2015 WTA Bogota (@CopaWTABogota) Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
I’m back (Imagine that in a Schwartznegger voice). Unfortunately, a change of house meant that I couldn’t access the internet for a week, but I’m back in time for the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogota.
The Claro Open Colsanitas was upgraded to a WTA-level event in 1998 after being an ITF level event for five years. It’s since become one of the WTA’s most prestigious Latin America tournaments. Bogota’s own Fabiola Zuluaga holds the tournament record with 4 titles. Caroline Garcia took home the crown of Bogota champion last year defeating Jelena Jankovic in the final.
Claro Open Colsanitas
Location: Bogota, Colombia
Prize Money: $ 250,000
Date: April 13th- April 19th
The 8 seeded players (ranking)
1. Elina Svitolina (29)
2. Monica Puig (51)
3. Ajla Tomljanovic (60)
4. Francesca Schiavone (69)
5. Yaroslava Shvedova (78)
6. Shelby Rogers (80)
7. Timea Babos (87)
8. Irina Falconi (88)
The field is fairly weak with only one top 50 player competing in the tournament. But what that does is open the draw up nicely for a player to gain confidence with a title win.
First round matches to watch:
Sorana Cirstea vs (8) Irina Falconi
With such a depleted draw, it’s hard to really find a mouth-watering first round match-up, but this one stuck out. The reason being that Cirstea Is a former top 30 player who’s struggle with injuries has seen her plummet to 145 in the world. The Romanian has failed to win a single match since the US Open first round last year, so the 25-year-old will be looking to kick start her season in Bogota. Falconi, on the other hand, has seen her form rise in recent weeks with impressive victories over fellow Bogota seeds Ajla Tomljanovic and Monica Puig. The American even pushed Ana Ivanovic to three sets before eventually losing 6-3 in the final set. Cirstea does have one thing going for her, and that is the head to head, which reads 1-0 in favour of the Romanian. Their sole meeting came five years ago however, so it’s not much to go by. Falconi should win this match, but if Cirstea can channel her top 30 form, then the American could very well be taking an early flight home.
Alexandra Panova v (3) Ajla Tomljanovic
It is rare that a player outside the top 150 makes my ‘three to see’, but with this draw I suppose it was inevitable. The name Alexandra Panova might ring a bell to a lot of people. That is because the Russian pushed compatriot Maria Sharapova all the way to three sets at the Australian Open, even having match points to seal the upset. Since that great performance however, it has gone downhill for the 26-year-old, who now finds herself on a six match losing streak. Ajla Tomljanovic’s final run in Pattaya looked like it would get her season going, as she pursues the top 50. Unfortunately for the Croatian, she also found herself on a losing streak before winning in the opening round of Charleston last week. It is clear that both players will be using this tournament to play themselves back into form, and with the weak field, a deep run might be in order for the winner. Tomljanovic is rightfully the favourite, but streaks are there to be broken.
(4) Francesca Schiavone vs Teliana Pereira
Former Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone will be glad not to see Lin Zhu at the other side of the net after back to back losses to the Chinese player. After a struggle on the hard courts (minus a quarterfinal run in Antwerp), the Italian will be glad to get on the clay courts. This surface brought the fourth seed her biggest career success at the French Open five years ago, where she went all the way to become champion. That must feel like a long time ago, because the 34-year-old is now declining, and currently ranks 70 in the world. Teliana Pereira will be heading in to Bogota in good form and spirits after claiming an ITF title on clay last week. The Brazilian has found her form since hitting the clay courts two months ago, and she’ll see this as a good chance to claim the scalp of a former grand slam champion. With Pereira’s confidence sky high, an upset is likely in this match, so keep a close eye on this one.
Top Half Analysis
Top seed Elina Svitolina is the most striking name in the top half of the draw. The Ukrainian is the only top 50 player playing this week, and she’ll rightfully be the favourite to win the tournament. The world number 29 shouldn’t face any problems at all until at least the quarter finals where she’ll likely meet Irina Falconi. The American holds a clay court victory over the top seed, but Svitolina is a much improved player since then and should level their head to head here.
The second quarter is interesting with the possibility of an early exit for fourth seed Francesca Schiavone. The former Roland Garros champion will face an in-form Teliana Pereira in the opening round. As I touched upon in my matches to watch section, this has upset potential and could open the draw up for a surprise semi-finalist. Shelby Rogers will be looking to rubbish that notion however. The sixth seed faces a tough test against Lourdes Dominguez Lino in round one. The Spaniard recently won an ITF title on clay, and is well tested on this surface in 2015, so an upset is also possible here. All things considered the American should make the quarterfinals, but with the draw as it is, there could be first round exits for both seeds in this quarter.
Bottom Half Analysis
The bottom half of the draw seems to bring the more interesting potential quarterfinal matches with the likes of Monica Puig, Yaroslava Shvedova and Ajla Tomljanovic headlining this section. Tomljanovic will open against Alexandra Panova, before facing Glushko or a lucky loser/qualifier. You would expect with that draw the Croatian to make the quarter finals, but stranger things have happened in the WTA. Seventh seed Timea Babos will be her likely opponent, even though she faces a tough round two test against Tatjana Maria. The German recently made the round of 32 in Miami, defeating Eugenie Bouchard along the way. Despite that result, Babos will be the favourite and likely winner.
The bottom quarter could provide us with the most interesting potential quarterfinal match in the draw. Second seed Monica Puig is just outside the top 50, so the Puerto Rican will be looking to end the week on the right side of that benchmark. Yaroslava Shvedova recently returned from an injury, so this will be good preparation for her as we head into the Kazakh’s favourite part of the season. Providing everything goes according to ‘plan’, we should see a good match in the quarterfinals between these two. Nicole Gibbs in round two is the toughest test for Puig in the opening rounds, whilst Shvedova has a very kind draw. Shvedova leads the head to head 2-0 against Puig, including a victory at the Australian Open earlier in the year. With this being Shvedova’s best surface, I expect the Kazakh to advance providing she holds up well physically.
Svitolina def. Rogers in 2 sets
Shvedova def. Tomljanovic in 3 sets
Svitolina def. Shvedova in 3 sets
I believe the top seed will win this tournament. Svitolina is a consistent player and despite some dangerous players in the draw, she should use that trait to overcome the competition. Shvedova will have a good run to the final, but the Ukrainian’s consistency will shine through in three sets.