azarenka (2)
Marion Bartoli
Caroline Wozniacki has one of the toughest opening matches against the Eastbourne champion and 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Tamira Paszek.  The Dane's recent form has been disappointing and she has lost the ability to tough out close matches.  As has become a tradition in 2012, she has been handed a testing draw.  In the third round she is likely to meet the winner of an intriguing first round match between Yanina Wickmayer and Svetlana Kuznetsova (who met in the third round of Wimbledon last year).  The Russian showed some glimpses of form in Paris, but has not played any warm-up tournaments due to injury.   

Marion Bartoli is nestled in a nice section of the draw with Roberta Vinci or Urszula Radwanska likely to be waiting in the 3rd round.  The only worry is a leg injury she picked up in Eastbourne, but if she can overcome that, she could really go deep in the draw.

Victoria Azarenka has what I define as a cakewalk to begin her Wimbledon championships! Irina Falconi is her first round match, who perhaps should not be taken too lightly having had a resurgence in form in recent weeks having reached the quarter-finals in Birmingham.  

Her 4th round opponent is projected to be between the winner of Julia Goerges and Ana Ivanovic in the third round; both have played no grass court warm-up tournaments with Ivanovic being sidelined by injury and Goerges stupidly opting for the clay of Bad Gastein.  They have potentially sticky openers as Ivanovic takes on the serve-and-volleying, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who took out Jankovic at Wimbledon last year, and Goerges plays Shahar Peer.  In truth, Azarenka should make the quarter-finals without having to work too hard.

My Quarter-Final Prediction - Bartoli v Azarenka

1st round matches to watch out for - Wozniacki v Paszek, Arn v Voskoboeva, Wickmayer v Kuznetsova, Vinci v Barty, U. Radwanska v Erakovic, Ivanovic v M. Sanchez, Goerges v Peer and Medina Garrigues v Halep.

Seeds in danger - Julia Goerges has shown no intent to prepare for Wimbledon on the grass so I think she could fall to Peer in the first round.  Roberta Vinci will also be in danger of falling before the third round to the in-form, Urszula Radwanska.

Final Prediction - Maria Sharapova d. Petra Kvitova
After going for Serena at the French Open, I swore myself never to trust her again as I rarely predict her for the win! For me right now, Sharapova is the most complete and consistent player out there at the moment and I was so impressed with her at Roland Garros that I think she will claim the double sweep this summer.  Her draw is particularly favourable with a few obstacles along the way, but I cannot see her falling victim to a shock.  

Petra Kvitova is my tip from the bottom half; I think she will beat Serena in an epic quarter-final (I hope!) and then Bartoli will take out Azarenka at the same stage.  I have fancied Kvitova to retain her Wimbledon title all throughout 2012 but her recent performances have left me thinking she might just come up short.

A tough one to call, but i'm hoping that my champion pick does not fall in round one like the French Open... come on Sharapova, don't let me down!!!

You can view my full predictions from start to finish for the womens Wimbledon draw HERE

Please feel free to leave comments with your predictions for the WTA draw :-)

ATP Wimbledon Draw: Preview and Predictions

PROJECTED FIRST QUARTER - N.Djokovic (1) v T. Berdych (6)
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic could face two tricky matches to begin the defence of his Wimbledon title, but will feel confident of going deep into the draw once more.  Djokovic opens up against Juan Carlos Ferrero before a second round match against either Ryan Harrison or Yen-Hsun Lu awaits.  Radek Stepanek will be Djokovic's first seeded opponent, before a straightforward looking match-up in the 4th round.  This section is filled with clay courters so it is unlikely that the highest seeds in Marcel Granollers and Juan Monaco will find their way out of the draw.

Tomas Berdych opens up against the potentially tricky, Ernests Gulbis.  He showed in 2010 that he has the grass court pedigree reaching the Wimbledon final and he should be a threat in this draw.  His first test is likely to come in the 4th round where he could meet either Richard Gasquet or Nicolas Almagro.  Gasquet lost in his first match at Eastbourne, but would be my tip to reach the round of 16 next week.

