Monday, 13 August 2012

WTA Cincinnati: Preview and Predictions

Cincinnati has taken a big hit this year with both Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova not participating.  This gives the opportunity for Agnieszka Radwanska to headline her biggest event yet.  Lets take a look at the draw, which looks rather bottom heavy to me...

Agnieszka Radwanska
QUARTER 1 - A. Radwanska v M.Bartoli
Agnieszka Radwanska has a bye in the first round along wih the top eight seeds and Li Na.  Once again in 2012, I believe she has been handed an extremely favourable draw.  She takes on Sofia Arvidsson or Wimbledon quarter-finaist, Tamira Paszek in the second round.   Radwanska could then take on Francesca Schiavone in the third round, who she has beaten on the last three occasions.  Schiavone has a tough opener against fellow Italian, Camilla Giorgi who could well spring a surprise.  Tsvetana Pironkova and Sloane Stephens will meet on the court in another intriguing opener.  I fancy the winner to make the third round with Stephens having the edge on hard courts...

Marion Bartoli and Li Na are situated in one of the weaker section of the draw.  Li is still competing in Toronto so I do not expect her to go deep in this draw.  Yanina Wickmayer and Sorana Cirstea who both endured horrid times in Toronto (Wickmayer wasted match points to Roberta Vinci and Cirstea was double-bageled to Sesil Karatantcheva) will have a chance for redemption; having watched Wickmayer at Wimbledon, I think she will be more solid than Cirstea and be a surprise quarter-finalist here...

Prediction - Radwanska v Wickmayer

QUARTER 2 - S.Stosur v S.Errani
The second section is packed with dangerous floaters, particularly in Errani's section.  The Italian will play the winner of a first round match between Daniela Hantuchova and Zheng Jie.  If she was to progress through that, it would not get much easier in the third round where she is projected to meet Maria Kirilenko, who had a very impressive grass court season; however the Russian has the toughest opener against the unseeded, Venus Williams.

Sam Stosur is set for a third round duel with Nadia Petrova, who she comfortably beat in their last match at the French Open, but has had some incredibly epic matches in their last two hard court affairs.  Petrova has a tough draw opening up against Ekaterina Makarova with the winner likely to play Klara Zakopalova

Prediction - Stosur v Kirilenko

QUARTER 3 - C.Wozniacki v P.Kvitova
Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova could meet again in Cincy following their three set clash in the Toronto semi-finals; in truth following a gruelling week of constant rain interruptions, it is unlikely both will make the quarter-finals here.  Wozniacki will play Sesil Karatantcheva or Kiki Bertens in the second round.  It is worth noting that Karatantcheva has had two marvellous come-from behind victories in qualifying.  Ana Ivanovic has now withdrawn so this section is still up in the air, but it could provide Julia Goerges with a chance to make up for a shocker in Toronto.  She holds an excellent record over Wozniacki who she could meet in the third round...

Petra Kvitova plays the winner of Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Mona Barthel in the second round; Barthel has come close to pulling off a top seed-slaying performance on several occasions but continually seems to come up short as she wasted a match point in a tight loss to Agnieszka Radwanska last week.  Jelena Jankovic is Kvitova's third round projected opponent.   The Serbian will take on Peng Shuai in her opener.  Jankovic has been on a dire run of form and because she is defending a final performance from last year, she is on the verge of dropping out of the top 30 for the first time in a very, very long time.

Prediction - Wozniacki v Vinci

QUARTER 4 - A.Kerber v S.Williams
Angelique Kerber's rise up the rankings in 2012 has been quite extraordinary and her draw this week presents her with a great chance of reaching yet another quarter-final.  She will take on either Timea Babos or Varvara Lepchenko in the second round before a possible third-rounder with Dominika Cibulkova.  The diminutive Slovakian opens against Akgul Amanmuradova, who has had previous success in Cincy having made the semi-finals in 2010.

If Serena Williams is fully fit, she should have absolutely no problems in wiping away the competition in her early rounds.  The first seed she is likely to play is Lucie Safarova, who suffered a heartbreaking loss in Toronto where she wasted a 5-1 third set lead to Li Na in their semi-final.  I think Safarova will be vulnerable in Cincy with Yaroslava Shvedova, her first round opponent ready to pick up the pieces...

Prediction - Kerber v S.Williams

Final Prediction - Serena d. Radwanska

Full Predictions HERE

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