Thursday, 31 October 2013

ATP Paris, Quarter-Final Preview: Djokovic-Wawrinka and Federer-Del Potro

I thought the Paris draw was going to turn into a mess, but rather surprisingly, the big guns have all turned up and reached the quarter-finals.  Milos Raonic's loss to Tomas Berdych has confirmed next week's line-up at the O2 with Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka joining Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer.  In fact, if Nadal beats Janowicz then the final eight in Paris are the eight in question next week so it's certain we'll see some matches over the next few days that will be replicated next week.

1. Stanislas Wawrinka v Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
The prospect of a match between Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic is always a fascinating one based on their two encounters in 2013. Their first match in Melbourne remains one of the best matches of the year and although I felt their match-up at the US Open was heavily overrated, it was still the best of a bad bunch at this year's lacklustre final slam.  Wawrinka confirmed his spot at the O2 with a confident 6-3 6-2 rout of Nicolas Almagro, meanwhile Djokovic was made to work much harder as he lost the opening set of his third round encounter to John Isner, but rolled through the second and third sets to post a 6-7 6-1 6-2 victory.  Djokovic has won both their matches this year, but this one will be the first best of three set match.  Wawrinka has been up and down over the past few months, but remains a potent threat on his day.  I think Stanley will get another set, but Djokovic will come through once more...

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Wawrinka in 3 sets

2. Roger Federer v Juan Martin del Potro
Roger Federer
I am surprised another match-up between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro sits on our doorstops.  I did think there would be some tactical tanking going on and particularly from these two who played five matches in Basel last week.  Their final in Basel was a great contest and through patches, particularly that second set, Federer was stunning.  Del Potro was tested today as he dropped the opening set of his third round match to Grigor Dimitrov and was marginally troubled by a hip injury.  Federer has had no problems so far with straight set wins against Kevin Anderson and Philipp Kohlschreiber.  I am on the edge with this one because I think Federer will be the fresher of the two, but I would still anticipate DelPo being too strong for Federer, who has struggled in the crucial moments of these types of matches recently.

Prediction - Del Potro to beat Federer in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Paris Quarter-Final Predictions
Rafael Nadal to beat Richard Gasquet in 2 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat David Ferrer in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

ATP Paris, 3rd Round Predictions: Nadal-Janowicz and Djokovic-Isner

1. Novak Djokovic v John Isner
Novak Djokovic
Surprisingly, Novak Djokovic was given quite a workout in his first match of the week against Pierre-Hugues Herbert.  The young Frenchman, who had won his first match on the ATP tour against Benoit Paire in round one, hung well with the world number two and even held 2 set points, which were superbly staved off by Djokovic with textbook serving from a champion.  Herbert gave a fine account himself, but eventually lost 7-6(3) 6-3.  Djokovic will now play John Isner, who needed 3 sets to get past Michal Przysiezny.  The huge American has a good record over Djokovic with two previous wins at Indian Wells (2012) and Cincy earlier this year.  There is no doubt Isner can unsettle the Serb, but Djokovic has been in fine form recently and Isner has not looked as solid as he was on home soil.  Advantage Djokovic...

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Isner in 2 tight sets

2. Rafael Nadal v Jerzy Janowicz
Jerzy Janowicz announced himself on tour this time last year where he beat Philipp Kohlschreiber, Marin Cilic, Andy Murray, Janko Tipsarevic and Gilles Simon to make the final of Paris.  Defending those final points was always going to be a challenge, but meeting Rafael Nadal in the third round will be a stern test indeed.  The Pole defeated Santiago Giraldo in straight sets and has made a pretty sound comeback from injury with two losses since the US Open to Ernests Gulbis and David Ferrer in 3 sets.  Nadal was made to word hard for his second round win as he came past fellow Spaniard, Marcel Granollers, 7-5 7-5 in 1 hour and 42 minutes.  Nadal and Janowicz have met once on the ATP tour in an entertaining match in Canada this year where Janowicz certainly had his chances to get at least a set, but eventually came up second best, 7-6(6) 6-4.  Nadal has never excelled indoors and Janowicz obviously likes these courts so I fancy he could scoop a set in this one.

Prediction - Nadal to beat Janowicz in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Paris 3rd Round Predictions
Richard Gasquet to beat Kei Nishikori in 2 tight sets
David Ferrer to beat Gilles Simon in 2 sets
Milos Raonic to beat Tomas Berdych in 2 tight sets
Roger Federer to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in 2 tight sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Juan Martin del Potro in 3 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Stanislas Wawrinka in 2 sets

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

ATP Paris: Tsonga out of O2 race, Federer one win away..

By virtue of his three set loss to Kei Nishikori, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was eliminated from the race to the World Tour Finals at the O2.  I'm sad for the Frenchman, but I think it is for the best because he was obviously struggling with his knee, which has ravaged the second half of his season.  The fact he was still in the running showed what a superb first half of 2013 he enjoyed.  His aggressive play nearly won him the match but double faults both up and down match point cost him a third round tie with Richard Gasquet. I thought Tsonga showed real guts to get the match to a tiebreak and Benoit Paire could certainly learn a few lessons in how to show heart on the tennis court in front of your home crowd. The tiebreak was a story of the serves as Nishikori produced a duo of aces including a sensational second serve down the T to save a match point.  I do like Nishikori and although I felt he became a little passive from the back of the court in the tiebreak, his all-or-nothing serving won him the match.

1. Roger Federer v Kevin Anderson
Roger Federer
A couple of weeks ago, Roger Federer's position at the World Tour Finals was in serious jeopardy, but things have gone really well for him as his challengers have all struggled in the last two weeks and he managed to string some wins together to make the final in Basel.  Some have reported he is already through but a win for Federer against Kevin Anderson will officially confirm his spot in London.  Anderson had an incredibly consistent first half to the year, but he has tailed off in the second half.  His first round opponent, Mikhail Youzhny served for the win, but failed to do so and then retired in the third set down, 4-6 7-6(0) 2-1.  This will be a first ever match between Anderson and Federer and I expect the Fed to win this one, but fall in his next round with London top of his priority list.