My QF Prediction - Djokovic v Berdych

PROJECTED SECOND QUARTER - R. Federer (3) v J.Tipsarevic (8)
Roger Federer
Roger Federer has by far the most straightforward draw of the top four players.  He plays the Spaniard, Albert Ramos before potential encounters with Julien Benneteau in round three and then either Giles Simon or Fernando Verdasco in round four.  I think this section could see a number of upsets; Giles Simon plays fellow Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu who has had somewhat of a resurgence in recent months following a long, long spell on the sidelines.  I think he will get through several rounds, as will the qualifier, Michael Russell who could play Julien Benneteau in the second round.

Janko Tipsarevic headlines the second part of this section, which is the most open for sure.  Tipsarevic faces a very tough opener against David Nalbandian, who was shockingly defaulted from last week's Queens final.  This match is really close to call although I would give a slight edge to Tipsarevic.  I particularly like Mikhail Youzhny's chances this week; he plays the out-of-form, Donald Young in the first round and could then take on Tipsarevic in the third round.  The other third round match is projected to be between John Isner and Andreas Seppi.  Isner could meet Nicolas Mahut in the second round for what would be their third Wimbledon clash in as many years... the draw just cannot keep those guys apart!

My QF Prediction - Federer v Youzhny

PROJECTED THIRD QUARTER - D Ferrer (7) v A. Murray (4)
Juan Martin Del Potro
The third quarter is packed with all the dangerous floaters, many of whom will be there to upset Andy Murray! Murray takes on Nikolay Davydenko in the first round, before potentially meeting Ivo Karlovic in the second round, who has had his best results on this surface.  Kevin Anderson is the first seed he is projected to meet, but he takes on Grigor Dimitrov in the first round who beat him at Queens just last week.  My only concern with Dimitrov is whether his fitness can hold up through five set matches.  Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic are Murrays most likely 4th round opponent as the two big servers go head-to-head in the third round.  Sam Querrey is in the section too and could face Raonic in round two... PACKED!

David Ferrer has never had his best results on the grass and will not be feeling confident of improving his record based on his draw.  He takes on the flamboyant, Dustin Brown in the first round.  He could play Andy Roddick in a third round blockbuster clash.  Juan Martin Del Potro headlines the other half of this section and should be strong enough to set up a meeting with either Ferrer or Roddick.  Kei Nishikori makes his return from injury this week and could meet Del Potro in the third round.

My QF Prediction - Del Potro v Raonic

PROJECTED FOURTH QUARTER - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (5) v Rafael Nadal (2)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was disappointing at Queens as he fell in the third round amidst concerns about an injured finger.  He has confirmed he is OK to play and will be thankful of a smart looking draw to help him back-up his semi-final performance from last year.  He plays Lleyton Hewitt in an exciting first round match and could then meet Stan Wawrinka in the third round, just like he did at Roland Garros.  His 4th round opponent is up in the air as he is projected to meet the winner of a third round clash between Mardy Fish and Bernard Tomic.  Fish has been out on the sidelines with heart problems so his chances are somewhat uncertain.  Tomic has struggled with illness and was well below his best in an early exit at Eastbourne earlier this week.

Rafael Nadal opens up his Wimbledon campaign against Thomasz Bellucci.  He has some tough obstacles in his draw and none more so than a potential third round match against Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber, who play each other in a tough-as-nails first rounder.  Haas won the title in Halle including a win over Kohlschreiber so I would definitely favour him in that match.  Things would be likely to get easier in the 4th round with Feliciano Lopez and Alexandr Dolgopolov the highest seeds in this section.  I quite like the draw of the American qualifier, Brian Baker who has made a tremendous comeback  to the tour.

