Friday, 1 February 2013

WTA Paris, Pattaya City: Semi-Final Predictions

Sorana Cirstea
1. Sorana Cirstea v Maria Kirilenko (Pattaya City, SF)
Maria Kirilenko and Sorana Cirstea will meet at the semi-final stage in Pattaya for the second consecutive year after both won their quarter-finals in straight sets.  Kirilenko had the toughest match today as she fought for over two hours to get past the in-form Elena Vesnina, 7-6 6-3, meanwhile  Cirstea enjoyed a comprehensive win over the qualifier, Anastasiya Sevastova, 6-3 6-0.  It was a tough loss for Sevastova, but she had a great week and it is pleasing  to see her back on the tour following many months away with injury.  Cirstea and Kirilenko played out a fantastic match in Pattaya last year where Kirilenko prevailed in three sets.  She enjoyed a more straightforward 6-3 6-1 win in their last match at Wimbledon.  I fancy Kirilenko to make it a hattrick of wins over Cirstea.

Prediction - Kirilenko to beat Cirstea in 2 tight sets 

2. Mona Barthel v Kristina Mladenovic (Paris, SF)
Mona Barthel produced a great performance to edge Marion Bartoli in a tight two setter of a quarter-final, 7-6 6-4.  Both players had four set points in the first set, but it was Barthel who won the tiebreak after a crashing all-or-nothing winner at 7-7 in the breaker.  Barthel served extremely well and hit 43 winners to 23 unforced errors but her semi-final opponent, Kristina Mladenovic will be unfazed by Barthel's form because she is enjoying her best ever week on the WTA tour.  Mladenovic completed a trio of upsets with her first top 10 win against Petra Kvitova to add to impressive victories over Julia Goerges (in round one) and Yanina Wickmayer (in round two).  Both players hit hard and rely on their serve, which have been particularly potent indoors this week.  This will be a tight, tight match with little to separate their games...
Prediction - Barthel to beat Mladenovic in 3 very tight sets

3. Sabine Lisicki v Nina Bratchikova (Pattaya City, SF)
Sabine Lisicki
Pattaya City has seen a swing in fortunes for Sabine Lisicki who toughed out a 5-7 6-3 6-2 quarter-final win over Marina Erakovic, who had beaten Lisicki in their last encounter on the clay courts of Rome.  This is the first time since July that Lisicki has won three matches in a row and although this has been a great week up till now, I still think she has a long way to go to get back up towards the top 20 because the calibre of opponents she has played has been pretty weak in Pattaya. Lisicki now plays Nina Bratchikova, who beat Ayumi Morita in three sets.  This should be a walk in the park for Lisicki and a prime opportunity to make the final, a first final since August 2011 when she won in Dallas.  Her form over the past year would make any opponent seem like a challenge, but once Lisicki gets on a roll and gains some momentum, she is tough to stop...

Prediction - Lisicki to beat Bratchikova in 2 sets

4. Sara Errani v Kiki Bertens (Paris, SF)
Sara Errani enjoyed her best win of the season so far as she extinguished a match point in a 3 hour revenge win over Carla Suarez Navarro, 7-5 4-6 7-5.  She now takes on the young Kiki Bertens, who was essentially given a free pass into the semi-finals by Lucie Safarova in a 6-1 7-5 error-laden affair.  I thought Safarova may build on that terrific performance in the Fed Cup final last year, but she has started poorly in 2013.   Bertens meanwhile, continues to go from strength to strength, and should be a top 30, perhaps top 20 player soon.  Errani won their only previous encounter in s'Hertogenbsoch in 2011, which Errani won in two sets.  Bertens has improved her game a lot since then, but I still fancy Errani to make the final.

Prediction - Errani to beat Bertens in 2 tight sets

My original predictions for Paris and Pattaya have been nothing short of a disaster, but I did correctly predict the outcome of all the Paris quarters yesterday including upset wins for Barthel, Bertens and Mladenovic.


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