Friday, 31 August 2012

US Open: 3rd Round Predictions for Day 6

The Top 4 on Day 6
Agnieszka Radwanska
1. Jelena Jankovic v Agnieszka Radwanska
My top match of the day is between two players who have had contrasting seasons on the tour.  Agnieszka Radwanska has had a stellar season, hitting 50 match wins and rising to world number two, meanwhile Jelena Jankovic has been spiralling down the rankings.  This match though could be an interesting one; Jankovic has had something of an upturn in form, making the final in Dallas and has surprisingly come through the first two rounds without any drama.  Radwanska, who has been battling a shoulder injury and fatigue, was inches away from falling in the last round before eventually storming past the shaky, Carla Suarez Navarro.  Jankovic will not get a better chance to progress deep into a Grand Slam draw and with Radwanska not 100% the opportunity is there for the taking.. can she do it?
Prediction - Radwanska to beat Jankovic in 3 sets

2. James Blake v Milos Raonic
James Blake was sensational in his second round beatdown of Marcel Granollers, 6-1 6-4 6-2.  Blake will feel slightly hard done by to be out on Grandstand in what should be a great match with the huge serving, Milos Raonic.  The Canadian struggled in his opening match against Santiago Giraldo, but looked much more comfortable in dispatching Paul-Henri Mathieu in the second round.  A win for Raonic here would mark his best ever performance at a Grand Slam.  Blake, with the backing of a strong American crowd will certainly cause Raonic some problems, who struggled to hack the pressure up against Lleyton Hewitt in Australia.  I think Blake can nab a set, but its time for Raonic to step it up...
Prediction - Raonic to beat Blake in 4 sets

3. Sloane Stephens v Ana Ivanovic
Sloane Stephens and Ana Ivanovic met at this exact stage of the US Open last year and once more, they will do battle in the night match on Arthur Ashe.  Sloane has had a pretty solid year and continues to progress well on the WTA tour... what is missing is that big breakthrough win and this is her opportunity.  Ivanovic has looked comfortable so far, but has not been tested against either Elena Svitolina or Sofia Arvidsson in the opening two rounds.  Stephens struggled being the favourite in her last match and knowing she was expected to win.  She was extremely gutsy to pull out of a three set stinker against Tatjana Malek.  In this match, she will be the outsider and I am predicting that breakthrough win under the lights...
Prediction - Stephens to beat Ivanovic in 3 sets

4. Marin Cilic v Kei Nishikori
You will have noticed with my highlights that I like to pick out some interesting matches that may miss the headlines.  This third round match between Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic offers up much intrigue and is particularly difficult to call.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was knocked out of this section offering the winner a massive opportunity to make the quarter-finals.  Cilic wasted a two set lead in his second round match before eventually passing the challenge of Daniel Brands in five sets.  Nishikori has been completely undisturbed in his path to the third round.  Cilic was my tip in my original predictions, but I have changed my mind since and am backing Nishikori for the win a tough five setter.
Prediction - Nishikori to beat Cilic in 5 sets

Best of the rest: Womens 3rd round
In the pick of the remaining matches, Serena Williams will face off against her conqueror at the Australian Open, Ekaterina MakarovaAngelique Kerber, who survived a nailbiter to Venus Williams in the second round, should have things much easier against Olga GovortsovaMaria Kirilenko has looked in excellent form so far and will take on Andrea Hlavackova, who has reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.  Finally, watch out for the match between Dominika Cibulkova and Roberta Vinci, which promises to be highly competitive and closely fought.

Roberta Vinci
Serena Williams to beat Ekaterina Makarova in 2 very tight sets
Angelique Kerber to beat Olga Govortsova in 2 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Dominika Cibulkova in 3 sets
Maria Kirilenko to beat Andrea Hlavackova in 2 sets
Sara Errani to beat Olga Puchkova in 2 sets
Tsvetana Pironkova to beat Silvia Soler Espinosa in 3 sets

Best of the rest: Mens 3rd round
There are a number of exciting mens matches tomorrow, most of them involving Americans.  Sam Querrey will once again do battle with Tomas Berdych; the pair faced off in Winston Salem where Berdych prevailed.  Mardy Fish plays the night match with Giles Simon, meanwhile Jack Sock will take on Nicolas AlmagroAndy Murray and Roger Federer both play Spaniards and should not be troubled against Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco respectively.

Tomas Berdych

Roger Federer to beat Fernando Verdasco in 3 sets
Mardy Fish to beat Giles Simon in 3 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Jack Sock in 5 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat Sam Querrey in 4 sets
Andy Murray to beat Feliciano Lopez in 3 sets
Jeremy Chardy to beat Martin Klizan in 3 sets

US Open - Laura Robson beats Li Na!!!

Yes Laura!!!!!!!!
Laura Robson produced another incredible performance to topple Li Na, 6-4 6-7 6-2 and make the second week of the US Open, which is the first time a British women has made the 4th round of a Grand Slam since 1998.  She has also claimed her first ever top 10 win.  I did not stand much chance for Robson in the third round, but she brought her A-game to the court and showed remarkable composure to recover from the disappointment of losing the second set tiebreak.  

At Wimbledon in the mixed doubles, I felt edgy every time she hit a second serve, but this week she has looked confident on the serve and it has been a weapon, not a liability.  Li was below her best but we have seen her play a lot worse this year.  She will be bitterly disappointed not to have rode the momentum of winning in Cincy.  Robson now takes on Sam Stosur... who knows?! Clijsters and Li have pretty similar games, but Stosur will offer something different.  Stosur beat Varvara Lepchenko, 7-6 6-2 to make the 4th round, menawhile Marion Bartoli also booked her place iin the last 16 with a straight sets win over Kristina Mladenovic

US Open: Kerber edges Venus, Roddick to retire

Andy Roddick
Thursday was a dramatic day at the US Open with the final night match proving to be the most thrilling so far as Angelique Kerber completed a hattrick of victories of Venus Williams in 2012 with a hard fought, 6-2 5-7 7-5 victory.  This was by far the closest of their matches although at one point it looked like it would be over very quickly as Kerber raced into a 6-2 2-0 lead.  Venus fought back superbly and won a flurry of games to then lead 4-2 in the final set decider before Kerber came back to win.  The German is still underestimated by many as I noticed on the Sky Sports coverage, they featured seven players who could win the title and included Venus, but not Kerber... hopefully people will start to give Kerber a bit more respect now.

