Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Carlsbad & Washington, Wednesday's Ones to Watch: Azarenka-Schiavone, Petkovic-Barthel

1. Victoria Azarenka v Francesca Schiavone (Carlsbad, R2)
Victoria Azarenka
2013 has been a bit of a rollercoaster year for Victoria Azarenka.  The first few months could not have been much better for Vika as she claimed her second Australian Open title in January and earnt a win over the world number one, Serena Williams in Doha.  However since Indian Wells, Azarenka has been a dealt a number of injuries that have halted her progress.  Carlsbad marks another return from injury, this time after a bad fall at Wimbledon that forced her to pull out of the tournament before her second round match.  

First up is Francesca Schiavone, who came through a crazy opening round match with fellow Italian, Flavia Pennetta, 7-6(4) 6-7(6) 6-4 in a match two minutes shy of the three hour mark.  The first set featured 12 consecutive breaks of serve, a feat I have not witnessed since I started following tennis closely.  They last met at Roland Garros where Azarenka was emphatic in victory and although there will be rust for sure, I do not think Schiavone has the beating of Azarenka here. 

Prediction - Azarenka to beat Schiavone in 2 sets

2. Andrea Petkovic v Mona Barthel (WTA Washington, R2)
An all-German affair tops the bill on the ladies side in Washington as the resurgent Andrea Petkovic takes on the number six seed, Mona Barthel.  Like 2012, Barthel made a strong start to the season with a second WTA title in Paris, but a failure to perform well at the big events has prevented her from moving further up the rankings.  In round one, Barthel had her most convincing win in months as she defeated Stephanie Voegele, 6-2 6-2.  Petkovic is still finding her feet on the tour again and she beat the American qualifier, Jessica Pegula, 6-2 7-5 on Monday.  This will be a first career meeting and although Barthel is ahead in the rankings, Petkovic would be my favourite based on her superior consistency, even at this relatively early stage of her comeback.

Prediction - Petkovic to beat Barthel in 2 tight sets

3. Juan Martin del Potro v Ryan Harrison (ATP Washington, R2)
Del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro returns to action on Wednesday for the first time since that cracking semi-final at Wimbledon where pushed Novak Djokovic in a five set thriller.  His first opponent is Ryan Harrison, who earnt an impressive win over Lleyton Hewitt in the first round, 6-3 7-5.  Harrison has not had a great 2013 and is currently languishing at number 107 in the rankings.  However he has started to turn things around of late as he made the semi-finals in Atlanta last week.  Once again, he has a tough draw, but there are signs he is starting to come back.  In this one, I think DelPo will open with a win.

Prediction - Del Potro to beat Harrison in 2 tight sets

4. Petra Kvitova v  Laura Robson (Carlsbad, R2)
A quick addition to the preview for the first match today in Carlsbad, which will see an Australian Open rematch between Petra Kvitova and Laura Robson.  The Brit had a gruelling opener against Ayumi Morita as she rallied from a set down and within two points from losing the match to win, 4-6 7-5 6-2.  It was a solid win since Robson had lost to Morita when they last played in Oeiras.  This will be Kvitova's first match since Wimbledon where she lost to Kirsten Flipkens in the quarters.  She has posted on Twitter about working especially hard in the last three weeks and she will need to hit the ground running against Robson, who always raises her games for the top players.  It was Robson who edged out Kvitova in Melbourne in an error-strewn affair.  but I think Petra will just sneak this one...

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Robson in 3 tough sets

Best of the rest: WTA Carlsbad 2nd Round Predictions
Roberta Vinci to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands in 2 tight sets
Sam Stosur to beat Sesil Karatantcheva in 2 sets

Best of the rest: WTA Washington 2nd Round Predictions
Julien Benneteau to beat Mardy Fish in 3 sets
Ivan Dodig to beat Tobias Kamke in 2 tight sets
Radek Stepanek to beat Michael Llodra in 2 sets
John Isner to beat Alex Kuznetsov in 2 tight sets
Tommy Haas to beat Tim Smyczek in 2 sets
Kei Nishikori to beat Jack Sock in 3 sets
Gilles Simon to beat Dmitry Tursunov in 3 sets
Kevin Anderson to beat James Duckworth in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: WTA Washington 2nd Round Predictions
Angelique Kerber to beat Melanie Oudin in 2 sets
Magdalena Rybarikova to beat Jana Cepelova in 3 sets
Olga Puchkova to beat Paula Ormaechea in 2 sets

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

ATP Washington 2nd Round Predictions: Querrey-Istomin and Devvarman-Dolgopolov

Washington is certainly the tournament to follow tonight with five courts offering up quality mens and womens singles matches.  Where Carlsbad flourished last night with a string of compelling matches, today you would be pretty peeved if you had tickets for main stadium court with Laura Robson and Daniela Hantuchova the main highlights.  Anyway, the only second round matches on show tonight are from the mens draw in Washington...

1. Somdev Devvarman v Alexandr Dolgopolov
Alexandr Dolgopolov
Like Querrey, 2013 has not been a year to remember so far for Alexandr Dolgopolov.  The exciting Ukranian has tricks a-plenty, but he has really struggled on the tour to string results together and deliver consistent performances.  He has still shown flashes of brilliance; he pushed David Ferrer all the way in a five set thriller at Wimbledon, but when a chance emerges to beat one of the higher ranked players, he never seems to grasp it.  This week could be problematic since Dolgopolov is the defending champion and hence big ranking points will disappear from his ranking.  

His first match is against the qualifier, Somdev Devvarman, who comfortably saw off Rhyne Williams in the first round.  He has actually done alright on the hard courts this year, having made the 3rd round in Miami and with four matches under his belt, I fancy his chances against a struggling and confidence drained, Dolgopolov.