Prediction - Federer to beat Anderson  in 2 sets

2. Philipp Kohlschreiber v Tommy Haas
An all-German affair on court 1 will see a rematch from last week as Philipp Kohlschreiber takes on Tommy Haas.  They played just last week in Valencia where Kohlschreiber prevailed in 3 sets, but I think having played the week before and winning the title in Vienna, Haas would have been tired.  Kohlschreiber came through a tight first round match with Andreas Seppi where he recovered from a break down in the third set to come through with a 6-3 3-6 6-4 win.  Kohlschreiber is a beautiful tennis player to watch with his flowing one-handed backhand, but he has always lacked the intensity to fulfill his true potential.  He did well to get past Seppi, but looked less than bothered throughout the whole match.  Kohlschreiber won in Valencia, but I think Haas will be well rested this time round and inflict revenge with a win...

Prediction - Haas to beat Kohlschreiber in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP 2nd Round Paris Predictions
David Ferrer to beat Lukas Rosol in 2 sets
Gilles Simon to beat Nicolas Mahut in 3 sets
Juan Martin del Potro to beat Marin Cilic in 2 sets
Rafael Nadal to beat Marcel Granollers in 2 sets
Milos Raonic to beat Robin Haase in 2 tight sets

John Isner to beat Michal Przysiezny in 3 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Ivan Dodig in 2 tight sets
Stanislas Wawrinka to beat Feliciano Lopez in 3 sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Fabio Fognini in 2 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat Pablo Andujar in 2 sets

Monday, 28 October 2013

Herbert knocks out gutless Paire, 6-2 6-2 in Bercy

Benoit Paire
Watching a home crowd boo their own player is only something you would see in France, but on this occasion I almost felt that Benoit Paire's attitude deserved it.  Firstly I must say what a superb performance by the 22 year old, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who had played just one match on the ATP tour this year (l. to Florian Mayer in Metz).  After quickly falling 0-2 down and looking like a rabbit in the headlights, the young Frenchman produced a performance beyond his years, displaying real variety and craft as he picked off Paire showing superb cool that his much higher ranked and more experienced opponent failed to do.

It is easy to jump on the bandwagon and criticise Paire, but after a performance like that, he cannot defend himself.  If I behaved like Paire did in my professional career, I would be fired.  The crowd did get on his back very early, but he should have shown his professionalism and rose above it.  The ending was frankly embarrassing and Herbert deserved his win and now gets Novak Djokovic in tomorrow's late night match.  It will be a great experience for Herbert, but Djokovic should come through in two sets.  

In the other second round matches to be played out tomorrow, I think Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be tested by Kei Nishikori more so than their recent match in Shanghai, but I would back Tsonga to prevail.  Like Tsonga, I think Richard Gasquet will lose a set to Fernando Verdasco, but come through.  If Gasquet and Tsonga win, they will meet in the third round and it is highly likely that the winner of that titanic clash will confirm their spot at the World Tour Finals next week.  Finally, Jerzy Janowicz will make his return to Paris and I think he will take out the qualifier, Santiago Giraldo in straight sets.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

WTA Champs Istanbul, 2013: Serena triumphs an underwhelming Championships

This afternoon, Serena Williams defeated Li Na to close out the WTA Champs in an entertaining finale, 2-6 6-3 6-0.  Serena began the match in her semi-final slumber mode although Li came out firing on all cylinders with her successful serve-and-volleying a noteworthy feature of the first two sets.  Serena suddenly found her intensity in the second set, but Li hung well with her to 3-3 before completely fading away.  The third set was such a shame to see as Li did crumble having put in a series of mentally tough performances this week.  It reminded me a lot of the Miami final earlier this year (Serena d. Sharapova, 4-6 6-3 6-0) where Sharapova was stunning for a set and half before Serena woke up and then proceeded to destroy her opponent's spirit.

It was all too easy for Serena this week

For me, this year's event was a rather lacklustre event.  I always look forward to the Year Ending Champs. From the iconic picture of the eight challengers to seeing star-striking clashes day in day out through the group stages, it is always a fitting occasion to end the season.  However right from the get go this year, I wasn't feeling this final outing in Istanbul.  Out of the top ten, I would rank Maria Sharapova as my least favourite player, but I actually missed her at this year's event. The third ranked player in this tournament was Agnieszka Radwanska and no disrespect to her, but there was not one person, who thought she had a hope of winning this week.  Serena was the clear favourite and I didn't see one person calling the tournament differently.  Even miles off her best in the semi-finals and final, Serena was light years ahead of the competition, which unfortunately gave this tournament a rather predictable feeling.

I never thought I would say it, but I missed Maria.

I think the WTA Champs could learn a few things from the ATP World Tour Finals and it seems, things are going to change when the tournament moves to Singapore next year for a five year stint.  The tournament from 2014 will run from a Sunday to a Sunday schedule and I think that will only improve the quality of competition.  Three round robin matches on one day makes the tournament feel rushed and has meant that the finalists play five days out of six, which could see one player competing on five consecutive days if their day off is on the first day, which was the case for Li Na this year.  Another problem has been injuries and niggles; since 2006, there have been only two occasions (including this year) where an alternate has not been called on in the WTA Champs.  In my opinion, the heavy schedule is certainly one of the reasons for all the withdrawals, which are something of a rarity at the ATP World Tour Finals with just one withdrawal in the last four years.

Props to Li for a career best performance at the YEC

Another reason I couldn't get on board with this year's WTA Champs was the lack of quality matches.  Last year was actually great and on the top of my head I can remember Sharapova v Radwanska, Radwanska v Errani and best of all, Azarenka v Kerber, which all were noteworthy matches compared to the whole of 2012.  This year saw a large amount of one sided matches with just four that went to three sets and only two which were mildly memorable in my mind.  I really enjoyed the first set of Kvitova v Kerber, which brought out some exciting rallies with so much up for grabs and today's finale, which was fascinating for the first two sets at least before an unforgettable final set.

Kerber features in so many of my favourite matches

The WTA is set up next year with a clear leader at the top of the rankings and only Azarenka has shown potential in threatening Serena.  I still believe Kvitova could beat Serena on a good day and Jankovic competes against her well, but the rest of the top ten just do not come close.  It was a poor ending to the season, but all in all, it's been a good year for the WTA and where I think it stacks up better than the ATP is the vast talent coming through.  Towards the end of this year, the likes of Eugenie Bouchard and Madison Keys started to make their presence felt.  I do not think there will be major changes in the top 5 of the rankings next year, but I do see significant upheaval elsewhere and I think next year's top eight qualifying for Singapore will have a significantly different look to it compared to this year...