After a dreadful day of predictions on Wednesday, yesterday was a very good day as I managed to successfully predict wins for Kerber, Roberta Vinci and Jack Sock too.  Thursday also saw Andy Roddick announce his retirement from the game.  It came as quite a shock, but in truth his best days are well behind him and it will be fitting that he finishes where he picked up his Grand Slam title.  Roddick will be in action tonight against Bernard Tomic and I hope he keeps winning and gets a great send-off when he does exit the competition.. he deserves it!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

US Open: Mens 2nd Round Predictions for Day 5

The Top 4 for Day 5
Andy Roddick
1. Andy Roddick v Bernard Tomic
Andy Roddick has an intriguing match with Bernard Tomic in the pick of the second round matches.  Roddick enjoyed a straight sets opener and his draw has rather opened up with Juan Monaco departing in round one.  Tomic appears to have stabilised his form after a streaky patch through Roland Garros and Wimbledon.  Roddick and Tomic have never played before but I would definitely give the edge to Roddick to make the third round.
Prediction - Roddick to beat Tomic in 3 sets

2. Janko Tipsarevic v Brian Baker
Janko Tipsarevic came from two sets down in his opener with Guillermo Rufin to keep his hopes alive at the US Open.  He faces a tricky second round match against Brian Baker.  The resurgent American enjoyed a straight sets win in the first round against Jan Hajek and after a dip in form during the summer hard court season appears to be playing better now.  I fancied Baker to progress past Tipsarevic before the tournament began and after watching their respective first round wins, I am still going for Baker!
Prediction - Baker to beat Tipsarevic in 4 sets

3. Juan Martin Del Potro v Ryan Harrison
Juan Martin Del Potro will have breathed a big sigh of relief when David Nalbandian was replaced by lucky loser, Florent Serra in his first round match.  It was a tough encounter, but he was strong enough to win in three sets.  Ryan Harrison has threatened for quite a while, but has yet to have that breakthrough win.  After a wobbly Wimbledon, he will get another shot against the Argentine.
Prediction - Del Potro to beat Harrison in 3 sets

4. Alexandr Dolgopolov v Marcos Baghdatis
The most entertaining of the second round mens matches tomorrow could well be the one between Alexandr Dolgopolov and Marcos Baghdatis. Both players had tough five setters in the first round, in fact Dolgopolov somehow recovered from a two sets and 4-0 third set deficit in his opener against Jesse Levine.  Dolgopolov has won their previous two encounters but both in three tough sets.  It will be their first ever five set match and I expect fireworks...
Prediction - Baghdatis to beat Dolgopolov in 5 sets

Best of the rest:
Philipp Kohlschreiber to beat Benoit Paire in 4 sets
John Isner to beat Jarkko Nieminen in 3 sets
Lleyton Hewitt to beat Giles Muller in 4 sets
David Ferrer to beat Igor Sijsling to beat 3 sets
Novak Djokovic to beat Rogerio Dutra Da Silva in 3 short sets

US Open: Womens 3rd Round Predictions for Day 5

The Top 3 on Day 5
1. Victoria Azarenka v Zheng Jie
Victoria Azarenka has sailed through the tournament so far with dominant wins over Alexandra Panova and Kirsten Flipkens.  The world number one had not played a full match since the Olympics, but she has hit the ground running in New York.  Her third round match will really show us what can kind of level she is playing at as the number 28 seed, Zheng Jie awaits.  Zheng beat Magdalena Rybarikova in the second round and is a dangerous hard-hitter; just ask Serena Williams who battled deep into a third set at Wimbledon earlier this year in what was her toughest match of the two weeks.  Azarenka and Zheng have not played since 2009 in Tokyo but expect an early scare for Azarenka before she eventually finds her feet...
Prediction - Azarenka to beat Zheng in 2 tight sets

2. Li Na v Laura Robson
Laura Robson produced a superb performance to oust Kim Clijsters who had won 22 consecutive matches at the US Open.  The Brit looked dealt with the occasion remarkably well considering she has been prone to a choke or two in the past.  Things do not get easier in the third round in the shape of Li Na.  Under the watchful gaze of Carlos Rodriguez, Li is the in-form player on the WTA tour and showed her toughness in the second round as came back from a 4-0 second set deficit to defeat Casey Dellacqua, 6-4 6-4.  This will be a first encounter between the two, but I think Li will be too strong for Laura on this occasion...
Prediction - Li to beat Robson in 2 sets

3. Nadia Petrova v Lucie Safarova
This section of the draw has been a big downfall in my predictions as the two seeds, Nadia Petrova and Lucie Safarova successfully passed some tricky obstacles.  Safarova has had her best Grand Slam appearance of the year and did well to beat Aleksandra Wozniak in a tight three setter in round two.  Petrova has sailed through the tournament with straight set wins over Jarmila Gajdosova and Simona Halep.  Petrova leads the head-to-head by 4 wins to 1, but their last three matches have all gone the distance.  I am going for Safarova to dig the win out for her best Slam performance yet...
Prediction - Safarova to beat Petrova in 3 sets

Best of the rest
Sam Stosur has looked great this week and with Kim Clijsters already out, I think she will reach the quarter-finals beating Li Na in the 4th round.  Firstly, she will have to execute a path past Varvara Lepchenko who has looked useful so far this week.  Petra Kvitova should not have any problems against Pauline Parmentier, meanwhile an all French battle between Marion Bartoli and Kristina Mladenovic should be much tighter.  Maria Sharapova's cakewalk will continue against Mallory Burdette, who has had a terrific week so far but ultimately stands little hope against the Russian.