Prediction - Devvarman to beat Dolgopolov in 2 tight sets

2. Sam Querrey v Denis Istomin
All in all, it's been a pretty disappointing year so far for Sam Querrey; with a 18-15 W-L record in 2013, he has made just two semi-finals and has not beaten anyone inside the top 30 all year.  His first match is a testing one against Denis Istomin, who made the quarter-finals in Atlanta last week.  He beat Santiago Giraldo in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 yesterday.  Querrey leads the head-to-head by three wins to two with three of their five matches going the distance.  Querrey has always done well on the grass and the fact he made no impression this year is a sign he is struggling for form.  Istomin is pretty solid these days and can take his chances when an opening in the draw crops up...

Prediction - Istomin to beat Querrey in 3 sets

Best of the rest: 2nd Round Washington Prediction
Milos Raonic to beat Sam Groth in 2 tight sets
Bernard Tomic to beat David Goffin in 3 sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Xavier Malisse in 3 sets
Marinko Matosevic to beat Nikolay Davydenko in 2 tight sets
Lukas Lacko to beat Marcos Baghdatis in 2 sets

Sunday, 28 July 2013

WTA / ATP Washington: Preview and Predictions

The Citi Open in Washington D.C. is a joint event with interesting draws for both the ATP 500 and WTA International events.

ATP Washington
Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro will make his first appearance after a sensational semi-final performance at Wimbledon where he pushed Novak Djokovic all the way in a classic.  The injuries that he picked up at Wimbledon were not serious and it is very positive to see him back in action so soon.  I strongly believe that Del Potro is going to be one of the names battling for the US Open, but for some reason I think he could struggle this week.  His particularly tricky draw opens against the winner of the toughest first round match between Houston semi-finalists, Lleyton Hewitt and Ryan Harrison.  Hewitt, very much like David Ferrer with his tireless retrieving, has always caused Del Potro problems and he won their most recent match at Queens earlier this year.  Del Potro's first projected seed is Bernard Tomic, a player who could upset the Argentine's rhythm.

Tommy Haas heads up the second quarter and definitely will be the favourite to make the semi-finals from this section.  Haas came up second best to Fabio Fognini in both his appearances after Wimbledon in Germany.  He has played a lot of tennis this year, but should be fresh having not played last week.  His first test is likely to come in the third round where he is seeded to meet Ivan DodigGrigor Dimitrov and Sam Querrey are set to meet in the third round of the Citi Open, but both have been playing below par in recent months.  Since beating Djokovic in Madrid, Dimitrov has really struggled to live with the increasing hype that has surrounded his matches on tour.  He fell early at Wimbledon and I cannot see him surviving long in D.C. with Denis Istomin my shout out for a surprise showing in the quarter-final.

John Isner
Another player who has not been able to make any inroads in the big tournaments is Milos Raonic.  Long hyped as someone that could do well on the grass, Raonic endured a torrid June where he won just one match on the grass.  Back on the hard courts, I expect him to reach the latter stages of this draw although I would not back him as a champion.  Gilles Simon was twice undone by Feliciano Lopez on the grass and should have more joy on the hard courts.  A third round clash with a serve-and-volleyer is a possibility with former Washington champion, Radek Stepanek likely to take on Michael Llodra in the second round.

The final quarter hosts Kei Nishikori and John Isner.  Nishikori has had a very consistent year, but did not perform well at Wimbledon as he fell in a tight five setter to Andreas Seppi.  His first match will be against either Jack Sock or Igor Sijsling; Sock's best results have always come on home soil, meanwhile Sijsling has had some good results on the tour this year including a win over Raonic at Wimbledon.  Last year's champion, Alexandr Dolgopolov has been in really poor form this year, but will face a qualifier in his first match and if he can get through that, a match with Isner in round three would be a possibility.

1st Round Predictions: Hewitt to beat Harrison in 2 tight sets, Lu to beat Goffin in 3 sets, Malisse to beat Ram in 2 sets, Istomin to beat Giraldo in 3 sets, Stepanek to beat Johnson in 2 sets, Blake to beat Matosevic in 3 sets and Sock to beat Sijsling in 3 sets

Moo's Final Prediction: Nishikori d. Haas

WTA Washington
Angelique Kerber
The womens line-up in Washington continues to improve year-on-year and has attracted Angelique Kerber amongst a selection of the talented American crew.  Kerber plays a qualifier in the first round and could meet last year's champion, Magdalena Rybarikova in the quarter-finals.  It was always going to be difficult for Kerber to reach the epic heights of her 2012 season, but I do not feel her game has considerably weakened.  Yes, she has become a tad more defensive, but where she was sneaking out the wins last year, she has just been coming up short.  She was unlucky at Wimbledon where she played a pretty great match for two sets before falling to an inspired Kaia Kanepi.

Ekaterina Makarova plays the most intriguing of the first rounders against the young Canadian, Eugenie Bouchard.  Makarova can be very hit and miss these days and I see an upset in this match.  Madison Keys started really well in Stanford, but suffered a disappointing loss to Vera Dushevina in the second round.  I think she will do much better this week with a qualifier up first.

Sloane Stephens
Sorana Cirstea and Alize Cornet are the two seeds in the third section.  Cornet takes on Yanina Wickmayer in the first round, who continues to stutter.  She has a very solid, albeit one-dimensional game, but should be much higher than her current ranking of 56.  Cornet has become a  consistent performer on the tour and should have the beating of Wickmayer based on recent form.  Cirstea played three good matches in Stanford, but took a step backwards with a 6-4 6-0 defeat to Dominika Cibulkova in the semi-finals.  Despite all her inconsistencies, she is my tip for the final this week with a very reasonable looking draw.

Sloane Stephens is the number two seed and her game looks to be in a pretty good place following a mid-season slump, which has been well and truly forgotten with a 4th round showing at Roland Garros and a quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon.  She takes on Olga Puchkova in the first round, who will be no pushover.  Mona Barthel has declared herself fit following an early exit in Bad Gastein where she was struggling with a shoulder injury.  Her first rounder against Stefanie Voegele is not one I anticipate her winning.  Andrea Petkovic should make the quarter-finals where Sloane could await.  They last played at Wimbledon in a forgotten gem, which Sloane won 8-6 in the decider.

