Saturday, 29 September 2012

WTA Beijing: Preview and Predictions

Apologies for the delay in getting my Beijing preview out as I have been away for the last few days.  This is one of the most difficult tournaments to predict with many of the top players suffering injuries and their participation is somewhat in the clouds.  Lets take a look at the draw...

QUARTER 1 - V.Azarenka v S.Errani
Sabine Lisicki
Victoria Azarenka was forced to pull out of her quarter-final match in Tokyo due to dizziness and her participation in Beijing remains questionable.  Azarenka opens up against Alize Cornet before a second round meeting with Sabine Lisicki or Anabel Medina Garrigues.  Azarenka appears to be feeling the effects of a long and tiring season and history would suggest that will not risk her health; therefore I think she will pull out at an early stage.  This could open up this section of the draw and presents a prime opportunity for the out-of-form Germans, Sabine Lisicki and Mona Barthel to  have a good run here; Lisicki has yet to win a match on hard courts since March but records are there to be broken and Medina Garrigues in round one is a very winnable match.

Sara Errani takes on fellow Italian, Camila Giorgi in the first round with the winner to meet another Italian, Romina Oprandi in the second round.  Errani was close to beating the Tokyo champion, Nadia Petrova in the quarter-finals but eventually fell away in a 3-6 7-5 6-3 loss.  She could meet Ana Ivanovic in the third round, who she defeated at the French Open in what was the beginnning of a fairytale run where she took out three Grand Slam champions.  Ivanovic has progressed into the second round having already beaten Christina McHale, 6-3 6-2 and I fancy the Serb to exact revenge on Errani; from what I can remember, Beijing is played on a pretty fast surface and that will play more into Ivanovic's hands...
Prediction - Lisicki v Ivanovic

QUARTER 2 - P.Kvitova v S.Stosur

Petra Kvitova was surprisingly ousted in the first round of play in Tokyo by Petra Martic and faces a stern opener against Daniela Hantuchova in Beijing.  I do not fancy Kvitova's chances in Beijing because of the problems of pollution in China, which will not help her asthma.  Lucie Safarova is projected to meet Kvitova in the third round and takes on Monica Niculescu in the first round; it would seem an easy match on paper as Niculescu is struggling in her comeback from injury but the Romanian did trounce Safarova, 6-0 6-1 at the US Open in one of the oddest results of 2011.  If Safarova prevails, she is likely to have her hands full with the winner of a first round match between Jelena Jankovic and Andrea Petkovic.

Sam Stosur has a bye in the first round by virtue of her semi-final appearance in Tokyo.  She was hampered by what appeared to be an abdominal injury against Nadia Petrova and therefore I am not sure how she will get on this week.  She plays either Vania King or Julia Goerges in the second round; the German has caused problems for Stosur before having won two of their three previous matches and I think she will surprise Stosur in round two.  This could be a good week for Marion Bartoli who takes on Bojana Jovanovski in the first round.  Her draw looks pretty open, especially if Stosur fails to perform...
Prediction - Jankovic v Bartoli

QUARTER 3 - L.Na v A.Radwanska
Nadia Petrova
Li Na has a tough draw at her home tournament with a 2011 French Open final rematch against Francesca Schiavone in the first round.  The winner then plays the Tokyo champion, Nadia Petrova, who will be riding a big wave of confidence having beaten three top 10 players on the way to the title.  The other seed in this section, Dominika Cibulkova has already been knocked out by Yaroslava Shvedova, who will play Yanina Wickmayer or Peng Shuai in the second round.  If Shvedova can keep her head screwed on, she could have a deer run here...

Agnieszka Radwanska reached the final in Tokyo and will need a repeat performance in Beijing where she is the reigning champion and defending big ranking points.  She will play Zhang Shuai in the second round before things will toughen in the third round.  Her projected opponent on seeding is Roberta Vinci, who beat Radwanska at the US Open; however Laura Robson is also in this section and has been in terrific form of late...
Prediction - Radwanska v Li

QUARTER 4 - A.Kerber v M.Sharapova
Angelique Kerber has a bye in the first round before a second round meeting against either Lara Arrubarena-Vecino or Zheng Jie.  Zheng did beat Kerber in Miami earlier this year and may be buoyed by the home crowd; however I would still stick by Kerber to get through.  Kerber could then meet Caroline Wozniacki in the third round.  The Dane has picked up her season having won the title in Seoul and making the quarter-finals in Tokyo with her first top 10 win of 2012 over Li Na.  She takes on Chanelle Scheepers in the first round and then would play the in-form and tricky, Hsieh  Su-Wei.

Maria Sharapova lost in the quarter-finals of Tokyo to Sam Stosur and never looked in peak form in any of her three matches.  She plays Simona Halep in the first round before a second round meeting with Sorana Cirstea or Sofia Arvidsson.  She is likely to face a Russian in the third round with Maria Kirilenko, Ekaterina Makarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova all residing in this section of the draw; I predict that Makarova will upset Kirilenko and then Pavlyuchenkova to make the third round.  Like Azarenka, I do not fancy Sharapova's chance much and think she will fall before the semi-finals...
Prediction - Kerber v Sharapova

Final Prediction - Angelique Kerber d. Marion Bartoli
This week is a free-for-all and I think there will be a lot of surprises just like last year's tournament where Monica Niculescu made the semi-finals.  Marion Bartoli has played well recently and I think she has a pretty good draw.  I don't think Kerber has played at her best recently, but she could easily pick up the pieces in the bottom half.  It is a tricky one this week to predict and I am NOT confident at all of my picks :-S

You can view my full predictions for Beijing HERE

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