Anna Tatishvili to beat Mandy Minella in 3 sets
Sam Stosur to beat Varvara Lepchenko in 2 sets
Maria Sharapova to beat Mallory Burdette in 2 sets
Marion Bartoli to beat Kristina Mladenovic in 2 tight sets
Petra Kvitova to beat Pauline Parmentier in 2 sets

Laura Robson beats Kim Clijsters at the US Open

Laura Robson enjoyed the biggest win of her career so far with a sparkling 7-6 7-6 victory over Kim Clijsters in the second round of the US Open.  It was by far and away, the best match of the US Open so far with Robson showing superb composure to beat the former US Open champion.  The match had real signifcance at the end because this was Clijsters's last tournament. 

It is sad to see Clijsters retire but almost fitting she was beaten by one of the brightest prospects for the WTA tour.  Robson has made some really big steps this year and I was most impressed last night with her movement and ability to stay cool in some very tense moments.  Robson will now take on Li Na in the third round, meanwhile Clijsters will play with Kirsten Flipkens in the womens doubles and Bob Bryan in the mixed doubles... I hope she can wrap her career off with a doubles title :-))

Bye Bye Kim!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

US Open: 2nd Round Predictions for Day 4

The Top 3 on Day 4
Angelique Kerber
1. Angelique Kerber v Venus Williams
The US Open should really kick into gear with day 4's highlight match between Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber.  Kerber has had an terrific year as I have mentioned in a number of my blogs this year! This has included two wins over Venus in Madrid and at the Olympics.  They were both in straight sets although Venus had all hosts of chances in an incredibly tight 7-6 7-6 loss at the Olympics.  Venus seems to have kicked up an extra gear since then and played her best tennis of the year in Cincy where she was striking the ball extremely well.  This should be a great spectacle and finally kick what has been a rather drab Open so far into life.  I will not be surprised whoever wins this match but I am calling Kerber for the win...
Prediction - Kerber to beat Venus in 3 sets

2. Mardy Fish v Nikolay Davydenko
The only mens match that vaguely caught my eye was the match between Mardy Fish and Nikolay Davydenko on Arthur Ashe.  Fish has been very solid since Wimbledon and enjoyed a straight sets win over Go Soeda in the first round.  Davydenko has had an up-and-down kind of season with brief flurries of form.  He struggled in his first round match against the qualifier, Guido Pella.  The pair are at 2-2 in their head-to-head and based on their current form and in front of an American crowd, Fish should have this one in the bag...
Prediction - Fish to beat Davydenko in 3 sets

3. Roberta Vinci v Yaroslava Shvedova
I have picked out another obscure womens second round match but one that promises to be mightily interesting.  Roberta Vinci has looked in excellent form throughout the summer hard court season; she beat Ana Ivanovic and Angelique Kerber in Canada before strolling through the draw in Dallas to win the title.  Her first round demolition of Urszula Radwanska suggests she means business in New York.  Shvedova herself has looked rather handy since a quarter-final run at Roland Garros and she beat good friend Vania King, 6-4 6-2 in the first round.  I think this will be a close match between two in-form players, but I am going for Vinci to maintain her winning run...
Prediction - Vinci to beat Shvedova in 2 tight sets

Serena Williams
Best of the rest: Women
Serena Williams looked in great form in the first round and she continues her assault on the title against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who she famously accused of being a cheat after a match at the French Open.  Agnieszka Radwanska could be tested against Carla Suarez Navarro, meanwhile Ana Ivanovic plays Sofia Arvidsson.

A flurry of seeds went out yesterday and their conquerors will be looking to capitalise on the opportunities presented in the draw.  Sloane Stephens will be the favourite in her second round match with Tatjana Malek, meanwhile the Brit, Johanna Konta who did terrifically well to fight off TEN second set points to beat Timea Babos in the first round, will play Olga Govortsova who ousted the seed, Tamira Paszek.

S. Williams to beat Martinez Sanchez in 2 sets
Radwanska to beat Suarez Navarro in 2 tightish sets
Ivanovic to beat Arvidsson in 2 tight sets
Konta to beat Govortsova in 3 sets
Stephens to beat Malek in 2 sets
Pironkova to beat Morita in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: Men
The biggest surprise tomorrow is Tomas Berdych stuck out on court 11 for his second round match against Jurgen Zopp... ludicrous! The scheduling of the mens tournament this year has really taken the biscuit.  Roger Federer gets his second night match in a row against Bjorn Phau, meanwhile Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes on Martin Klizan.

A number of Americans will be looking for a place in the 3rd round; Sam Querrey will fancy his chances against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo and Jack Sock, who overcame Florian Mayer in the first round will have a great chance of progressing against Flavio Cipolla James Blake faces the number 24 seed, Marcel Granollers on the Louis Armstrong Stadium.  Granollers has been very consistent this year, but with an adoring home crowd, Blake definitely has chances in that one...

Federer to beat Phau in 3 sets
Querrey to beat Ramirez Hidalgo in 3 sets
Tsonga to beat Klizan in 3 sets
Berdych to beat Zopp in 3 sets
Granollers to beat Blake in 5 sets
Sock to beat Cipolla in 4 sets

You can view my full US Open predictions for the WTA and ATP draws

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

US Open: 1st/2nd Round Predictions for Day 3

The Top 3 on Day 3
Kim Clijsters
1. David Ferrer v Kevin Anderson
David Ferrer opens up his US Open campaign on Wednesday with one of the trickier first rounders against the big serving, Kevin Anderson.  The South African has lost some form recently but remains a threat on his favoured hard court surface.  He won the title earlier this year in Delray Beach, beating Andy Roddick and John Isner along the way so the potential is there for all too see.  Ferrer once again will go into a Grand Slam completely under the radar and to be honest, I could see him falling before the quarter-finals with a number of dangerous players in his section of the draw.  Anyway in this first round, the Spaniard will be too solid for Anderson...
Prediction - Ferrer to beat Anderson in 4 sets