1st Round Predictions: Rybarikova to beat McHale in 3 sets, Bouchard to beat Makarova in 2 sets, Garcia to beat Tatishvili in 2 tight sets, Townsend to beat Niculescu in 3 sets, Cirstea to beat Tsurenko in 2 tight sets, Cornet to beat Wickmayer in 3 sets and Voegele to beat Barthel in 2 sets

Moo's Final Prediction: Kerber d. Cirstea

WTA Carlsbad: Preview and Predictions

Ana Ivanovic
Stanford has barely attracted my attention this week, but I am looking forward to next week's star studded line-up in Carlsbad where Victoria Azarenka will make her return from injury following a turbulent Wimbledon where an injury in her first round match of Wimbledon against Maria Joao Koehler forced her to pull out of her second round match.  Let's take a look at the draw where the top four seeds all have byes.

Victoria Azarenka's first match of the tournament will be against an Italian; Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone will meet for the eighth time on the WTA tour.  Schiavone won their last match in Indian Wells and I think she has the edge this time round as well.  Azarenka is projected to meet Jelena Jankovic in the quarter-finals.  JJ plays Mallory Burdette in the first round, who had her chances in Stanford last week, but was unable to get past Schiavone in the first round.

Roberta Vinci and Ana Ivanovic headline the second quarter of the draw.  Vinci takes on the winner of a first round match between two players who have both shone at times during 2013, Monica Puig and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.  Ivanovic has a tough draw, opening against Stanford finalist, Dominika Cibulkova, who she is 0-2 against in the head-to-head.  Ivanovic has just split with her coach, Nigel Sears and I fear that the US Open series is not going to be a great time for her.  In fact, I could see her losing to Cibulkova in her opener.

Petra Kvitova has tweeted that she has been working especially hard over the past three weeks and she will need to be on the ball because she is defending a large number of points having won the titles in Montreal and New Haven last year.  It is possible she could meet Laura Robson in the second round, which would be hilarious.  Their last match at the Australian Open, which Laura won 11-9 in the decider, was not a classic.  Robson though will have get to past Ayumi Morita in the first round, who she did lost to in Oeiras earlier this year.  Former Carlsbad champion and returning-from-injury, Svetlana Kuznetsova has a good draw and should meet Carla Suarez Navarro in round two.

Agnieszka Radwanska bookends the draw as she continues her tireless pursuit of points.  First up will be either Daniela Hantuchova or Tamira Paszek before a potential quarter-final with Sam Stosur.  The Aussie looked way off the pace in her first match in Stanford and will look to improve against Varvara Lepchenko in Carlsbad.

Moo's Final Prediction - V.Azarenka d. A.Radwanska
I have not gone for a great deal of shocks this week in my Carlsbad predictions.  I expect Azarenka not to be at her best, but there are no players in the draw who I see giving her a great deal of problems.  I would have gone for Kvitova to win the title, but the conditions here are hot and she is still incredibly unpredictable so I will be eager to see how she gets on this week.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

WTA Stanford Semi-Final Predictions: Radwanska-Hampton and Cibulkova-Cirstea

One day after the news of Viktor Troicki hit the tennis headlines, there are rumours that Marin Cilic failed a doping test in Munich.  A few sources from Croatia have reported this, but it has yet to be confirmed.

Agnieszka Radwanska v Jamie Hampton
Jamie Hampton
After watching their most recent match-up live, I am most intrigued by this semi-final between Agnieszka Radwanska and Jamie Hampton.  Radwanska had a tough three setter against Varvara Lepchenko last night and was pictured practising after her match seemingly unhappy with her performance despite the win.  Hampton was much more solid compared to her second round match as she beat Vera Dushevina in straight sets.  In Eastbourne, Hampton won in straight sets and played a fine match, triumphing against Radwanska at her own game with tons of variety.  Radwanska though did not offer up anything special and having played a few matches in Stanford, albeit not particualrly well, I have a feeling Radwanska will sneak out of this one...

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Hampton in 3 tight sets

Sorana Cirstea v Dominika Cibulkova
Last year they met in the Stanford quarter-finals and this time, it's the semi-finals where Dominika Cibulkova and Sorana Cirstea will meet.  Cibulkova has had her best tournament since January with two solid wins over Stefanie Voegele and Urszula Radwanska.  Cirstea has also been surprisingly solid and is yet to drop a set.  For sure, that does not mean this will be a solid match! Last year, Cirstea prevailed in three sets having lost an odd first set where she successfully challenged a string of bad line calls.  This is not an easy one to call again, but I fancy Cirstea's chances...

Prediction - Cirstea to beat Cibulkova in 3 sets

ATP Gstaad Final Prediction - Mikhail Youzhny to beat Robin Haase in 2 tight sets

Friday, 26 July 2013

WTA Stanford Quarter-Final Predictions: It's a Radwanska Special

Today was a pretty shocking day of predictions as what had been a really solid week in Gstaad, went down the pan with Stanislas Wawrinka retiring to Feliciano Lopez and my semi-final tip, Marcel Granollers falling in a tight three setter to Robin Haase.  The big news yesterday was Victor Troicki, who strangely I had predicted to make the Umag final, being banned for 18 months after failing to give a blood sample in Monte-Carlo because he was feeling unwell.  You can read his response on his website here.  Troicki is set to appeal and I think there is a lot more to come out from this story.  Anyway, here goes with my predictions for the Stanford quarter-finals.

1. Agnieszka Radwanska v Varvara Lepchenko
Aga Radwanska
Six of the eight seeds have made the quarter-finals in Stanford, but I cannot help feeling underwhelmed by the line-up.  The match of the day graces the night schedule as Agnieszka Radwanska takes on Varvara Lepchenko.  Radwanska overcame Francesca Schiavone in her first match on Wednesday night, 6-4 6-3.  Lepchenko won both her matches this week in straight sets against Michelle Larcher de Brito and Tamira Paszek, but required numerous match points in both.  Lepchenko is a very good player, but there have been so many occasions where she cannot close out leads and / or loses concentration in epic proportions.  Radwanska leads the head-to-head with 3 wins to 0 and this should be a fourth...