The future is bright...

Next Week... Technically the WTA still has the Tournament of Champions in Sofia next week although I think it is a waste of time so do not expect a great deal of coverage from me on it this week.  My focus will be on the last ATP Masters 100 event in Paris leading into the World Tour Finals

ATP Paris: Preview and Predictions

This is the last Masters 1000 event of the year and with it taking place the week before the ATP World Tour Finals, it makes it the most challenging draw to dissect.  There is no doubt there will shocks, retirements and things that do not normally happen at the other Masters events.  Let me stress that some of the results I have predicted I would not normally go for, but if you look at the history of this event and particularly last year's Bercy draw, there have always been surprises along the way...

First Quarter: R.Nadal (1) v J.W.Tsonga (8)
J.W. Tsonga
It certainly looks odd to not see Novak Djokovic at the top of a drawsheet as Rafael Nadal officially plays his first tournament as the world number one.  The Spaniard suffered his first hard court losses in Beijing (to Djokovic) and Shanghai (to Del Potro), but he should be refreshed for this week.  His first match of the week will be against Dmitry Tursunov or Marcel Granollers.  His third round opponent is projected to be Jerzy Janowicz, who made the final at this event last year so is therefore defending big points.  He has made a very respectable return to the tour and ran Nadal close in an entertaining match in Canada earlier this year.  

On the other side of this quarter, a trio of home favourites including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau take the helm.  Tsonga had a good result in Shanghai where he made the semi-finals, but still has not looked 100% since returning from a knee injury.  He along with Gasquet, is still fighting for a place at the World Tour Finals and a potential third round meeting would be fascinating.  However despite his woeful record in finals, Julien Benneteau can be a thorn to the big names and if he passes by the struggling, Kei Nishikori, then I could see him taking out Tsonga in round two.  Ernests Gulbis against Fernando Verdasco is a noteworthy first rounder to get your popcorn ready for...

1st Round Predictions: Tursunov to beat Granollers in 3 sets, Verdasco to beat Gulbis in 3 sets and Benneteau to beat Nishikori in 2 tight sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Nadal v Gasquet

Second Quarter: D.Ferrer (3) v T.Berdych (6)
Alexandr Dolgopolov
As the World Tour Finals arrives on our doorstop, it is good news to see David Ferrer finally finding some form again.  The Spaniard has reached the finals in Stockholm and Valencia although he has played the last five weeks in an unnecessarily punishing schedule.  If it he doesn't fall early here, he is hurting his chances in London.  His draw looks relatively straightforward, but my complete punt in the dark is for Alexandr Dolgopolov to make the quarters, beating Gilles Simon in the second round, who had the most baffling of results last week winning just 1 game in a first round loss to Alejandro Falla.

Officially qualified for the World Tour Finals, it is Tomas Berdych's first half to the season that has got him there as his form has tailed off since Wimbledon.  His first match will be a testing one against Gael Monfils or Vasek Pospisil.  Monfils has gone off the radar since beating Roger Federer in Shanghai, but in his home tournament where he has had tremendous success in the past, I think he could ignite once more.  Milos Raonic is also in this section, but he has played a great deal of tennis lately and it will require a sensational performance this week for him to qualify for the World Tour Finals.

1st Round Predictions: Chardy to beat Rosol in 3 sets, Dolgopolov to beat Mahut in 2 tight sets and Monfils to beat Pospisil in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Dolgopolov v Monfils (don't judge me)

Third Quarter: R.Federer (5) v J.M.del Potro (4) 
Grigor Dimitrov
They played out the final in Basel today and Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro are set to meet in the quarters of Paris.  However with both contending the WTF (Federer is not officially confirmed, but he'll be there) I think both will slip out of Paris early this week.  Federer could meet BFF, Tommy Haas in the third round, who has had a truly stunning year.  He does potentially meet his Valencia conqueror, Philipp Kohlschreiber in round two, but he will have been knackered from his title win in Vienna so I see a different result this week.

Del Potro could meet Marin Cilic in the second round after his drugs ban was cut by four months meaning that he can play this week.  I must say it is a baffling and puzzling story to me, and I thought the ban was fair.  He is not a drugs cheat, but he made a silly mistake and should really have paid more for that.  Grigor Dimitrov has done really well in the last two weeks and with a draw like this, which involves a who-knows-what-mood-he-is-in, Fabio Fognini and a potentially tiring DelPo, he could go far this week.

1st Round Predictions: Youzhny to beat Anderson in 2 sets, Kohlschreiber to beat Seppi in 3 sets and Dimitrov to beat Llodra in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Haas v Dimitrov

Fourth Quarter: S.Wawrinka (7) v N.Djokovic (2)
Nicolas Almagro
Novak Djokovic bookends the draw and having not played since Shanghai, I think he will compete hard this week to get him ready tuned for London.  His first match of the week will be against Benoit Paire or a qualifier with an eye to a potential third round match with John Isner.  The big dude did great in the US, but once again, has struggled for consistent wins elsewhere.  If Djokovic has his eye on London then his stumbling block is likely to be Isner in the third round as the American has notched up two previous wins against him.

Stanley Wawrinka is in a prime position to qualify for the WTF, particularly with two of his closest challengers, Gasquet and Tsonga poised to meet in the third round.  His draw is favourable, but he has not been firing on all cylinders lately.  His first encounter will be against Feliciano Lopez or a qualifier before a potential third rounder against Nicolas Almagro.  The Spaniard has somehow managed to turn his year around and despite another crushing loss to David Ferrer in Valencia, he is finally playing good, confident tennis again.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Almagro make another quarter-final this week as Stanley tightens up with the prospect of London in his sight.

1st Round Predictions: Dodig to beat Roger-Vasselin in 2 tight sets,

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Almagro v Djokovic

Moo's Final Prediction: Djokovic d. Nadal
I have gone for a great deal of shocks in my draw this week, but I have still gone for a Djokovic-Nadal final.  It's a tough one to call overall but on the winner, I have gone safe this week.