2. Kim Clijsters v Laura Robson
Kim Clijsters faces another of the youngest competitors in the draw having beaten Victoria Duval in the first round, 6-3 6-1.  Laura Robson however should be a tougher test for Clijsters who will retire after the US Open.  The Belgian is on course for a blockbuster third round with Li Na, but she will have to play well to get past Robson.  The young Brit beat Samantha Crawford in the first round and always raises her game on the big stages.  She has twice pushed Maria Sharapova hard at Wimbledon and the Olympics although I cannot see her having the mental strength to pull off an upset in this one.
Prediction - Clijsters to beat Robson in 2 sets

3. Aleksandra Wozniak v Lucie Safarova
The match-up between Aleksandra Wozniak and Lucie Safarova should be one of the closest encounters in the top half of the womens draw tomorrow.  Safarova has had some great results this year although her performances at the Grand Slams has been sub-standard as she is yet to reach the third round at any of the three previous majors.  Wozniak has had a very solid year and played particularly well in Canada where she made the quarter-finals earlier this month.  These two last played in Charleston where Safarova prevailed in three sets; however I am going for Wozniak to cause a mini-upset and nick the win...
Prediction - Wozniak to beat Safarova in 3 sets

Best of the rest: Women
Maria Sharapova
Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova both looked in superb form in round one and will look to continue their serene progression through the tournament; Azarenka plays Kirsten Flipkens who has been sidelined with numerous injury and health problems but looks to be finding her feet on the tour once again.  Sharapova will take on Lourdes Dominguez Lino in the night match on Arthur Ashe. The top seeds in action tomorrow should all progress with ease although some of the lower seeds have tough matches.

Nadia Petrova takes on Simona Halep who beat her on the hard courts earlier this year.  Zheng Jie will have her hands full with Magdalena Rybarikova who won the title in Washington DC and Varvara Lepchenko takes on the in-form Anastasia Rodionova, who strolled through qualifying and enjoyed a 6-3 6-0 victory over Julia Cohen in the first round.

Azarenka to beat Flipkens in 2 sets
Sharapova to D.Lino in 2 sets
Li to beat Dellacqua in 2 sets
Stosur to beat Gallovits-Hall in 2 sets
Bartoli to beat Oprandi in 3 sets
Kvitova to beat Cornet in 2 sets
Lepchenko to beat Rodionova in 3 long sets
Halep to beat Petrova in 2 sets

Del Potro
Best of the rest: Men
The scheduling of the mens draw at this year's US Open has been as ludicrous as ever with a number of first round mens matches still to be played and several are scheduled last on tomorrow.  John Isner, Janko Tipsarevic, Richard Gasquet and Tommy Haas will all take to the court tomorrow.  Juan Martin Del Potro was due to play David Nalbandian, but reports suggest that Nalbandian has now pulled out, which is a shame because that was the most enticing of the first round clashes.

Andy Murray will play his second round match against Ivan Dodig at night, but there is no sign of Roger Federer on the schedule... ridiculous!

John Isner to beat Xavier Malisse in 4 sets
Janko Tipsarevic to beat Guillermo Rufin in 3 sets
Tommy Haas to beat Ernests Gulbis in 4 sets
Philipp Kohlschreiber to beat Michael Llodra in 3 sets
Richard Gasquet to beat Albert Montanes in 4 sets
Andy Murray to beat Ivan Dodig in 4 sets 

You can view my full US Open predictions for the WTA and ATP draws, which I made before the tournament kicked off.  I have lost a few third and fourth rounders, but also correctly predicted the seeded exits of Lisicki, Niculescu, Zakopalova.

Monday, 27 August 2012

US Open: 1st Round Predictions for Day 2

The Top 3 on Day 2
1. Francesca Schiavone v Sloane Stephens
The most interesting of the womens matches for tomorrow will see Francesca Schiavone take on the up-and-coming American, Sloane Stephens.  Stephens has had some solid results lately, most notably at the Grand Slams with a 4th round showing at Roland Garros and 3rd round at Wimbledon.  She has a pretty complete game, but is still learning on the mental side and has looked very fragile at the key moments in her matches.  Schiavone had solid showings at Roland Garros and Wimbledon but has since fallen back into a bit of a slump.  She was desperately short of form in a Cincy thumping by Camila Giorgi and I fancy Stephens will have too much game for Schiavone in this one...
Prediction - Stephens to beat Schiavone in 2 sets

2. David Goffin v Tomas Berdych
Tomas Berdych has the toughest opening match for the mens against the dangerous, David Goffin.  The Belgian youngster made a name for himself at Roland Garros where he reached the fourth round and put in an admirable performance against his hero, Roger Federer.  Goffin has since been extremely steady and reached the quarter-finals just last week in Winston Salem.  Berdych has had a tough few months and will certainly be vulnerable having lost his openers at Wimbledon and the Olympics.  I think that Goffin will win at least a set, but I will stick by Berdych to make it into the second round...
Prediction - Berdych to beat Goffin in 4 sets

3. Venus Williams v Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Venus Williams will open her campaign against the flamboyant Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Arthur Ashe stadium.  Mattek-Sands has a crazy game with the potential to scare the big guns, but often when things get tight she folds like a cheap tent.  Venus is always a question mark, but she showed great fight and resolve in Cincy where she made a superb semi-final appearance.  She did pick up a back injury there and has stated she is not yet 100%; however I think she will have enough in the tank to get into the second round where things could get a lot tougher with Angelique Kerber looming...
Prediction - Venus to beat Mattek Sands in 2 tight sets

Results so far...
The Germans are having a very rough time of it, but generally in line with my predictions ;-) Sorana Cirstea defeated an irratic Sabine Lisicki, 4-6 6-2 6-2.  Lisicki was particularly poor on serve and looked well below her best today.  Julia Goerges lost too, more suprisingly to Kristyna Pliskova, 7-6 6-1.  Anabel Medina Garrigues was the third womens seed to fall to Lucie Hradecka.   Sam Stosur produced the most impressive performance of play so far with a 6-1 6-1 thumping over Petra Martic.  She won the first 19 points of the match and was no match for Martic, who looked very rusty and short of match play having been on the sidelines since Wimbledon.