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Lepchenko in 2 tight sets

2. Dominika Cibulkova v Urszula Radwanska
Ula Radwanska
There have been several occasions over the past couple of years where Dominika Cibulkova has really threatened to break through and become a legitimate threat on the WTA tour.  2013 though has been a really quiet year for the Slovak and since the final of Sydney where she was blown away by the sister of her opponent today in a double bagel rout, she has made just one quarter-final all year.  Yesterday, Cibulkova enjoyed a rare solid win over Stefanie Voegele, 7-5 7-6(5).  Urszula Radwanska is likely to offer up another tough match.  She beat Daniela Hantuchova in a very tight two setter on Thursday.  The head-to-head is even at 2-2 and Urszula won their most recent match in Oeiras, a predictably tight three setter.  So what to expect from this one? Lots of breaks, lots of changes in momentum and surely three sets.

Prediction - Cibulkova to beat U.Radwanska in 3 sets

Best of the rest: WTA Stanford quarter-final predictions
Jamie Hampton to beat Vera Dushevina in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Gstaad semi-final predictions
Mikhail Youzhny to beat Victor Hanescu in 2 tight sets
Robin Haase to beat Feliciano Lopez in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP Umag semi-final predictions
*To be posted later*

Best of the rest: ATP Atlanta quarter-final predictions
John Isner to beat James Blake in 2 tight sets
Ryan Harrison to beat Santiago Giraldo in 3 sets
Kevin Anderson to beat Denis Istomin in 2 tight sets

Previews for Carlsbad and Washington DC coming your way on Sunday...

Thursday, 25 July 2013

WTA Stanford, ATP Gstaad: Friday's Ones to Watch including Monaco-Youzhny

This week has felt pretty dead on the tennis tour and I am yet to sit down and watch any live tennis since Wimbledon.  I believe there is a stream for Stanford online, but I find it hard to enjoy watching tennis when you can barely see the ball.  The big news today was Roger Federer suffering another disappointing loss, this time to Daniel Brands, who throughly deserves this big win following a very solid 2013.  Fed fans do not dispair just yet; I think the Swiss maestro was struggling with back spasms and may have just played today to honour his commitment to the tournament.  Still a worry, but if anyone can turn it around, it's Federer.  Let's look at Thursday's top matches...

The last points of Federer-Brands in Gstaad

1. Juan Monaco v Mikhail Youzhny (Gstaad, QF)
Roger Federer's exit will certainly make the winner of this quarter-final the favourite to make the final from the top half.  Juan Monaco has enjoyed some a solid few weeks back on the clay and he waltzed past Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in his only match so far in Gstaad, 6-1 6-2.  Mikhail Youzhny has not been at his best this week as he was pushed to three sets in both matches played, but he remains a dangerous player on any surface.  Monaco and Youzhny are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head; Monaco won their first encounter on the clay in 2009, but Youzhny won their most recent encounter at Wimbledon two years ago.  Monaco is a really solid competitor on this surface and he would be my tip to win this match.

Prediction - Monaco to beat Youzhny in 3 sets

2. Urszula Radwanska v Daniela Hantuchova (Stanford, R2)
Daniela Hantuchova
Stanford's draw has really struggled to attract much attention this week and I am looking forward to both Carlsbad and Washington next week, which have far more intriguing line-ups.  The best match-up in Stanford tonight will see Urszula Radwanska try and follow her sister, Agnieszka into the quarter-finals.  She takes on the Birmingham champion, Daniela Hantuchova, who beat Yanina Wickmayer in 3 sets, which included a third set bagel on Tuesday.  Radwanska had a straightforward opener with a 6-1 6-3 victory against Christina McHale.  Hantuchova leads the head-to-head by 2 wins to 1, but lost their last match-up on the hard courts of Carlsbad last year.  Radwanska is the higher ranked player, but having watched Hantuchova at Birmingham, I still think she can compete with the best of them.  It is just dealing with her game when she's on an off-day that is the worry...

Prediction - Hantuchova to beat U.Radwanska in 3 sets

3. Albert Montanes v Gael Monfils (Umag, QF)
I predicted an early exit for the top seed in Umag, Richard Gasquet, but I did not anticipate him to lose at the first hurdle to Albert Montanes, who won his first match over the Frenchman in six attempts.  Montanes now takes on Gael Monfils, who has a great chance of making the final this week, certainly if the in-form Fabio Fognini pulls up early.  Monfils has enjoyed two straight set wins this week and has proved his credentials on the clay this year.  Montanes has had a quiet year overall although he did have a great week in Nice where he won the title beating Monfils in the final.  In that match, Montanes  dished out a bagel to Monfils, but I fancy the flamboyant Frenchman to come out on top in this encounter.

Prediction - Monfils to beat Montanes in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: WTA Stanford 2nd round predictions
Jamie Hampton to beat Nicole Gibbs in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Madison Keys to beat Vera Dushevina in 2 sets
Dominika Cibulkova to beat Stefanie Voegele in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Gstaad quarter-final predictions
Daniel Brands to beat Victor Hanescu in 2 tight sets
Marcel Granollers to beat Robin Haase in 2 tight sets
Stanislas Wawrinka to beat Feliciano Lopez in 2 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Umag quarter-final predictions
Fabio Fognini to beat Martin Klizan in 2 tight sets
Tommy Robredo to beat Aljaz Bedene in 2 sets
Andreas Seppi to beat Horacio Zeballos in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Atlanta quarter-final predictions
Igor Sijsling to beat Ryan Harrison in 3 sets
James Blake to beat Evgeny Donskoy in 2 sets
John Isner to beat Christian Harrison in 2 tight sets
Denis Istomin to beat Yen-Hsun Lu in 2 sets
Michael Russell to beat Santiago Giraldo in 3 sets
Kevin Anderson to beat Matt Ebden in 2 tight sets