WTA Champs Istanbul Final Preview: Serena Williams v Li Na

The final for the WTA Champs in Istanbul has arrived in what feels like super quick time and will see world number one, Serena Williams take on the soon-to-be world number three, Li Na.  By virtue of her semi-final victory over Petra Kvitova, Li will move up to career best number three in the world, which is a marvellous achievement and backs up her very solid 2013 results.  I was disappointed that Kvitova lost and I must say that the Kvitova-Li head-to-head is so difficult to call because there has been a different winner the last five times they have played.  

Serena came through an extremely odd semi-final with Jelena Jankovic where she compained of hitting the wall and having little energy left.  I didn't watch either of the semi-finals yesterday, but it makes trying to call this final nigh on impossible.  It all obviously depends on which Serena comes out; if she is like yesterday, then Li certainly has a shot and she proved against a hobbled Azarenka that she is a mentally stronger player these days, albeit still with her flaws.  However on the other hand, it would not be surprise me at all to see Serena get her act together and waltz through this final.

The head-to-head is heavily in Serena's favour and she won their last match at the US Open, 6-0 6-3.  That match-up was a story of two affairs as Serena completely overwhelmed Li for much of the match, but the Chinese player did offer some fine resistance at the end and was going toe-to-toe with the world number one before eventually slipping to a defeat.  It is really difficult to write Serena off and particularly with Li across the net, who doesn't exactly hold a great deal of confidence when they meet.  I think it's going to be a grind, but I can still see Serena lifting the trophy up at the end of the day.

Prediction - Serena to beat Li in 3 sets

Saturday, 26 October 2013

WTA Champs Istanbul, Day 5: Kvitova-Li and Serena-Jankovic

1. Petra Kvitova v Li Na
Petra Kvitova
I have never particularly enjoyed matches between Petra Kvitova and Li Na, but the one you can expect from these two is a competitive match and that is particularly welcome because of the 12 matches we have seen this week, just 2 have gone the distance.  Li won all 3 group matches including managing her head well in a 6-2 6-1 victory over a hobbled, Victoria Azarenka.  Kvitova has impressed me this week and she did a good job in staying in the moment and beating Angelique Kerber, 6-7 6-2 6-3.  The head-to-head is tied at 3-3 and 4 of those matches have gone to 3 sets.  It promises to be another close one, but I fancy Petra indoors to do the business.

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Li in 3 sets

2. Serena Williams v Jelena Jankovic
I mean no disrespect to Jelena Jankovic when I say that I expect this match to be a formality.  Jelena had a great win over Victoria Azarenka, but was struggling with a cold as she was beaten in straight sets by Sara Errani.  Serena has been impeccable through the first three matches so a duff performance from the world number one would be a surprise.  You can at least rely on JJ to make this an entertaining match no matter what the scoreline is.

Prediction - Serena to beat Jankovic in 2 sets

Best of the rest: Valencia semi-final predictions
Dmitry Tursunov to beat Mikhail Youzhny in 3 sets
David Ferrer to beat Nicolas Almagro in 2 sets

Best of the rest: Basel semi-final predictions
Juan Martin del Potro to beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin in 2 sets
Roger Federer to beat Vasek Pospisil in 2 tight sets

Thursday, 24 October 2013

WTA Champs Istanbul, Day 4 Preview: Azarenka-Li, Kerber-Kvitova & Jankovic-Errani

Serena Williams has been in impeccable form throughout this tournament, which has certainly taken a shine off the excitement factor for me because it is all looking a bit too straightforward for the world number one.  Tomorrow we will find out the three players joining Serena in the semi-finals.

1. Victoria Azarenka v Li Na (White Group)
Li Na has scored two good wins at this year's WTA Champs, but she could still miss out on a semi-final place if things do not go her way on Friday.  Li dug out an impressive win in the tournament's first three setter against Jelena Jankovic, 6-3 2-6 6-3.  She now takes on Victoria Azarenka, who has looked out-of-sorts this week and admitted to struggling for motivation at the end of this long season.  She was beaten by JJ on Wednesday, but knows she can still qualify with a straight sets win over Li.  Azarenka and Li haven't met since that dramatic Australian Open finale where Li took the opening set, but a series of unfortunate falls jolted her and Azarenka came back to take her second Grand Slam title.  I have always felt that Li should have won that match and I think this time we will see the Chinese player complete a clean sweep of wins in the group stage and confirm her spot in the semi-finals.

Highlights from this year's Aussie Open final

Prediction - Li to beat Azarenka in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

2. Angelique Kerber v Petra Kvitova (Red Group)
Where the white group is messy and complicated in who qualifies, the red group is simple.  Whoever wins the second match between Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber will reach the semi-finals.  I thought Kvitova played a very good match against Serena and was hitting the ball beautifully from the back of the court.  However she struggled to get a read on Serena's serve, which was a big difference and saw the world number one progress with a 6-2 6-3 victory.  Kerber had a very impressive win over Agnieszka Radwanska as she took the match to the Pole in aggressive fashion hitting 31 winners and coming away with a 6-2 6-2 victory.  I really do enjoy Kerber-Kvitova matches and although 3 of their last 4 matches have been rather lopsided they have featured peaks of superb tennis.  They last played in the Tokyo final where Kvitova prevailed in 3 sets.  There is so much up for grabs, which makes this a fascinating prospect, but I'm team Petra all the way...

Highlights from the Kvitova-Kerber Tokyo final

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Kerber in 3 sets

3. Jelena Jankovic v Sara Errani (White Group)
The final round robin match will see Jelena Jankovic try and sneak into the semi-finals with a final match against Sara Errani, who was eliminated by virtue of JJ taking a set off Li.  Jankovic has been the surprise package at this tournament so far and despite losing to Li in 3 tight sets, she scored her biggest win of her year to date against Victoria Azarenka in her first match.  Errani has nothing to play for in the singles, but I could quite easily see her giving Jankovic a torrid time tomorrow.  In the head-to-head, Jankovic has a 1-0 lead with a three set win at Indian Wells in 2010 in an epic match that finished just 12 minutes shy of the 3 hour mark.  I expect Jankovic will eventually pull through, but it will be a nervy and drawn out affair.