In the mens draw, Florian Mayer retired after losing the first two sets to the young American, Jack Sock and Andy Murray laboured to a first round win against Alex Bogomolov Jr... a win is a win though and I am not worried at all yet about my prediction!

US Open: 1st Round Predictions for Day 1

The Top 3 on Day 1
Sorana Cirstea
1. Sabine Lisicki v Sorana Cirstea
The match on the womens schedule that gave me the most bother in predicting was the one between Cirstea and Lisicki which is first up on court 13.  Both players are known for their streakiness and this match-up has three sets written all over it.  Cirstea has suffered some shocking losses over the summer hard court season, most notably a 6-0 6-0 loss to Sesil Karatantcheva, but she did manage to make the semi-finals of Stanford and the quarter-finals of Dallas.  Lisicki managed to resurrect her form through Wimbledon but has done nothing of note on the hard courts; in fact she has not won a match since Miami on this surface.  Lisicki also pulled out of Cincy and along with a 0-3 head-to-head deficit to Cirstea, I am edging towards Cirstea...
Prediction - Cirstea to beat Lisicki in 3 sets

2. Sam Stosur v Petra Martic
Sam Stosur opens up her defence of the US Open title right she left off from last year on Arthur Ashe stadium against Petra Martic.  It will be a testing opener for Stosur, who last played Martic in a tight three-set match in Madrid.  Martic has all the weapons in her artillery and appears to like the big stage having taken out home favourite Marion Bartoli at Roland Garros earlier this year.  However Martic has been suffering with injury problems since then and Stosur looked pretty sharp in Cincy so I would expect her to pass the first round without too many problems.
Prediction - Stosur to beat Martic in 2 tight sets

3. Robin Haase v Feliciano Lopez
None of the mens matches really caught my eye for today so I have gone for a slightly more obscure one between Haase and Lopez.  Haase had an incredible match with Andy Murray at last year's US Open where he led by two sets to love before Murray came roaring back.  Haase looked like an exciting prospect at that time, but he struggled throughout the first half of 2012; more recently he has looked more assured winning the title in Kitzbuhel.  Lopez has been in and out this year and has lost his only previous encounter with Haase.  I have earmarked this to be a long match, but I fancy Lopez to edge through to the second round.
Prediction - Lopez to beat Haase in 5 sets

Daniela Hantuchova
Best of the rest: women
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daniela Hantuchova will battle it out on court 13 in an intriguing first round match.  Hantuchova started the season well, but she has struggled to get back on the winning ladder after missing most the clay court season.  Li Na begins her title bid against Heather Watson, meanwhile Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters will open their accounts on Arthur Ashe against Melinda Czink and Victoria Duval respectively.

Pavlyuchenkova to beat Hantuchova in 2 sets
Li to beat Watson in 2 sets
Sharapova to beat Czink in 2 tight sets
Clijsters to beat Duval in 2 sets

Best of the rest: mens
Roger Federer and Andy Murray are both in action today on Arthur Ashe up against Donald Young and Alex Bogomolov Jr. respectively.  Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori and Mardy Fish are also playing today and I expect comfortable wins for all three.  The one surprise could come between Jack Sock and Florian Mayer where I fancy the young American, who won the mixed doubles title with Melanie Oudin last year, to be a dangerous opponent for the wacky German.

Federer to beat Young in 3 sets
Murray to beat Bogomolov in 3 sets
Sock to beat Mayer in 4 sets

Sunday, 26 August 2012

ATP US Open: Preview and Predictions

Roger Federer
FIRST QUARTER - R.Federer v T.Berdych
Roger Federer opens up his US Open campaign against Donald Young, which will grace the first evening session on Arthur Ashe this year.  Young went on an incredible 17-match losing streak before finally recording a win in Winston Salem last week.  The Swiss world number one has a relatively routine opening to the tournament with his projected route including Fernando Verdasco in the third round and then Mardy Fish in round four.  Fish has enjoyed a very solid hard court season, but beating Federer in a best of five set match would be a real surprise.

Tomas Berdych has struggled through the last couple of months although he did manage to reach the final of Winston Salem last week where he lost in a tight three-set final to John Isner.  Berdych has one of the trickiest openers against the young Belgian, David GoffinSam Querrey could then pose another test in round three; Berdych did in fact beat Querrey in the semi-finals of Winston Salem and I think the American may have burnt himself out over the last couple of weeks.  

Prediction - Federer v Berdych

1st round highlights - Federer/Young, Fish/Soeda, Russell/Simon, Almagro/Stepanek, Goffin/Berdych

Dark horses - Jack Sock and Tomas Berdych

SECOND QUARTER - A.Murray v J.W.Tsonga
Andy Murray
Andy Murray will go into the US Open with brand new optimism that this is his time to win his first Grand Slam; despite early exits in Canada and Cincy, he is still riding the high of winning the Olympics after beating Roger Federer in the final.  Murray has been handed a tough draw at Flushing Meadows.  Alex Bogomolov Jr. will be his first round opponent before sterner tests in round three with Feliciano Lopez and then potentially, Milos Raonic in the 4th round.  Raonic beat Murray in Barcelona, but the Canadian has yet to prove himself over best of five set matches at the Grand Slams.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is Murray's projected quarter-final opponent.  The Frenchman opens up against the qualifier Karol Beck and could then meet fellow compatriot, Jeremy Chardy in the third round.  Chardy managed to nick the final seeding spot through an impressive run in Toronto and Cincy, which included a victory over Tsonga in Canada.  I think this time round Tsonga would be too strong over five sets.  Tsonga's fourth round opponent is likely to come from an intriguing section involving Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori.