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

WTA Stanford, ATP Gstaad 2nd Round Predictions: Radwanska-Schiavone and more

1. Agnieszka Radwanska v Francesca Schiavone (Stanford, R2)
Francesca Schiavone
Stanford has just three singles matches today and I feeling a little flat with tennis proceedings this week.  The match of the day (whilst I am fast asleep) will see 2013 Wimbledon semi-finalist, Agnieszka Radwanska take on Francesca Schiavone.  This will be Aga's first match since losing a heartbreaker to Sabine Lisicki and she has a chance to consolidate her ranking because she really fell away at this stage in 2012.  Schiavone has steadied the ship in the last few months and came from behind in both sets of her first round match to beat Mallory Burdette, 7-5 6-3.  Schiavone leads the head-to-head, but Radwanska has won their last three matches and all handily, in 2011.  Radwanska all the way...

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Schiavone in 2 sets

2. Marcel Granollers v Federico Delbonis (Gstaad, R2)
I wrote a preview for Federer-Brands last week so I thought that I would a pick out a different match and the one between Marcel Granollers and Federico Delbonis should be an interesting one.  Delbonis made the final in Hamburg and beat the defending champion (albeit returning from injury) Thomasz Bellucci in a tight two setter in their first round match.  Granollers upset Lukas Rosol, 6-2 6-4, who has not been playing well of late and lost his last 5 matches on the ATP tour.  I just found out from looking on the ATP tour that Rosol is 28 years old, which I never knew! This will be a first career match-up between Granollers and Delbonis and I fancy that Granollers will be the fresher and stronger of the pair.

Prediction - Granollers to beat Delbonis in 3 sets

Best of the rest: Stanford 2nd Round Predictions *For Thursday*
Varvara Lepchenko to beat Tamira Paszek in 3 sets
Sorana Cirstea to beat Coco Vandeweghe in 3 sets

Best of the rest: Gstaad 2nd Round Predictions
Roger Federer to beat Daniel Brands in 2 tight sets
Roberto Bautista-Agut to beat Victor Hanescu in 2 tight sets
Janko Tipsarevic to beat Robin Haase in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: Umag 2nd Round Predictions
Victor Troicki to beat Tommy Robredo in 3 sets
Alexandr Dolgopolov to beat Aljaz Bedene in 2 sets
Carlos Berlocq to beat Horacio Zeballos in 2 sets
Andreas Seppi to beat Andreas Haider-Maurer in 2 sets

Best of the rest: Atlanta 2nd Round Predictions
Lleyton Hewitt to beat Rhyne Williams in 2 tight sets

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Stanford, Gstaad & Umag 2nd Round Predictions: Stosur-Govortsova, Youzhny-Andujar

1. Sam Stosur v Olga Govortsova (Stanford, R2)
Sam Stosur
The 1st round will conclude on Tuesday in Stanford along with the first second round match in the night session, which will see Sam Stosur makes her first appearance since Wimbledon against Olga Govortsova.  The Belarusian defeated a heavily slumping Julia Goerges, 7-6(2) 6-2 in the first main draw match from this year's Stanford tournament.  I imagine Stosur will be a little rusty to begin with, having had a bye into the second round, but I think she will be a threat over the next couple of months leading up to the US Open and I expect her to win here.

Prediction - Stosur to beat Govortsova in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

2. Mikhail Youzhny v Pablo Andujar (Gstaad, R2)
After an early exit in Hamburg, Mikhail Youzhny recovered with a three set win in his first round match in Switzerland over Paul-Henri Mathieu, 6-3 4-6 6-2.  Youzhny had a terrific run on the grass, making the final in Halle and reaching the last 16 of Wimbledon where he was knocked out by the eventual champion, Andy MurrayPablo Andujar enjoyed a rare victory, progressing 6-1 6-2 past the Romanina qualifier, Victor Crivoi, 6-1 6-2.  Andujar has had a pretty dire year apart from two weeks in May where he made back-to-back semi-finals in Madrid and Nice.  Youzhny beat Andujar at Roland Garros this year and although I think this will go the distance, I predict that Youzhny will reach the quarters.

Prediction - Youzhny to beat Andujar in 3 sets

3. Richard Gasquet v Albert Montanes (Umag, R2)
The top seed in Umag, Richard Gasquet, plays his first match on Wednesday against the Spaniard, Albert Montanes.  Gasquet had a bye in the first round, meanwhile Montanes defeated Dusan Lajovic, 7-6(3) 6-1.  This is Montanes's best surface, but he has a 0-5 head-to-head record against Gasquet and although I question Gasquet's motivation this week, I think the Frenchman will come through this one comfortably.

Prediction - Gasquet to beat Montanes in 2 sets

Best of the rest: Gstaad 2nd Round Predictions
Monaco to beat Garcia-Lopez in 3 sets
Lopez to beat Kuznetsova in 2 tight sets
Wawrinka to beat Gimeno-Traver in 2 sets

Best of the rest: Umag 2nd Round Predictions
Fognini to beat De Bakker in 2 sets
Klizan to beat Leo. Mayer in 3 sets
Monfils to beat Kavcic in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: Stanford 2nd Round Predictions
Lepchenko to beat Paszek in 2 tight sets
Cirstea to beat Vandeweghe in 3 sets

Sunday, 21 July 2013

WTA Stanford: Preview and Predictions

Jamie Hampton
Stanford begins the hard court march to the US Open for the women with Agnieszka Radwanska and Sam Stosur heading up a depleted field.  A few weeks ago, the line-up boasted all of the Wimbledon semi-finalists, but one-by-one, Marion Bartoli, Sabine Lisicki and Kirsten Flipkens along with the highest ranked player to originially commit, Maria Sharapova have all pulled out of the tournament.  The draw doesn't envoke much excitement where the top 4 seeds all have byes into the second round.