Prediction - Jankovic to beat Errani in 2 very tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP Quarter-Final Predictions for Valencia
David Ferrer to beat Jerzy Janowicz in 2 tight sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Fabio Fognini in 2 tight sets
Dmitry Tursunov to beat Jeremy Chardy in 3 sets
Mikhail Youzhny to beat Jarkko Nieminen in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP Quarter-Final Predictions for Basel
Juan Martin del Potro to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu in 2 sets
Daniel Brands to beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin in 3 sets
Roger Federer to beat Grigor Dimitrov in 3 sets
Ivan Dodig to beat Vasek Pospisil in 2 tight sets

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

WTA Champs Istanbul, Day 3 Preview: Li-Jankovic, Radwanska-Kerber and Serena-Kvitova

It has been a pretty sluggish start to this year's WTA Champs in Istanbul with 6 matches and 6 straight set wins.  We have yet to see a really competitive match of any real quality, but things could change on Thursday with a considerably improved line-up of matches including the most hotly anticipated from the group stage.

1. Li Na v Jelena Jankovic (White Group) 
Jelena Jankovic
Jelena Jankovic rolled back the years sending shockwaves through the white group as she defeated Victoria Azarenka, 6-4 6-3 for her biggest win of the year.  Jankovic sounds in extremely good spirits this week and could be a dark horse to keep an eye on. Vika was sluggish throughout and mentioned in her post-match presser that she was mentally exhausted and struggling for motivation.  Her serve was leaking double faults in the second set and will need some considerable improvement in the off-season.  

Jankovic meanwhile has given herself a superb chance of qualifying and now plays Li Na, who also won her first match on Wednesday, fending off an admirable late charge from Sara Errani with a 6-3 7-6(5) victory.  Jankovic should have a much tougher time against Li, who walloped her at the US Open with a straight sets win, which included a second set bagel.  Unlike Azarenka, I think Li is highly motivated to end the season on a high and will have the shots to beat JJ.

Prediction - Li to beat Jankovic in 3 sets

2. Agnieszka Radwanska v Angelique Kerber (Red Group)
Angelique Kerber
In Tuesday's battles in the red group between the power hitter and the counter-puncher, it was the latter who came out second best in both.  Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber face off in a crucial match as both try to remain in the hunt for the semi-finals.  Kerber was thoroughly overwhelmed by a Serena Williams masterclass, 6-3 6-1, meanwhile Radwanska was lacklustre at best as she was beaten by Petra Kvitova, 6-4 6-4 on Tuesday night.  She improved tonight, but was still miles from threatening Serena, who won 6-2 6-4.  This will be the third time Radwanska and Kerber have played each other in the last month.  Kerber won their match in Tokyo, meanwhile Radwanska turned the tables in Beijing.  I think it is a 50/50 match to call and on the face of it, I would go for Radwanska to prevail.  If Kerber did lose this match, but was then to beat Kvitova, things would become very interesting indeed...

Prediction - Radwanska to beat Kerber in 2 tight sets

3. Serena Williams v Petra Kvitova (Red Group)
Petra Kvitova
The match of the day will see Serena Williams face her toughest test of the week so far against Petra Kvitova.  Serena has been effortless in taking out Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets to assure her of a semi-final place in Istanbul.  Kvitova enjoyed a solid win over Radwanska, completing it in two (yes, two), relatively drama-free sets.  As Azarenka toils, Kvitova looks like Serena's closest competition this week so this should be a fascinating contest.  

Their last match all the way back in February saw Kvitova push Serena all the way in Doha.  In that match, Serena returned to the world number one spot with a 3-6 6-3 7-5 victory.  I could see Kvitova getting another set in this one and Serena will be wary of the threat.  Ultimately, Serena's confidence will be sky high and Kvitova would have to play a flawless match to usurp the world number one.  Let's hope for a stunning match that kicks this tournament into gear...

Prediction - Serena to beat Kvitova in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Basel 2nd Round Predictions
Tobias Kamke to beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin in 3 sets
Michael Llodra to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu in 2 sets
Juan Martin del Potro to beat Marcos Baghdatis in 2 tight sets
Grigor Dimitrov to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov in 3 sets
Ivo Karlovic to beat Vasek Pospisil in 3 sets
Daniel Brands to beat Lukasz Kubot in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP Valencia 2nd Round Predictions
John Isner to beat Jeremy Chardy in 2 tight sets
Philipp Kohlschreiber to beat Mikhail Youzhny in 3 sets
David Ferrer to beat Julien Benneteau in 2 tight sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Michal Przysiezny in 2 sets
Jarkko Nieminen to beat Alejandro Falla in 2 tight sets
Jerzy Janowicz to beat Joao Sousa in 3 sets  

WTA Champs Istanbul, Day 2 Preview: Li-Errani, Azarenka-Jankovic and Serena-Radwanska

1. Li Na v Sara Errani (White Group)
Li Na
Li Na will make her debut at this year's YEC on Wednesday in the first match of the day against Sara Errani.  The Italian kicked off her championships today and started brightly with plenty of variety, but was eventually worn down by Victoria Azarenka's greater poise in the key moments, 7-6(4) 6-2.  Li has had a remarkably solid end to the year and commented in her interviews pre-tournament that this has been her best year because she has managed to maintain her consistency throughout the whole year.  I would agree and I think Li will qualify with ease from this group.  

Li has a significant edge in her head-to-head with Errani and has won all 5 of their previous encounters with Errani winning no more than 4 games in a set of their last 4 matches.  Errani proved today that she can be a tricky customer on the slow Istanbul court, but there will be concerns about the calf injury she picked up in the match with Azarenka and I think Li will stroll to victory in this one.

Prediction - Li to beat Errani in 2 sets

2. Victoria Azarenka v Jelena Jankovic (White Group)
It was a slow start for Victoria Azarenka in the opening match of the tournament, but she eventually fought past Sara Errani to take a 1-0 lead in the white group.  Her second match will be against Jelena Jankovic, who makes her return to the YEC, which she last played in Doha, 2010 and lost all three of her group matches.  Jelena, now coached by her brother, looks to be in a good place with her tennis and she will have absolutely no pressure going into this tournament and particularly this match.  Azarenka leads the head-to-head by 5 wins to 3, but has won their last 4 matches.  The last time they played was in Cincy where Vika won a dramatic and break-happy 3 set semi-final, 4-6 6-2 6-3.  I think this could be another long match with many breaks and Azarenka prevailing, barely.