Prediction - Murray v Tsonga

1st round highlights - Haase/Lopez, Giraldo/Raonic, Chardy/Volandri

Dark horses - Marin Cilic

John Isner
THIRD QUARTER - J.Tipsarevic v D.Ferrer
Janko Tipsarevic plays Guillermo Rufin in the first round before a much tougher test is likely to face in the second round against either Jan Hajek or Brian Baker.  Baker had terrific runs at Nice and Wimbledon and despite a lapse in form over the last month, I think the home crowd could pull him through an upset over Tipsy in round two.  John Isner is also in this section and looks to have a great chance to bag a deep run in the draw following a superb week in Winston Salem with two top ten wins.  He opens up against Xavier Malisse and is projected to meet to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round.

David Ferrer has earnt himself the number 4 ranking by virtue of Rafael Nadal's withdrawal.  He will play the big serving Kevin Anderson in round one before Mikhail Youzhny looms in the third round.  Lleyton Hewitt is in this section and has already beaten Youzhny on the hard courts this summer so he should be able to win a few rounds here.  This quarter definitely holds prospects for a number of players to have a deep run and Richard Gasquet and Tommy Haas are two names destined to be in the mix for the quarter-finals.  The pair could meet in the third round if they can overcome their first two rounds; Gasquet may have to get past Jurgen Melzer in the second round, meanwhile Haas has drawn the irratic Ernests Gulbis in the first round.

Prediction - Isner v Ferrer

1st round highlights - Kohlschreiber/Llodra, Dimitrov/Paire, Malisse/Isner, Gulbis/Haas, Youzhny/Muller and Anderson/Ferrer

Dark Horses - Viktor Troicki and John Isner

FOURTH QUARTER - J.M.Del Potro v N.Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
Many people have earmarked Juan Martin Del Potro as a significant threat to the big three this week although the Argentine has a tough draw.  He opens up with the juiciest of the first rounders against fellow Argentine and resident bad boy on the ATP tour, David Nalbandian.  An Olympic rematch could be in order with Andreas Seppi in the third round and then a fourth round match, assuming he gets that far, against either Andy Roddick or Juan Monaco.  Roddick has looked less than convincing recently and a second round match with Bernard Tomic beckons if both win their openers.

Novak Djokovic begins the defence of his title against Paolo Lorenzi and will be confident with his draw of reaching yet another US Open final.  Julien Benneteau and Alexandr Dolgopolov are the two highest seeds in Djokovic's section although watch out for Cincy semi-finalist, Stan Wawrinka and Marcos Baghdatis, who could meet Dolgopolov in the second round.

Prediction - Del Potro v Djokovic

1st round highlights - Del Potro/Nalbandian, Roddick/Williams, Benneteau/Rochus

Dark Horses - Stanislas Wawrinka

Final Prediction - Andy Murray d. Novak Djokovic
Before I had even looked the draw, I had decided that I would be going for Murray to win the US Open.  I think his triumph at the Olympics will have been monumental for his confidence and I am not at all worried by his early exit in Cincy... come on Andy!

You can view my full predictions for the US Open mens draw HERE

Saturday, 25 August 2012

WTA US Open: Preview and Predictions

This summer has been jam packed with tennis and it keeps on coming this week with the final major of 2012.  Lets take a look at the draw...

Victoria Azarenka
1ST QUARTER - V.Azarenka v S.Stosur
Victoria Azarenka headlines the US Open draw and will play Alexandra Panova in the first round.  Azarenka comes into Flushing Meadows with little match play since the Olympics as she retired from her first match in Montreal at 3-3 against Tamira Paszek.  She should be able to play herself into form through her opening matches before the competition will toughen with Zheng Jie projected in the third round and then Sabine Lisicki in the 4th round.  Lisicki has a testing opener against Sorana Cirstea who has won all three of their previous matches.  Lisicki has also been out of action recently with injury and in the past, it has often take her some time to find her feet on the court...

Sam Stosur begins the defence of her US Open title against Petra Martic, who will be no walkover.  The big headline though from this quarter is the potential meeting of Kim Clijsters and Li Na in the third round.  Li looked close to top form in Cincy, but she has been handed a tough-as-nails draw at the US as she will have to overcome her mental jitters head on to get past the third round.  

Li suffered a painful loss to Clijsters earlier in the year when she blew four match points in their fourth round encounter at the Australian Open in arguably the most dramatic match of the year so far.  If Li was to get past that one, Stosur would most likely await in the 4th round; this is another a horrible match-up for Li who struggles to read the Stosur game and has lost all six encounters including a 6-1 6-0 thumping at the WTA Championships in their most recent clash.  It is also worth noting that this is Clijsters's final ever faring on the WTA tour and that she has won her last 21 matches at the US Open...

QF Prediction - Azarenka v Clijsters

1st round highlights - Cirstea/Lisicki, Li/Watson, Martic/Stosur

Dark Horses - Julia Goerges

Maria Sharapova
2ND QUARTER - M.Sharapova v P.Kvitova
Maria Sharapova has not played since that devastating loss in the Olympics final to Serena Williams, but that should not be a problem as she has been handed a crazy cakewalk of a draw.  She opens up against Melinda Czink and is projected to play Anabel Medina Garrigues in the third round, who will offer no threat whatsoever to the Russian.   

Lucie Safarova and Nadia Petrova are the two seeds battling out for a chance to meet Sharapova in the 4th round.  Safarova's form at the Grand Slams this year has been terrible, but this could be a chance for her to make amends.  Petrova, who plays Jarmila Gajdosova in the first round, has always been a classy player but her brain too often brings her crashing back down to earth so I do not expect much from her this week...