Agnieszka Radwanska will begin her summer campaign on the hard courts against the winner of an intriguing first round match between Mallory Burdette and Francesca Schiavone.  Burdette made her first appearance on the WTA tour last year at Stanford and since turning pro after an excellent US Open, the American has gone from strength to strength.  Schiavone, who was rumoured to be retiring after the US Open, will be a tough opener, particularly as the Italian has been playing much better over the last two months. 

Jamie Hampton and Magdalena Rybarikova are projected to meet in the second quarter.  Rybarikova faces the rising American, Madison Keys in the first round.  Rybarikova thumped Keys on the grass courts of Birmingham, a place that Rybarikova always delivers her very best tennis.  I would fancy Keys to avenge that defeat though and make the quarter-finals in Stanford.  Another player who is making big inroads on the tour is Hampton, who has a good draw this week and could get another shot at Radwanska in the semi-finals, who she defeated in Eastbourne.

Sam Stosur
The third section of the draw is most open with a lot of players all quite evenly matched.  The number three seed, Dominika Cibulkova has been extremely quiet through the last couple of months and will be losing her finals points from Carlsbad soon.  Cibulkova will take on Ajla Tomljanovic or Stefanie Voegele in the first round.  The first rounders in this section are all tough to call; Urszula Radwanska up against Christina McHale and Yanina Wickmayer playing Daniela Hantuchova could both go either way.  I like Tomljanovic's chances this week, who had an excellent run on the hard courts of Miami earlier this year.

Sam Stosur is the number two seed and will play Julia Goerges or Olga Govortsova in the second round.  Stosur's 2013 has been nothing to write home about; she struggled with a calf injury through March and April, but looked fully recovered in Rome where she pushed Victoria Azarenka to 3 sets in their quarter-final.  Since then, her form has been solid yet unspectacular.  Sorana Cirstea is a projected quarter-final opponent although watch out for Ayumi Morita in round one, who has already beaten Cirstea this year.

1st Round Predictions: Schiavone to beat Burdette in 3 sets, Gibbs to beat Bertens in 2 tight sets, Keys to beat Rybarikova in 3 sets, McHale to beat U.Radwanska in 3 sets, Hantuchova to beat Wickmayer in 2 sets, Tomljanovic to beat Voegele in 2 sets, Morita to beat Cirstea in 3 sets and Goerges to beat Govortsova in 3 sets

Moo's Final Prediction: Radwanska d. Stosur

There is also a WTA tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan this week headlined by Bojana Jovanovski and Donna Vekic, which I will not have time to follow.  You can view my full predictions for Stanford HERE.

ATP Gstaad, Atlanta, Umag: Preview and Predictions

Here goes a quick round-up of the draws for next week's ATP tournaments in Gstaad (Switzerland), Umag (Croatia) and Atlanta (USA).

ATP Gstaad
Roger Federer
The best draw of the week comes from Gstaad where the top two Swiss players, Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka headline their home event.  Federer had a tough week in Hamburg where he was pushed to three sets by Daniel Brands (R2) and Florian Mayer (QF) before suffering a surprise defeat to Federico Delbonis in the semi-finals.  He could once again, open up against Brands in round two and is likely to meet Ricardo Bautista-Agut in the quarter-finals.  Juan Monaco and Mikhail Youzhny are the other two seeds in this section, most likely battling to meet Federer in the semi-finals.

Wawrinka has looked pretty hot on the clay this year and should face few problems in making at least the quarter-finals.  The third seed, Janko Tipsarevic, continues to struggle this year and will once again, not be a safe bet on making it past the quarter-finals.  This week's Hamburg finalist, Delbonis has a reasonable draw as he looks to repeat his success with Thomasz Bellucci in the first round; however I think Marcel Granollers has a good shot at making the semi-finals with the out-of-form, Lukas Rosol up first.

1st Round Predictions: Brands to beat Chiudinelli in 2 tight sets, Granollers to beat Rosol in 2 sets, Delbonis to beat Bellucci in 3 sets and Stakhovsky to beat Kuznetsov in 3 sets

Moo's Final Prediction: Wawrinka d. Federer

ATP Umag
Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet headlines the Umag draw as he has taken the odd decision to go back to the clay courts for just this week.  He has a tough draw and I cannot see him having much motivation to do well this week; Florian Mayer or Gael Monfils will be a significant test in the quarter-finals.  Fabio Fognini is playing his third tournament in a row and having won his first two titles back-to-back in Stuttgart and Hamburg, I wonder if he will have enough in the tank to do the treble.  His draw is convincing though so I would back him to make the semi-finals.

Andreas Seppi and Alexandr Dolgopolov are the highest seeds in the bottom half, which looks paper thin in quality.  Tommy Robredo is also in this section, but he hasn't won a match since Wimbledon.  Victor Troicki has looked more solid of late and Bastad finalist, Carlos Berlocq, will also be once to watch in Croatia.

1st Round Predictions: Monfils to beat Pavic in 2 sets, Ramos to beat Mayer in 2 tight sets, Lorenzi to beat Klizan in 3 sets, Hajek to beat Robredo in 3 sets and Troicki to beat Veic in 2 tight sets

Moo's Final Prediction: F.Mayer d. Troicki

ATP Atlanta
John Isner
The first hard court event in America this summer will see the usual clan arrive in Atlanta.  I just cannot get excited by this draw, which features little depth, but does host Mardy Fish, who is playing his first match since Indian Wells when he made a brief comeback to the tour.  John Isner is here along with Kevin Anderson and both would be my picks to make the final.  I like to hunt out a few dark horses in the draw, but I am really struggling with this one.  Lleyton Hewitt, who had a great run on the grass, will be one to watch and could meet Isner in the semi-finals.

1st Round Predictions: Falla to beat Harrison in 3 sets, Ram to beat Donskoy in 2 sets, Kudla to beat Williams in 3 sets, Hewitt to beat Roger-Vasselin in 3 sets, Fish to beat Russell in 3 sets, Sock to beat Giraldo in 3 sets and Harrison to beat Matosevic in 2 tight sets

Moo's Final Prediction: Isner d. Anderson

Hamburg, Bastad, Bad Gastein & Bogota Finals: That's a wrap!