My QF Prediction - Tsonga v Nadal

Final Prediction - Rafael Nadal d. Novak Djokovic
The mens is less clear cut this year, but I have stuck safe again and gone for another final between Nadal and Djokovic.  I do not fancy Federer to win Wimbledon; his form throughout the whole of Roland Garros was substandard for him and I feel he is not playing well enough to rival the top two.  Murray too is not on my radar to go far this week because of injuries and a mean looking draw.  I think we could see one or two big breakthroughs this week - potentially Milos Raonic? Although that section has so many up-and-comers ready to shine, it really will be exciting to watch!

You can view my full predictions from start to finish for this years mens Wimbledon draw HERE 

Please feel free to leave comments with your predictions for the mens draw :-)

Tamira Paszek beats Angelique Kerber in Eastbourne final

Tamira Paszek
I am just preparing my preview blogs for Wimbledon, but had to make a mention of a terrific Eastbourne final where Tamira Paszek saved five championship points to beat Angelique Kerber, 5-7 6-3 7-5.  Paszek also fought through a bad ankle towards the end.  I only watched the last three games, but there was some superb tennis on offer, particularly from Paszek who fought tooth and nail for the title.  Kerber was obviously devastated by the loss, which was her first three set loss this year.  I hope she can recover her head in time for Wimbledon where she should do very well.  I also loved Paszek's speech and she seems a really nice person... Wozniacki is likely to be shaking in her boots at watching this although I wonder whether the last week will have taken it out of her as her semi-final and final together took nearly six hours!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Wimbledon draws released!

The draws for this years Wimbledon Championships have been officially unveiled with some fantastic first round matches in both the mens and womens draw.  I will be preparing some bumper previews and predictions for both draws.  The womens is especially tricky this year so deciding my winner is going to be  a tough challenge! My preview posts will be uploaded to my blog tomorrow so keep checking back :-)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

AEGON International, Eastbourne: Report and Photos Part 2

Julien Benneteau v Yen-Hsun Lu
We started watching this match as Benneteau served for it in the third set.  He managed to get himself to match point but blew all three; one on a double fault and another one on a framed smash from an average looking lob by Lu.  Benneteau looked to be struggling with an injury and as Lu earnt himself a break point, the Frenchman decided to call the trainer! I thought it was a bad case of gamesmanship, but it was certainly entertaining to watch.  We wandered off when Benneteau called the trainer, but I was not surprised to hear that he ended up losing, 6-3 2-6 7-6

Whilst watching this match, we stood next to the umpire, Lars Graaf who was chatting with the ATP doubles player, Treat Huey.  They were discussing Andy Murray's chances with Graaf not holding any hope at Wimbledon for Murray.  This is one of the things I love about going to tennis events as you can pick up interesting tidbits around the grounds!

Julien Benneteau

Julien Benneteau requests the trainer... another umpire, James Keothavong was watching the match in the far left corner of the picture!
Agnieszka Radwanska v Tsvetana Pironkova
When we saw Radwanska was a set down we headed round to court one and watched a few games from the back of the court.  This year, they have charged people to go on two of the three main stands, which was most likely reason for the lacklustre attendance.  From all the players I saw on Tuesday, Radwanska generates the least pace although I admire her craft on the court.  However on this occasion she was outdone by Pironkova's forehand slice and continues to dollop the second serve.  Pironkova is another player that will be dangerous on the grass as she will be unseeded.

Agnieszka Radwanska v Tsvetana Pironkova

Court one with many empty seats
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Su-Wei Hsieh
Pavlyuchenkova was playing pretty well in this match although she was helped out by an injured opponent in Hsieh.  She looked marginally fitter and was coming into the net too, which was positive.  We stood next to her coach who kept telling her to focus on the next point when she struggled to close the first set out and was really trying to keep her thinking positive. 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on the move

Su-Wei Hsieh
Caroline Wozniacki v Christina McHale
We missed most of the first set watching matches on the outside courts, but joined to find Wozniacki all over the place.  She was hitting the ball well in practice, but that had not translated well to the match and she appears to be struggling to find the right balance between defence and attack.  The second set failed to ignite early on with short rallies and errors aplenty.  However things slowly picked up towards the end of the set as Wozniacki levelled at one set all.