Petra Kvitova has enjoyed a superb US Open series and should be confident of extinguishing memories of a shocking first round loss last year to Alexandra Dulgheru.  Her first substantial test is likely to come in the 4th round where she is anticipated to meet Marion Bartoli.  Bartoli will have her hands full with Andrea Petkovic if both win their openers, meanwhile Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova could well be the one to come through to meet Kvitova in the 4th round if she can tame Daniela Hantuchova in the first round.

QF Prediction - Sharapova v Kvitova

1st round highlights - Oudin/Safarova, Bartoli/Hampton, Hantuchova/Pavlyuchenkova

Dark Horses - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Serena Williams
3RD QUARTER - C.Wozniacki v S.Williams
Caroline Wozniacki has a great draw for Flushing Meadows but her preparations have been less than ideal as she was forced to retire from her beloved New Haven tournament with a knee injury.  She opens up against Irina-Camelia Begu before a potential match with the weakest seed in the draw, Monica Niculescu who has missed the last couple of months through injury.   

Ana Ivanovic is also in this section, but she comes into the US Open having yet to win a game on the American hard courts throughout the summer following a 6-0 6-0 loss to Roberta Vinci in CanadaFrancesca Schiavone has the most intriguing opener in this section against Sloane Stephens; if Schiavone plays anything like she did in Cincy, Sloane should enjoy a rewarding run here...

Serena Williams will go into the US Open as the clear favourite and her draw has certainly improved her chances with Azarenka, Kvitova, Sharapova, Li and Clijsters all positioned in the top half.  She plays Coco Vandeweghe in an all-American first rounder.  Peng Shuai is her first projected seed in the third round before Maria Kirilenko could await in the 4th round.  Kirilenko has been very impressive of late, but is unlikely to pose many problems for the American.

QF Prediction - Wozniacki v S.Williams

1st round highlights - Pironkova/Giorgi, Schiavone/Stephens, Peng/Vesnina, Vandeweghe/S.Williams

Dark Horses - Sloane Stephens and Arantxa Rus

Agnieszka Radwanska
4TH QUARTER - A.Kerber v A.Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska will head into the US Open in unconvincing fashion following a string of disappointing losses in Montreal, Cincy and New Haven and hampered with a persistent shoulder injury.  Her draw lends her a helping hand but I think she could face a similar fate to last year where she fell in the second round.  Her first projected seed is Jelena Jankovic, who would have been a walking bye before this weeks tournament in Dallas, but she has since turned her form around with a stirring run to the final.  Radwanska did go into Wimbledon in similar form and she made the final then; however I think this time round, she will not be able to rediscover her game in time...

Angelique Kerber has been the breakthrough star in 2012 and if she can overcome some tough early opponents, this could be her best Grand Slam of the year so far.  There is a BUT though as she has drawn Venus Williams in the second round assuming she can get past Anne Keothavong (no offence Anne, but it ain't happening) and Venus can beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands.  Kerber enjoyed a tight 7-6 7-6 victory over Venus at the Olympics and I think she will edge past the American once more.  

In the third round, there could be a rematch of one of the finest matches of the year as Tamira Paszek is a potential third round match for Kerber; the two played in the Eastbourne final where Kerber had an agonising loss, but on the hard courts I think Paszek will struggle to make the third round.  Sara Errani and Christina McHale are set for the other third rounder in this section; this is a superb chance for both to get into the second week, most likely to be taken by Errani who has not done badly at all since leaving the clay courts.

QF Prediction - Kerber v Vinci

1st round highlights - Mattek-Sands/Venus, Jovanovski/Barthel, King/Shvedova, U.Radwanska/Vinci

Dark Horses - Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci

Final Prediction - Maria Sharapova d. Angelique Kerber
My predictions for Serena have always been way off but my instinct tells me she will not win here.  Her performance on the hard courts all year has not been at the same standard as that of her clay and grass court season and frankly I am bored of predicting Serena to win everything ;-) Sharapova and Kerber are my predicted finalists... lets see how these two weeks go!

You can view my full predictions for Womens US Open draw HERE

Friday, 24 August 2012

WTA New Haven: Semi-Final Predictions

Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova booked their places in the semi-finals of New Haven yesterday with striaght-set wins.  Wozniacki picked up a worrying knee injury during her match with Dominika Cibulkova but benefitted from a complete capitulation from the Slovak to win 6-2 6-1.  Kvitova beat fellow Czech Lucie Safarova, 6-3 6-3 to win the US Open series title by virtue of semi-final runs in new Haven and Cincy, and winning the title in Canada.  Wozniacki will now play Maria Kirilenko who eased past Olga Govortsova and Kvitova will play Sara Errani who continued her impressive week with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Marion Bartoli.

The Dallas final will see Jelena Jankovic square off with Roberta Vinci.  Jankovic has enjoyed a surprising resurgence this week and since a first round struggle with Yaroslava Shvedova, has won all her matches in straight sets.  Vinci too has looked impressive and enjoyed her second double bagel off this hard court summer season over Bojana Jovanovski.  She previously beat Ana Ivanovic in Canada, 6-0 6-0 and against Jankovic tonight, will be going for the Serbian treble of double bagel wins!

Highlights from Wozniacki/Cibulkova QF in New Haven

New Haven SF Predictions:
Maria Kirilenko to beat Caroline Wozniacki in 2 sets (based on Caro's injury)
Petra Kvitova to beat Sara Errani in 2 sets

Dallas Final Prediction:
Roberta Vinci to beat Jelena Jankovic in 3 sets

Winston Salem SF Predictions:
John Isner to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2 sets
Sam Querrey to beat Tomas Berdych in 3 tight sets

US Open Draw is released!

The US Open draw was released last night and I will be preparing my previews and predictions this weekend for the final Grand Slam of 2012 so stay tuned....