Serena Williams
All four finals took place on Sunday with Fabio Fognini, Serena Williams, Yvonne Meusburger and Ivo Karlovic in the winners circle.  Fognini won his second title in two weeks as he completed the Stuttgart-Hamburg double with a come-from-behind win, which included saving three match points against Federico Delbonis, 4-6 7-6(8) 6-2.  Both finalists had really great weeks and Fognini will now break the top 20.  Serena won her first WTA tour International event as she defeated home favourite, Johanna Larsson, 6-4 6-1.  

Yvonne Meusburger will now crack the top 60 as she won her first ever WTA title in Bad Gastein, a tournament she has reached at least the quarter-finals of in all seven appearances, with a straight sets win over Andrea Hlavackova in the final.  And finally a massive heads up to Ivo Karlovic, who having been diagnosed with viral meningitis earlier this year, took the title in Bogota in just his second week back on the tour... that is an incredible achievement and one of the most uplifting stories of the year for sure.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

ATP Hamburg, WTA Bastad Finals Predictions: Fognini-Delbonis, Serena-Larsson

Busy weekend so just a quick preview of tomorrow's finals...

Fabio Fognini v Federico Delbonis (Hamburg, F)
Fabio Fognini
It certainly came as a major surprise to see Roger Federer and his new racquet bundled out of the Hamburg semi-finals by the qualifier, Federico Delbonis.  In the final, he takes on the in-form, Fabio Fognini, who defeated Nicolas Almagro in straight sets today.  Fognini is looking to complete the German double having won Stuttgart and despite Delbonis's stunning week, Fognini has to be the favourite.

Prediction - Fognini to beat Delbonis in 2 tight sets

Serena Williams v Johanna Larsson (Bastad, F)
Credit to Johanna Larsson, who has had a fantastic week in front of her home crowd and on her favoured surface of clay.  However I do not think she stands a chance against Serena, who is trying to win her first ever WTA International title.

Prediction - Serena to beat Larsson in 2 sets

Andrea Hlavackova v Yvonne Meusburger (Bad Gastein, F)
A first time WTA champion will be crowned tomorrow in Bad Gastein.  Yvonne Meusburger made the final of Budapest last week and is having another fantastic week at her home tournament where she always plays well.  It has been great to see Andrea Hlavackova win some matches this week and she definitely has a good enough game to be higher in the rankings; however Meusburger looks to be tough to beat at the minute...

Prediction - Meusburger to beat Hlavackova in 3 sets

Friday, 19 July 2013

ATP Hamburg, WTA Bastad Semi-Final Predictions: Almagro-Fognini, Serena-Zakopalova

The US hard court season kicks into gear next week with the women in Stanford and the men in Atlanta along with three other tournaments.  Before then, we have semi-finals and finals to wrap up on this week's clay court tournaments.

Nicolas Almagro v Fabio Fognini (Hamburg, SF)
Nicolas Almagro
Fabio Fognini is enjoying a pretty fantastic couple of weeks having won his first title last week in Stuttgart and continuing his good form this week to make the semi-finals in Hamburg.  For the second week in a row, Fognini defeated Tommy Haas for the loss of 6 games and now takes on Nicolas Almagro in the semi-finals.  The Spaniard has had a solid week and took out Juan Monaco in a tight three setter as he recovered an early break in the third set to post a 4-6 6-0 6-3 victory.  

Almagro leads the head-to-head by 3 wins to 1, but they haven't played each other since 2009 when Fognini won in Bucharest.  Almagro would be the safe bet, but Fognini is on a real hot streak and although tiredness could be an issue, he has actually strolled through his three matches in Hamburg for the loss of no sets... let's go for Fabio.

Prediction - Fognini to beat Almagro in 3 sets

Serena Williams v Klara Zakopalova (Bastad, SF)
For an International event, Bastad's line-up has held up remarkably well, spearheaded by the world number one, Serena WilliamsKlara Zakopalova will no doubt provide her with the biggest test of this week.  Zakopalova often struggles against lower ranked players who she is expected to beat, but she has an impressive week (losing just 11 games) on top of an excellent year, excluding the clay court season where she was sidelined by allergies.  Serena han't played her best this week, but with the general calibre of the field, she hasn't need to spring into life.  Zakopalova has actually beaten Serena before, on clay in 2009; the Czech player has a game that can ignite and she has run close with some of the current top 5, most notably beating Li Na before and pushing Maria Sharapova in Paris.  I still think Serena will win, but I can see Zakopalova winning a set.

Prediction - Serena to beat Zakopalova in 3 sets

Andrea Hlavackova v Elina Svitolina (Bad Gastein, SF)
Andrea Hlavackova
It has come as no surprise that the Bad Gastein draw has been littered with upsets, leaving four players vying to win their first WTA title.  2013 has been a really rough year for Andrea Hlavackova, but since Rome, she has started to pick up some wins in both qualifying and main draws too.  Her best win came in the first round against the world number 98, Eleni Daniilidou, but you cannot put a price on solid wins, especially when Hlavackova has been known to have some pretty epic wobbles in trying to close out matches.  

Her opponent in the semi-finals will be Elina Svitolina, a new name to many, who took out the number 6 seed, Chanelle Scheepers in the 2nd round.  At just 18, she has quietly started to make an impression on the tour with her best win of the year coming against an injury-affected Romina Oprandi at the French Open.  This will be a first career match-up and although I haven't seen Svitolina play, I think she will be mentally stronger than Hlavackova to make her first WTA tour final.