Caroline Wozniacki

Christina McHale
McHale will have no doubt made some new fans with her performance in Eastbourne.  She played a really gutsy tiebreak saving multiple set points on a number of terrific baseline rallies.  She was undone by an unfortunate slip at 6-6, but she really raised her game throughout the third set as she took the match to Wozniacki playing much more aggressively.  McHale has suffered a number of choking episodes in her career, but she finished the match well and deserved the win.  Wozniacki is starting to lose more of these tight matches and I get the feeling her confidence is quite low at the moment.


Timea Babos v Lucie Safarova
I only saw a few points from this match but it easily looked like the best women's match of the day.  In the  final set tiebreak both players were destroying the ball with pinpoint accuracy.  It was a shame that this match was out on court number five, which is essentially on the practice courts so there were less viewing opportunities.  Babos was literally screaming and screeching during and after every point she won.  Safarova was the more emotionally stable and came back from a mini-break down in the tiebreak to win the match, 3-6 6-3 7-6.

Lucie Safarova

Safarova beats Babos, 3-6 6-3 7-6
Heather Watson v Greta Arn
Greta Arn seemed to be warming up all day just outside the centre court, but it didn't seem to help as she was not playing particularly well in this one.  Watson was solid yet unspectacular and did not get broken during the whole match.  After the match, I walked past Watson and overheard her telling the security guard that  she "just couldn't get loose" during the match...  five minutes later we saw her back out on the practice courts!

Heather Watson

Watson back on the practice courts after her win
Carla Suarez Navarro v Stephanie Dubois
I only saw the first game, but Suarez Navarro's backhand is a touch of beauty! In the first two points it was on full display along with her flowing all court game too; however she ended up losing 6-4 6-4 and although her game is pretty to watch, she was not as solid as Dubois.

Carla Suarez Navarro
Andy Roddick v Sam Querrey
The biggest disappointment of the day was what was billed as the highlight of the day.  Querrey was completely off-range in the beginning continually going long with all his shots and looking a bit disinterested.  It was not a big surprise when he retired at 5-2 down in the first set with a back injury, but it was a shame for the crowd who wanted to see more of this match and in particular, Roddick.  

Querrey and Roddick on centre court... I was so happy with our seats!!!

Querrey retires
Richard Gasquet v Marinko Matosevic
I was really pleased to get a chance to see Gasquet for the first time.  In 2007, I nearly got the chance to see Gasquet play Andy Roddick in the 4th round of Wimbledon, but rain cancelled the match on our day... it turned out to be an epic encounter! Gaquet's backhand is magic although he was overshadowed in this match by Matosevic who was constantly moaning and was always on the wrong end of line calls from the umpire, Mohammed Layani.  I must point out that Layani is my favourite umpire... this guy is a total ledge! His over pronounciation of the scores, immediate overrules and general mannerisms just made this so much more entertaining.

The Gasquet backhand

We had to leave halfway during the second set  at 6-1 2-2  to catch our train home, but I was shocked to hear Gasquet ended up losing the match, 1-7 7-6 7-6! A bad loss for Gasquet but I doubt it will affect him too much going into Wimbledon.

Richard Gasquet

Best of the rest

A perfect day - sunshine and great tennis :-)
As I took a picture of Roddick and Querrey approaching me, it was only when I looked at my photos on the computer that Mohammed Layani was standing right in front of me!

Lukas Rosol on the practice courts

Klara Zakopalova playing doubles

Roddick back on the practice court with his coach Larry Stefanki after just seven games of play against Querrey

Daniela Hantuchova and Zheng Jie all smiles in doubles action

I hope you enjoyed my blog for Eastbourne! I had a fantastic day and will definitely go again next year.  Tuesday is by far the best day to go because there is so much action around the grounds and there are often many early high profile casualties so you get to see everyone.  I might even try and go and twice next year :-)