Prediction - Azarenka to beat Jankovic in 3 sets

3. Serena Williams v Agnieszka Radwanska (Red Group)
For the fourth time this year, Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska will meet on a tennis court.  All of their previous clashes this year have been in semi-finals, but I do not see a different outcome in this one.  Radwanska put in a great performance when they played in Montreal this year, pushing the match to 7-6(3) 6-4, but the depth and weight of Serena's strokes compared to Radwanska's will always make this a one-sided contest.  In yesterday's action, Serena strolled to a 6-3 6-1 victory over Angelique Kerber, meanwhile Radwanska was edged out in 2 sets by Petra Kvitova.  I do not have much more to add to this match-up...

Prediction - Serena to beat Radwanska in 2 sets

Monday, 21 October 2013

WTA Champs Istanbul, Day 1 Preview: Azarenka-Errani, Serena-Kerber & Radwanska-Kvitova

The WTA Champs in Istanbul get underway tomorrow afternoon and here is my preview for the first three matches of the group stages.

1. Victoria Azarenka v Sara Errani (White Group)
Victoria Azarenka
The 2013 WTA Champs will kick off with the world number 2, Victoria Azarenka up against the world number 7, Sara Errani.  The opening match at the last 2 finales in Istanbul featured one sided matches and on paper, you would expect that with this opener too.  Vika leads the head-to-head with 6 wins to 1 including victories in their last 5 matches, of which 2 took place this year in Doha (6-2 6-2) and Rome (6-0 7-5).  Going in Errani's favour is Azarenka's form during the Asian swing where she went 0-2 through Tokyo and Beijing as she was affected by illness.  Out of all eight players, most mystery surrounds Azarenka.  My thoughts? I don't think she will be at her best, but she will have enough to pass the challenge of the Italian.

Prediction - Azarenka to beat Errani in 2 sets 

2. Serena Williams v Angelique Kerber (Red Group)
Serena Williams
The red group kicks off in it's entirety on Tuesday with the overwhelming favourite for the title, Serena Williams taking on Angelique Kerber.  Serena last played in Beijing where she won the title not playing at her best.  In that tournament, she was troubled by a back injury, but there have been no indications that injury is going to be an issue at this tournament.  Kerber finished the season in her best form of 2013 with a finals appearance in Tokyo, a quarter-final showing in Beijing and a third WTA title in Linz.  She comes into this tournament with a reinvigorated confidence, which she will need to have a chance to qualify from the tougher of the two groups.  She has got a win over Serena to her name in an odd match that took place in Cincy last year.  However I think Serena will be too strong for Kerber in this one.

Prediction - Serena to beat Kerber in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

3. Agnieszka Radwanska v Petra Kvitova (Red Group)
Petra Kvitova
The best match on Tuesday's schedule and one that will be potentially pivotal top who qualifies will see Petra Kvitova take on Agnieszka Radwanska.  This was the opening match of the 2012 WTA Champs where Kvitova slumped to a straight sets loss before being forced to pull out due to illness.  This remains the only time that Aga has beaten Petra and in their last match-up, Kvitova was far too strong in a 6-2 6-4 win earlier this year in Dubai.  Radwanska was solid as ever during the Asian swing as she made quarters in Tokyo, semis in Beijing and won Seoul too.  Kvitova managed to turn her fortunes around with an excellent run that included winning the title in Tokyo and making the semi-finals of Beijing.  If she can remain fit and illness-free, then I think she is going to have a good week in her favoured environment of indoors.

Prediction - Kvitova to beat Radwanska in 2 tight sets

Sunday, 20 October 2013

WTA Year Ending Championships, Istanbul: Preview and Early Predictions

The top eight women this year are in Istanbul with action set to kick off on Tuesday.  I managed to waste an hour of my life watching the draw ceremony with about 45 minutes of speeches and bringing the players on and then 1 minute for the draw! I aim to write daily previews for the three matches each day, but here are a few thoughts before the tournament starts on what I think might happen.

RED GROUP: S.Williams, A.Radwanska, P.Kvitova and A.Kerber
Serena Williams
Followers of my Twitter account will know I am eager as a beaver to see Petra Kvitova take on Victoria Azarenka so I was somewhat disappointed to see Kvitova fall in the red group.  I then realised we will get a match between Serena and Petra indoors, which ain't so bad.  The red group is by far the more treacherous of the two and I think will see qualification go down to the wire.  Serena should qualify comfortably with wins over Radwanska and Kerber, and I am reserving judgement on her match against Kvitova until we know what day it is.  I would have to favour that an in-form Kvitova would qualify too as she comfortably owns Radwanska on her day.  Kvitova-Kerber is always an interesting match and their matches have always gone to three sets so that could be the most competitive of the lot from the red group.

Moo's Prediction: 1. Serena and 2. Kvitova

WHITE GROUP: V.Azarenka, L.Na, S.Errani and  J.Jankovic
The white group looks considerably more straightforward for the top two seeds, Victoria Azarenka and Li Na and in fact it is the match-up between those two that will be the one to watch.  I strongly feel that Li would have won the Australian Open had it not been for her two injuries she picked up on that day in January so a first match since that dramatic final will be fascinating.  Respect to Errani for making it to the YEC once more, but she will have a tough job with losing head-to-heads against all three opponents in this group.  Jankovic will need a win against Li or Azarenka and I just cannot see it happening.  She will have to hope Azarenka is still in an Asian slumber to nick an unlikely place in the semi-finals.

Moo's Prediction: 1. Li and 2. Azarenka

Based on recent form and because this tournament is indoors, I am expecting a Serena-Petra final with Serena prevailing.  There are certainly question marks about Azarenka's form right now so I do not feel confident picking her to go all the way.  I hope we get to see another Serena-Vika match (and Vika-Petra of course!) but not if Azarenka is sub-par because it will be a walk in the park for Serena.

I will be working nights next week so it could be interesting.  It may be late, but I will try and get something up before the first match of each day.

ATP Basel, Valencia: Preview and Predictions

This week sees the hunt for the final few places at the World Tour Finals hot up with Basel and Valencia to look forward too.  Let's take a look at the draws...

