Sunday, 10 February 2013

WTA Doha: Preview and Predictions

A stellar line-up of women including 17 of the world's top 20 will play in Doha, the first of the Premier 5 events in 2013.  The top eight seeds will all receive byes into the second rounds.  Lets take a look at the draw...

Victoria Azarenka
QUARTER 1 - V.Azarenka (1) v S.Errani (6)
The Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka headlines the draw in Doha and should quite comfortably make the semi-finals.  Her first match of the tournament will be against either Tsvetana Pironkova or Romina Oprandi, and her first seeded opponent could be Lucie Safarova in round three.  Safarova could meet Christina McHale in the second round with both players having lost more matches than they have won on the main tour this year.  I think this a good draw for McHale, who made the quarters in Doha last year and has beaten Safarova in their only previous meeting in Melbourne in 2012.

Sara Errani continues to take advantage of her top eight seeding and should make the quarter-finals with her draw.  The Italian takes on Heidi El-Tabakh or Timea Babos in the second round.  In the third round, she is projected to meet newly crowned Pattaya City champion, Maria Kirilenko.  The Russian player has a terrible record against Errani and suffered a 6-1 6-1 beatdown when they played in Sydney last month.  Laura Robson and Daniela Hantuchova, who play each other in the first round, will be looking to spring the shock on Kirilenko in round two.  Robson nicked a set off Hantuchova when she played her at Wimbledon in her first Grand Slam main draw match in 2009; nearly four years on, I expect her to win this time round...

1st Round Predictions - Oprandi to beat Pironkova in 2 sets, McHale to beat Dushevina in 3 sets and Robson to beat Hantuchova in 3 sets

Moo's QF Prediction - Azarenka v Errani

QUARTER 2 - A.Radwanska (4) v A.Kerber (5)
Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber will headline a competitive second quarter in Doha.  Radwanska will face Anastasia Rodionova or Zheng Jie in the second round before a potential round-of-16 Australian Open rematch with Ana Ivanovic.  The Serbian number one was forced to pull out of the Fed Cup at the weekend with a shoulder complaint so I am not expecting much from her this week.  She takes on the out-of-form, Tamira Paszek in the first round.  Radwanska comfortably beat Ivanovic in Melbourne and if they did meet again, the Serb would have to be much more patient to get the W.

Kerber will have her work cut out to make the quarter-finals; she is likely to meet the in-form, Mona Barthel in round two.  Kerber missed Fed Cup action at the weekend and has been troubled with a worriying back injury.  Barthel is coming won the Paris title last weekend and appears to have an added edge to her game this year so I fancy can beat Kerber in round two.  Caroline Wozniacki is also in this section and could play Sorana Cirstea in the second round.  Wozniacki fell in the first round of Doha last year and I am really unsure of how she will get on here following an inconsistent start to the year.  Doha might help us to work out where her 2013 season is heading...

1st Round Predictions - Ivanovic to beat Paszek in 2 sets, Cirstea to beat Jabeur in 3 sets and Barthel to beat Putintseva in 2 very tight sets

Moo's QF Prediction - A.Radwanska v Barthel

QUARTER 3 - S.Stosur (8) v M.Sharapova (3)
Jelena Jankovic
The third quarter is the most intriguing with a host of experience and youth.  Maria Sharapova is playing Doha for the first time since 2008 where she took the title, beating Vera Zvonvareva in the final.  Sharapova could open against Caroline Garcia, who famously came close to an almighty shock win at Roland Garros in 2011.  Following a collapse in that match, Garcia has failed to deliver the promise she showed for a set and a half of that match.  The WTA's brightest prospect in 2013 so far, Sloane Stephens is also lurking.  The American will play her first match since making the semi-finals in Melbourne against Anna Tatishvili.  An all-American second round match with Varvara Lepchenko could await and then potentially, Sharapova in the third round.

Sam Stosur is projected to meet Sharapova in the quarters, but she will have to hit the ground running to get past some tough opponents following a dire start to 2013.  She meets the winner of Monica Niculescu and Jelena Jankovic in the second round.  Jankovic has made a reasonable start to the year and should have the beating of a dreadfully out-of-form Stosur, who will need to do well here to maintain her ranking as she made the Doha final last year.  Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is enjoying a resurgence in 2013, should make round two where she will meet the winner of the most intriguing of the first rounders between Francesca Schiavone and Marion Bartoli.  Bartoli has announced that she is no longer working with her father, a bold move, and one that a certain Dane should take note of!

1st Round Predictions - Jankovic to beat Niculescu in 2 sets, Bartoli to beat Schiavone in 2 tight sets and Lepchenko to beat Zakopalova in 3 sets

Moo's QF Prediction - Jankovic v Sharapova

QUARTER 4 - P.Kvitova (7) v S.Williams (2)
Petra Kvitova
Somewhat surprisingly, Serena Williams will resume her 2013 season in Doha.  Serena suffered a tough run at the Australian Open where a string of injuries saw her come undone to Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals. The world number two could take the coveted number one spot with a strong showing this week; her first projected seed is Roberta Vinci, who takes on Yanina Wickmayer in the opening round.

Petra Kvitova has looked a shadow from her Grand Slam winning performance days of 2011 as she fell in the second round of the Australian Open in a heartbreaker to Laura Robson.  She did manage to win her two Fed Cup matches this weekend, but her shaky confidence can only be rebuilt over time.  She plays the winner of a first round match-up between Carla Suarez Navarro and Ekaterina Makarova.  If Kvitova gets past her first challenge, she could meet Nadia Petrova, who has yet to win a match in 2013.  This has come as a big surprise because she ended 2012 in  such fine form, but it could be down to the loss of Carlos Sanchez as her coach.  Anyway, this is a great opportunity for Kvitova to make the quarters...

1st Round Predictions - Suarez Navarro to beat Makarova in 3 sets, Petrova to beat Hlavackova in 2 sets and Vinci to beat Wickmayer in 3 sets

Moo's QF Prediction - Kvitova v S.Williams

Final Prediction - Maria Sharapova d. Victoria Azarenka
This week, I fancy Maria Sharapova to triumph in Doha.  I am really surprised that Serena is playing in Doha because of the injuries she picked up at the Australian Open, which finished just two weeks ago.   I do not think this week will be high on her priority list.  Azarenka has a cakewalk to the final, assuming she can dispose of Radwanska in the same battering authority she did in 2012.  Azarenka has not been tested in 2013 and when a big shot does appear in the final, I think she will fall just short of the mark...

You can view my full predictions for Doha HERE


  1. Nice analysis but a bold prediction taking Kvitova against Serena and then Sharapova. However, I do agree that this week might not be high on her priority and she may pull off at any time.

  2. Serena is a difficult one to call for this week following the Australian Open so I thought I would take a chance and go for Sharapova. I hope Kvitova matches my prediction of reaching the quarter-finals, but her 2013 form certainly makes it questionable.

  3. Can definitly see Kvitova or Sharapova over Serena this week but feel Azarenka has will have the beating over either of them. Also think Barthel and Wozniacki will make strong runs.