Prediction - Svitolina to beat Hlavackova in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Hamburg Semi-Final Prediction
Roger Federer to beat Federico Delbonis in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: WTA Bastad Semi-Final Prediction
Flavia Pennetta to beat Johanna Larsson in 3 sets

Best of the rest: WTA Bad Gastein Semi-Final Prediction
Karin Knapp to beat Yvonne Meusburger in 3 sets

Thursday, 18 July 2013

ATP Hamburg Quarter-Final Predictions: Monaco-Almagro, Fognini-Haas and more

It was a mixed day of predictions today as my best two predictions (Pennetta and Verdasco) both came via retirements.  Hamburg hasn't been a great tournament for my predictions, but Bastad has been good and could be one of my best of 2013 so far if Flavia Pennetta can make the final and Mathilde Johansson comes through tomorrow.

Juan Monaco v Nicolas Almagro (Hamburg, QF)
Juan Monaco
Juan Monaco and Nicolas Almagro will play for the second time this year as both held strong with their seedings to make the quarter-finals.  Monaco has beaten off a duo of dangerous Frenchmen in Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire.  Monaco beat Paire today, 6-3 2-6 6-2 in one of his best wins of the year so far.  Almagro has had some really gut wrenching losses this year, but remains a solid competitor, particularly on the clay.  He eased past Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straight sets and will fancy his chances against Monaco tomorrow.  Almagro leads the head-to-head by 5 wins to 3 and won their last match in Barcelona, 6-3 7-5 where Monaco went 0 for 10 on break point opportunities.  Both like the clay, both have been playing well this week and both have an equal opportunity in my opinion... I'll go for Almagro.

Prediction - Almagro to beat Monaco in 3 sets

Tommy Haas v Fabio Fognini (Hamburg, QF)
Fabio Fognini
Week in, week out, Tommy Haas has continued to deliver solid performances on the ATP tour and once again, he finds himself in the quarter-finals of a tournament.  This is Haas's 10th quarter-final of the year and he takes on Fabio Fognini, who is on a seven match winning streak having won his first title last week in Stuttgart, beating Haas along the way.  Haas broke Carlos Berlocq's winning streak today with a comfortable straight sets win, 6-2 6-4; Berlocq had won his first title in Bastad last week.  Fognini has picked up his form from last week with straight set wins over Albert Ramos and Marcel Granollers.  Fognini will certainly have the confidence from their match-up last week, but I think Haas will turn the tables this time round.

Prediction - Haas to beat Fognini in 3 sets

ATP Hamburg: Quarter-Final Predictions
Roger Federer to beat Florian Mayer in 2 very tight sets
Fernando Verdasco to beat Federico Delbonis in 2 tight sets

WTA Bastad: Quarter-Final Predictions
Serena Williams to beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino in 2 tight sets
Klara Zakopalova to beat Richel Hogenkamp in 2 sets
Mathilde Johansson to beat Johanna Larsson in 3 sets
Flavia Pennetta to beat Virginie Razzano in 3 sets

WTA Bad Gastein: Quarter-Final Predictions
Andrea Hlavackova to beat Lisa-Maria Moser in 2 tight sets
Elina Svitolina to beat Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in 3 sets
Yvonne Meusburger to beat Arantxa Rus in 2 sets
Annika Beck to beat Karin Knapp in 3 sets

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

ATP Hamburg, WTA Bastad Thursday Predictions: Verdasco-Janowicz, Pennetta-Halep

Fernando Verdasco v Jerzy Janowicz (Hamburg, R3)
Fernando Verdasco
A showdown between two in-form players will be the one to watch in Hamburg as Fernando Verdasco takes on Jerzy Janowicz.  Verdasco pushed Andy Murray all the way in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon and he built on that with a final appearance in Bastad last week.  The Spaniard came through a tight three setter against Roberta Bautista-Agut in his first match in Hamburg, 6-4 3-6 6-2.  Janowicz went one step better than Verdasco at Wimbledon in making the semi-finals and in his first match since that historic occasion, he overcame Robin Haase 6-4 3-6 7-6(4).  This will be a first career match-up and it promises to be a close affair.  I am definitely going for a three setter, but I fancy Verdasco to have the edge on clay...

Prediction - Verdasco to beat Janowicz in 3 sets

Flavia Pennetta v Simona Halep (Bastad, R2)
Bastad has certainly attracted some interest this year with the inclusion of Serena Williams, but tomorrow's star match features the number two seed, Simona Halep up against Flavia Pennetta.  Halep has won three titles this year, all in the last two months, which actually puts her second behind Serena for titles won this year.  Pennetta made her comeback in February following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.  Results have not come easily for the Italian, but she has played better in the last two months with a semi-final run in Strasbourg (coming through 3 qualifying rounds too) and a last 16 showing in Wimbledon.  Pennetta won her first match in Bastad over Mariana Duque-Marino, coming through in three sets.  Halep has played a lot of tennis lately and I did hear she was feeling the effects of it last week on the way to winning in Budapest.  For that reason, I am going with Pennetta to stop the Halep train.

Prediction - Pennetta to beat Halep in 3 sets

ATP Hamburg: 3rd Round Predictions
Roger Federer to beat Jan Hajek in 2 sets
Florian Mayer to beat Feliciano Lopez in 2 tight sets
Federico Delbonis to beat Dmitry Tursunov in 3 sets
Benoit Paire to beat Juan Monaco in 2 tight sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 2 tight sets
Marcel Granollers to beat Fabio Fognini in 3 sets
Tommy Haas to beat Carlos Berlocq in 3 sets

WTA Bad Gastein: 2nd Round Predictions
Mandy Minella to beat Annika Beck in 3 sets
Yvonne Meusburger to beat Irina-Camelia Begu in 2 tight sets
Petra Martic to beat Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in 2 sets
Estrella Cabeza Candela to beat Arantxa Rus in 3 sets
Elina Svitolina to beat Chanelle Scheepers in 2 tight sets

WTA Bastad: 2nd Round Predictions
Lesia Tsurenko to beat Richel Hogenkamp in 2 tight sets
Serena Williams to beat Anna Tatishvili in 2 sets
Mathilde Johansson to beat Andrea Gamiz in 2 sets

Bastad is now the only tournament where my two predicted finalists are still in the tournament.  I had a pretty ropey day in Hamburg :-S