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

WTA New Haven: Quarter-Final Predictions

Sara Errani
All the tournaments are at different stages so lets take a look at some of the matches for today/tomorrow starting with New Haven:

WTA New Haven:
TOP MATCH - Marion Bartoli vs. Sara Errani
Marin Bartoli has enjoyed some rare wins this week in New Haven following a real slump in form since defeating the world number one, Victoria Azarenka back in March.  Yesterday, she beat Sloane Stephens in a 6-1 0-6 6-3 victory to set up a quarter-final with Sara Errani.  The Italian has been on the end of some thrashings from Venus Williams lately at the Olympics and in Cincy, but has remained relatively consistent in beating the players she is expected to beat.  They have only played once before where Bartoli prevailed in straight sets on a hard court, but I fancy a closer encounter this time round...
Prediction - Bartoli to beat Errani in 3 sets
Best of the rest predictions:
Maria Kirilenko to beat Olga Govortsova in 2 sets

WTA Dallas:
TOP MATCH - Jelena Jankovic vs. Sorana Cirstea
Jelena Jankovic has now won two matches this week following a typically crazy first round match against Yaroslava Shvedova.  Things were a lot easier in the second round as she defeated Arantxa Rus in straight sets to set up a quarter-final meeting with Sorana Cirstea.  Cirstea has won their two previous encounters although both were on clay and extremely close.  I fancy another tough match again and have to give the edge to Cirstea based on Jankovic's recent ability to close out three set matches (she did beat Shvedova in three sets but I still don't trust her)
Prediction - Cirstea to beat Jankovic in 3 crazy sets

Best of the rest predictions:
Peng Shuai to beat Bojana Jovanovski in 2 tight sets
Aleksandra Wozniak to beat Casey Dellacqua in 2 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Chanelle Scheepers in 2 sets

ATP Winston Salem:
John Isner to beat Jurgen Melzer in 3 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat Jarkko Nieminen in 2 tight sets
David Goffin to beat Lukas Kubot in 3 sets
Marcel Granollers to beat Ernests Gulbis in 3 sets

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

WTA New Haven Update - Petkovic returns, beats Babos in opener

Andrea Petkovic made a triumphant return to the WTA tour with a gritty three set victory over Timea Babos, 6-3 5-7 7-5.  It was a particularly encouraging win for the German player who has been out since Stuttgart where she sustained an ankle injury.  Babos has shown much promise this year and I think with more experience, will be a regular in the top 30.

In other matches, Mona Barthel scored a solid win over Daniela Hantuchova, 6-3 7-5 to set up a second round match against Maria KirilenkoCaroline Wozniacki kepts the wins coming in New Haven with a routine 6-3 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova and Olga Govortsova beat her doubles partner, Vera Dushevina for the second time in this tournament having defeated her in qualifying and then once again in the main draw when Dushevina was entered as a lucky loser.

In Dallas, I was pleased to see Angelique Kerber withdraw from the tournament before her first match.  The big talking point was a very impressive win for Jelena Jankovic who came from behind to beat Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-7 7-6 6-1.  The draw is completely wide open and with my winner out, my predictions are already looking depleted!

Andrea Petkovic is back!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

WTA New Haven: Preview and Predictions

Play is already underway in New Haven and soon to start at the other two tournaments taking place this week in Dallas (WTA) and Winston Salem (ATP) so lets take a quick look at the draws!

WTA New Haven
The New Haven draw has already been hit with two withdrawals (Francesca Schiavone and Nastia Pavlyuchenkova) and could well be hit with more over the coming days.  Agnieszka Radwanska once again tops the draws in her all-out pursuit to get to world number one, which thankfully cannot happen this week.  Petra Kvitova is the number two seed, but I am hoping she will pull out... word on the grapevine is not good as she does anticipate to respect her commitment.

Radwanska's dodgy shoulder certainly does not make her a favourite this week in what is a tough line-up.  She is due to meet Maria Kirilenko in the quarter-finals, who will first have to get past the winner of an intriguing opener between Daniela Hantuchova and Mona BarthelCaroline Wozniacki who has never lost at New Haven would be Radwanska's prospective semi-final opponent; Wozniacki opens up against Ekaterina Makarova and has returning-from-injury Andrea Petkovic (yay!) and Dominika Cibulkova in her section.

A fully fit and fully engaged Petra Kvitova would be able to waltz through this tournament at her best.  Her fellow Czech, Lucie Safarova could await in the quarter-finals and then Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals; Bartoli takes on Laura Robson in the first round, which has potential upset slapped all over it...

Final Prediction - Caroline Wozniacki d. Zheng Jie
First round highlights - Hantuchova/Barthel, Bartoli/Robson, Stephens/Paszek and Pironkova/Zheng
View my full predictions HERE

WTA Dallas
Yaroslava Shvedova
Angelique Kerber headlines the tournament in Dallas this week where she started to turn her career around last year by reaching the semi-finals.  Its finally time for the German to start defending some ranking points although I am hoping she withdraws and rests up for the US Open.  The draw is literally wide open for anyone if Kerber withdraws as the number two seed, Jelena Jankovic faces against in-form, Yaroslava Shvedova in the first round.  I think Shvedova will do very well this week; the only worry is whether her body can survive the hot temperatures in Dallas as she had to retire from Cincy due to heat exhaustion.

Final Prediction - Yaroslava Shvedova d. Peng Shuai
First round highlights - Jankovic/Shvedova, Vinci/Hsieh and Zakopalova/Wozniak
View my full predictions HERE

John Isner
ATP Winston Salem
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga headlines in Winston Salem with Tomas Berdych, Andy Roddick, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Alexandr Dolgopolov all in action.  Tsonga faces a tough opening match against either Thomasz Bellucci or Marcos Baghdatis.  I do not fancy him to win this week and would tip John Isner and Marcel Granollers to go far in the top half.

In the bottom half of the draw, Sam Querrey has a very nice draw and should feature in the latter stages of the tournament.  Tomas Berdych has struggled for form during the summer hard court season but should have a chance to play his way into form and get some matches under his belt.

Final Prediction - John Isner d. Sam Querrey
First round highlights - Bellucci/Baghdatis, Goffin/Mahut and Blake/Ramos
View my full predictions HERE