ATP Basel
Juan Martin del Potro
Basel's line-up was looking pretty mega at the start of the week, but notable withdrawals from Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic have weakened the line-up somewhat.  Juan Martin del Potro now headlines the draw and will open the tournament against Swiss wildcard, Henri Laaksonsen.  He could meet Marcos Baghdatis in the second round, which is an always tricky opponent for the Argentine.  Del Potro has won their two encounters this year, but both went the distance.  A quarter-final with the Moscow champion, Richard Gasquet is on the cards, which would be a first meeting since Basel last year.

Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer bulk out the middle section of the draw.  Stanley, who opens up against Edouard Roger-Vasselin, has a very favourable draw and is likely to meet Andreas Seppi in the quarter-finals, who isn't exactly moving mountains these days.  I still fancy Federer to do well here though it is hard to ignore his recent form.  On a fast indoor hard court he should feel even more at home and technically shouldn't be tested until at least the quarters where he could meet Grigor Dimitrov, Alexandr Dolgopolov or Radek Stepanek, who house out a funky section of the draw.  

The final quarter features the number 2 seed, Tomas Berdych, who is looking to 100% confirm his place at the O2.  He takes on Ivo Karlovic in the first round, who had a great week in Moscow and is one of the best people to follow on Twitter (if you're not, where have you been?!).  Berdych's second round opponent will be Vienna finalist, Robin Haase or Vasek Pospisil, who played each other last week in Vienna.  Kei Nishikori is Berdych's projected quarter-final opponent and if he is injury free (a big if these days), he has a 3-1 lead in the head-to-head with Berdych.  All in all, I think this is DelPo's title to lose, but a lot does depend on the fitness of some of the players in this draw as we approach the end of the season.

1st Round Predictions: Del Potro to beat Laaksonsen in 2 sets, Gasquet to beat Llodra in 2 tight sets, Wawrinka to beat Roger-Vasselin in 2 tight sets, Seppi to beat Brands in 2 sets, Dimitrov to beat Stepanek in 3 sets, Istomin to beat Zeballos in 2 sets, Federer to beat Mannarino in 2 sets, Dodig to beat Berlocq in 3 sets, Pospisil to beat Haase in 3 sets and Berdych to beat Karlovic in 2 very tight sets

Moo's Final Prediction: Del Potro d. Federer

ATP Valencia
David Ferrer
Valencia does not have the big name draws of Basel, but the overall strength of the draw is much better and there are some eye-catching openers to watch out for.  At the top of the draw, Stockholm runner-up, David Ferrer takes on Gael Monfils in the first round.  Two weeks ago, Monfils was beating Federer and taking a set off Djokovic and last week he was losing in the first round of Vienna to the world number 213, Jaroslav Pospisil, who had never won an ATP tour main draw match.

The second quarter features Nicolas Almagro, who has ressurected his season with some big wins in Tokyo and Shanghai.  In a Spaniard-dominated quarter, I expect Marcel Granollers to take out both Janko Tipsarevic and Fabio Fognini and then fall in the quarters to Almagro.  The third quarter features just Albert Montanes on the Spanish front, but I could see both seeds, Kevin Anderson and John Isner falling at the first hurdle.  Anderson has lost the consistency that he showed in the first half of 2013 and will be tough pushed to beat Roberto Bautista-Agut, meanwhile Isner has got Ernests Gulbis to contend with.

The final quarter features Vienna champion, Tommy Haas, who has drawn Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round.  I was surprised Haas played Vienna with a back injury taking him out early in Shanghai and I think Kohlschreiber might be onto a win in that one.  Gilles Simon had an early loss in Shanghai and should have recovered from a back injury, but he could be set for 4th meet-up with Benoit Paire this year if both win their openers.

1st Round Predictions: Ferrer to beat Monfils in 3 sets, Lopez to beat Benneteau in 2 tight sets, Granollers to beat Tipsarevic in 2 sets, Fognini to beat Klizan in 2 sets, Bautista-Agut to beat Anderson in 3 sets, Chardy to beat Flo.Mayer in 3 sets, Gulbis to beat Isner in 3 sets, Paire to beat Nieminen in 2 tight sets, Youzhny to beat Tomic in 2 sets and Kohlschreiber to beat Haas in 2 sets (retirement, withdrawal possible)

Moo's Final Prediction: Ferrer d. Gulbis

WTA Moscow: Simona Halep wins 5th title of 2013, beats Stosur, 7-6(1) 6-2

What a sensational second half to the year for Simona Halep, who defeated Sam Stosur to win the Moscow title, 7-6(1) 6-2.  Heading into Rome this year she had an unspectacular 9-9 W-L record.  However since that event, which saw her beat Svetlana Kuznetsova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Roberta Vinci and Jelena Jankovic, she has gone on the absolute rampage.  Halep has posted 39 victories along the way (to just 8 losses), which included winning her first title in Nurnberg and backing that up with further victories in s'Hertogenbosch, Budapest, New Haven and now Moscow.  A notably impressive feat is her ability to perform on a range of different surfaces with those tournaments coming on clay, hard court, grass and now indoor hard court.  I don't like jumping on the bandwagon, but it is hard not too!

In this final Halep was in danger of losing the first set having failed to convert on 11 break points, but she showed great determination and belief in her game to claw out of from 5-6 30-30 with an all-or-nothing down-the-line winner and then stroll through the tiebreak.  I have to admit I haven't watched much of Halep, but she possesses a surprising amount of power on her groundstrokes and her strength is definitely the way she constructs her points.  Of course, this tournament has shown us her peak form and not every week will be like this.  The last time she played in Beijing, she had lost very tamely to Urszula Radwanska, wasting leads in both sets.  

I am convinced though that with her solid game, ability to hit winners and beautiful point construction that she will easily crack the top 10 at the start of next year.  Halep won just 9 matches up till Rome so is therefore defending very few points through big events such as the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami.  If she can maintain this form then I have absolutely no doubt that she will be knocking on the door of the top 5 in 6 months time.  Below are a few interviews  I found from Simona Halep when she was in New Haven as I know remarkably little about her!

