Tuesday, 12 February 2013

WTA Doha: 2nd Round Predictions

Tuesday saw second round wins for Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Mona Barthel.  Thr brimming-with-confidence, Barthel knocked out the number 6 seed Angelique Kerber, 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour.  Barthel was very solid with 30 winners to 12 unforced errors, but Kerber was well below her best.  Her game has become far too defensive and she is a shadow of the player who I still remember knocking winners from all over the court in Stuttgart last year Her serve also looked lacklustre, which may be down to the back injury that sidelined her from Fed Cup action.

Serena and Sharapova both won in straight sets with wins over Daria Gavrilova and Caroline Garcia respectively.  In other matches, Nadia Petrova won her first match of the year against Andrea Hlavackova, Daniela Hantuchova played a good match to beat an error-strewn Laura Robson and Jelena Jankovic went backwards with a straight sets loss to Monica Niculescu.

Highlights from the end of Serena's match with Gavrilova

Let's take a look at the pick of the matches for Wednesday's order of play in Doha...
1. Svetlana Kuznetsova v Marin Bartoli
Caroline Wozniacki
Marion Bartoli won her first match without her father as a coach with a hard fought 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Francesca Schiavone.  Although Schiavone has yet to win a match in 2013, I thought it was one of her better performances.  She really should have won the first set from 5-2 up, but Bartoli tightened up her game and became more aggressive and consistent.  Bartoli takes on another Roland Garros champion in round two, Svetlana Kuznetsova.  Bartoli and Kuznetsova are 2-2 in their head-to-head with Bartoli winning their most recent encounter in a tension-fuelled quarter-final at Roland Garros in 2011.  Kuznetsova has played the better tennis this year, but Bartoli is never one to be written off.  I think it will be a very close match and I give the edge to Kuznetsova.

Prediction - Kuznetsova to beat Bartoli in 3 sets

2. Caroline Wozniacki v Sorana Cirstea
Caroline Wozniacki had a stroll in the park in round one as she defeated the world number 204, Mervana Jugic-Salkic, 6-1 6-2.  For a time it looked like her opponent in round two would be the Tunisian, Ons Jabeur; however after recovering from a slow start, it was Sorana Cirstea who progressed past Jabeur, 2-6 6-3 6-0.  Cirstea's form throughout 2013 has followed on from 2012 with a menu of complete inconsistency, but still the ability to produce a gem of a performance tucked away in her locker.  Cirstea has beaten Wozniacki twice before and has the kind of game that can trouble a passive Wozniacki.  We still do not know enough about Wozniacki's form in 2013 and I toyed with the idea of a Cirstea win.  In the end, its hard to have faith in Cirstea's game to be solid enough against the still-brick-wall-like Wozniacki.

Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Cirstea in 3 sets

Christina McHale
3. Christina McHale v Lucie Safarova
Christina McHale and Lucie Safarova have not started 2013 in particularly good form, but both enjoyed comprehensive wins today.  McHale eased past Vera Dushevina, 6-1 6-2 for her second win of 2013, meanwhile Safarova beat Eleni Daniilidou with a straightforward 6-2 6-3 win.  McHale's lack of form has been understandable because she was suffering from Mononucleosis at the back end of 2012 so it has taken her some time to find her feet again on the court.  Safarova has certainly improved following her exploits down under, but still remains a mystery in what kind of tennis she is going to deliver on a day-to-day basis.  Safarova has by far the more powerful game, but there is less to go wrong for McHale.  I think the American is improving and will notch up her best win of 2013 so far...
Prediction - McHale to beat Safarova in 3 sets

4. Petra Kvitova v Ekaterina Makarova
Petra Kvitova plays her first match of the week and it will be a tough start against fellow leftie, Ekaterina Makarova.  The Russian player had a very straightforward win over Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round, 6-1 6-2.  Kvitova enjoyed two wins in Fed Cup action at the weekend against Jarmila Gajdosova and Sam Stosur, but still struggled at times in both encounters.  Makarova is a dangerous player and proved that at Eastbourne last year when she beat Kvitova in two tight sets.  Makarova did pull out of her doubles match with a heel injury today so it sounds like she may not be 100%.  This will be a big match for Kvitova and I think she will dig herself out of trouble, taking advantage of Makarova's mental weaknesses...

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Makarova in 3 tough sets

Best of the rest: Doha 2nd round predictions
Victoria Azarenka to beat Romina Oprandi in 2 sets
Daniela Hantuchova to beat Ekaterina Bychkova in 3 sets
Sara Errani to beat Timea Babos in 3 sets
Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Anastasia Rodionova in 2 easy sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Simona Halep in 2 tight sets
Monica Niculescu to beat Sam Stosur in 2 sets
Sloane Stephens to beat Klara Zakopalova in 2 tight sets
Nadia Petrova to beat Hsieh Su-Wei in 2 sets
Roberta Vinci to beat Urszula Radwanska in 2 sets

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