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

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1 comment:

  1. Radwanska had a match yesterday , Kerber didn't have so Ag maybe would be tired ? It is strange that some bookmakers block the bet for kerber...what do yo think ?