Halep after her first round win in New Haven

Halep after beating Caroline Wozniacki in New Haven

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Moscow, Luxembourg and Stockholm Finals Predictions: Stosur-Halep and more

1. Sam Stosur v Simona Halep (Moscow, F)
Sam Stosur
Moscow will close with a fascinating finale between Sam Stosur and Simona Halep.  Stosur has hit her best form of the year and produced another clinical display in the semi-finals to take out home favourite, Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets.  Halep was even better as she eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the loss of just 3 games.  Halep has had a quite remarkable year and really should be winning the "Most Improved Player" in the WTA awards for 2013.  She will be defending very few points up till May next year and I am very confident she will crack the top 10 and knock on the door of the top 5 as well.  

Stosur plummeted all the way down to number 20 in the rankings, which felt extremely strange, but I am glad to see her end 2013 well and there will be more points up for grabs for both players in Sofia.  Halep won their most recent encounter in Cincy, 6-4 4-6 6-2 and based on her tremendous performance today, I think she will claim the title against an in-form Sammy.

Prediction - Halep to beat Stosur in 3 sets

2. Caroline Wozniacki v Annika Beck (Luxembourg, F)
It was a struggle to close the match out, but Caroline Wozniacki eventually sealed her place in the final after defeating Sabine Lisicki, 6-4 6-4.  She now takes on first time WTA finalist, Annika Beck, who progressed through her semi-final via a retirement from Stefanie Voegele at 7-5 1-0 up due to a back injury.  This has been quite a surprise to see Beck come through and make a first final because she has been in terrible form of late with a 1-5 W-L record stretching back to the US Open.  She has shown her talent, albeit in pulses this year, but I don't see her being more than a solid top 20 / 30 player.  Wozniacki has not won a title all year, but that should change tomorrow...

Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Beck in 2 sets

3. David Ferrer v Grigor Dimitrov (Stockholm, F)
David Ferrer gets a lot of flack these days, but I am glad to see him back in a final and winning matches again before the World Tour Finals.  He recovered from losing the first set to Ernests Gulbis and raced through the decider to book a finals spot with Grigor Dimitrov.  There have been some real highs this year from the young Bulgarian, but he essentially disappeared from the radar from May with a series of mystifying losses.  Dimitrov defeated Benoit Paire in 3 sets today, 4-6 6-2 6-2 and now coached by Roger Rasheed, looks to be ending the season on a high ready for a proper assault on the rankings for 2013.  Ferrer seems to be finding his mojo again and despite a good week for Dimitrov, I would be surprised if he wins this title, which would be a first on the ATP tour.

Prediction - Ferrer to beat Dimitrov in 3 sets

Best of the rest: ATP Vienna Final Prediction
Tommy Haas to beat Robin Haase in 3 sets

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Richard Gasquet to beat Mikhail Kukushkin in 2 sets

Friday, 18 October 2013

Moscow, Luxembourg and Stockholm Semi-Final Predictions: Wozniacki-Lisicki and more

There are too many tournaments this week! Today's predictions were pretty poor on the most part so let's try and improve for Saturday. Here goes with another day of previews...

1. Caroline Wozniacki v Sabine Lisicki (Luxembourg, SF)
Sabine Lisicki
The Luxembourg draw is severely skewed with one semi-final offering up 2 top 15 players and the other one between Annika Beck and Stefanie Voegele, who are both in the 50's.  I clearly remember the last time that Caroline Wozniacki and Sabine Lisicki played each other, which was at the Australian Open this year where I thought Lisicki would prevail in a first round upset, but Wozniacki benefitted from a Sabine meltdown to progress in 3 sets.  

Since that last match-up, Lisicki reached a first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and despite many niggling injuries, has become a marginally more consistent player.  Wozniacki is enjoying her best phase of the season (bar Indian Wells) and just about did enough to overturn a 0-2 record this year against Bojana Jovanovski as she won in 3 sets, 6-3 3-6 6-3.  This match-up solely depends on what Sabine will bring to the table although it is fair to say Wozniacki is bringing more to the table these days...

The most memorable moment from their previous match-ups... hilarious.

Prediction - Wozniacki to beat Lisicki in 3 sets

2. Svetlana Kuznetsova v Sam Stosur (Moscow, SF)
Sam Stosur
Would you believe this is Svetlana Kuznetsova's first WTA tour semi-final of 2013? I was surprised because although there have been some pretty prominent dips along the way, Kuznetsova has done well this year after a lengthy lay-off at the back end of 2012.  She has look remarkably consistent this week and produced a fine performance to ease past Roberta Vinci in straight sets.  Kuznetsova now takes on Sam Stosur, who has hit her best patch of form in 2013 with 8 straight wins.  She took out Ana Ivanovic in a tight two setter today, 7-5 6-4, hitting 25 winners to just 13 unforced errors.  Stosur and Kuznetsova are tied at 3-3 in their head-to-head and Stosur won their last match in Cincy where Kuznetsova was displaying significant rust from her summer lay-off.  This should be a really tight match and based on form, I would have to go with Stosur to nick the win.

Prediction - Stosur to beat Kuznetsova in 3 sets

3. David Ferrer v Ernests Gulbis (Stockholm, SF)
David Ferrer would probably not have felt too rosey about seeing Fernando Verdasco pulling out before their quarter-final clash because he is in dire need of matches before the impending World Tour Finals in a few weeks.  The Spaniard faces a tough test in the semi-finals against Ernest Gulbis, who is actually unbeaten in his last 10 matches including Davis Cup action.  Gulbis beat Jerzy Janowicz in 3 sets today and is ending the season on a real high after failing to take advantage of a good draw at the US Open where he bombed out in the first round.  Ferrer won their only previous match, but you have to fancy with their respective forms, this is a great opportunity for Gulbis to make another final and claim a top 5 scalp.

Prediction - Gulbis to beat Ferrer in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: WTA Moscow Semi-Final Prediction
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to beat Simona Halep in 3 sets

Best of the rest: WTA Luxembourg Semi-Final Prediction
Stefanie Voegele to beat Annika Beck in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP Stockholm Semi-Final Prediction
Benoit Paire to beat Grigor Dimitrov in 2 tight sets

Best of the rest: ATP Vienna Semi-Final Predictions
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to beat Robin Haase in 2 sets
Tommy Haas to beat Lukas Rosol in 2 sets