2015 WTA Tokyo (Toray Pan Pacific Open) Preview and Predictions|
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The WTA tour stays in Tokyo for the second week straight, this time it is a Premier event on the agenda as some of the world’s top player’s fight for a place in the season ending finale.
The Toray Pan Pacific open began in 1984 as an indoor carpet event. It was upgraded to premier status in 1993 and changed to an indoor hard court in 2008.
Martina Hingis holds the record for the most titles with five. Ana Ivanovic is the current defending champion. Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki have also previously won this event.
Toray Pan Pacific Open:
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Surface: Indoor Hard
Prize Money: $881,100
Date: September 21st-27th 2015
Top 4 seeds who receive a 1st round BYE (Ranking)
1: Caroline Wozniacki (6)
2: Ana Ivanovic (7)
3: Garbine Muguruza (9)
4: Karolina Pliskova (10)
A good draw with players looking to book a world tour final place.
First round matches to watch:
(7) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Coco Vandeweghe
This should be a good contrast in styles as the finesse of Radwanska faces the big serving and hard hitting American Vandeweghe in the opening round.
The head to head reads 2-0 in favour of the Pole with all her victories coming decisively in straight sets. That included a 6-0, 6-2 victory in New Haven prior to the US Open. Indoor conditions should suit the American a little more as there is no wind to factor in the serve but Radwanska likes these courts being a former champion.
It is an interesting match-up due to the potential for an upset but the favourite is the 7th seed who should advance to the second round.
(5) Angelique Kerber vs Daria Gavrilova
Lucie Safarova and Maria Sharapova have been victims of the Gavrilova upset this year, now the Russian will look to add Premier Queen Kerber to that list.
The German holds a 3-0 head to head record against the 21 year old. All three victories came this year with the most recent being in Stanford. Kerber has won four Premier titles this year, proving herself to be at her best at these events.
Gavrilova is a fighter however, and her victories against Safarova and Sharapova have proven that she knows what it takes to beat the best. Can she do it again against Kerber?
Caroline Garcia vs Camila Giorgi
This battle between two heavy hitters could go either way. Both are looking for form and with a good draw the winner could potentially make a deep run.
Garcia holds the victory in their only clash which came earlier this year in the Fed Cup. The 21 year old came from a set down to win 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 on that occasion. But clay has proven to be Garcia’s best surface, whilst Giorgi has excelled in faster conditions.
The Frenchwoman has the more variety in her game, but when Giorgi is on there is not many players who can cope with her power. Garcia is a slight favourite, but this is a tough match to predict.
World number six, Wozniacki, comes in to Tokyo as the top seed. She failed to defend her final points from the US Open, so is looking to build her bid for a place at the year-end championships. The Dane receives a BYE in round one, but has a tricky round two potentially. Kristina Mladenovic should be her opponent in round two. The Frenchwoman was in fantastic form at the US Open where she made the quarter finals.
Out of the 5-8 seeds, Kerber was the one to avoid. The German has shown her best form in these events with four titles at this level in 2015. The German faces Gavrilova in a challenging round one. The winner will face either Zarina Diyas or Madison Brengle in round two in a match they should win.
It is an interesting week for the Wimbledon finalist. She has struggled with form, parted ways with her long-time coach and is now working Sam Sumyk. The Spaniard will open her tournament in round two against Barbora Strycova or Naomi Osaka. Both are interesting for different reasons, with Osaka being the home crowd favourite whilst Strycova offers a tricky game-style to contend with.
Belinda Bencic is back in action after a disappointing straight sets defeat to Venus Williams in New York. The 18 year old Swiss will play a qualifier in round one before likely facing the winner of Sam Stosur vs Alison Riske. If Stosur could get through we could be in for a very interesting match between the experienced Aussie and the young Bencic.
Despite not being able to find her best form in the majors, Karolina Pliskova is in the top 10 by virtue of her results at Premier and International level. This is the style of tournament she excels in, so we could see the best of the big serving Czech this week. She will receive a BYE in the opening round, before battling the crowd in her first match of the week. Misaki Doi or Kurumi Nara will await the fourth seed in round two.
Former champion, Radwanska, will look to add something to an otherwise disappointing season so far. The Pole has been dealt with a tough draw however, with Vandeweghe and young Ukrainian Elina Svitolina standing in the way of her and the quarter finals. Svitolina especially has been in good form and is on course for a top 20 finish
Ivanovic’s disappointing year has seen the Serbian ranked outside the top 20 in the race rankings. As the second seed, you’d might expect her to improve that position with a big run here, but I can assure you she winced when she saw her name next to Garcia’s. Assuming the Frenchwoman comes through, she has a 3-0 record against the second seed this year. Can Garcia add a fourth victory against Ivanovic to her top 10 scalps?
Carla Suarez Navarro’s have continued. She suffered her eighth straight defeat last week and is looking to re-kindle her early season form. The Spaniard has a kind draw with a qualifier in round one, but round two will be tricky against either Dominika Cibulkova or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Kerber def. Wozniacki
Bencic def. Muguruza
Radwanska def. Pliskova
Garcia def. Cibulkova
Kerber def. Bencic
Radwanska def. Garcia
Kerber def. Radwanska.
Yet again, Kerber loves these events so I am predicting to German to come through against Radwanska in the final. Youngsters Bencic and Garcia will have good runs with their draws but will ultimately fall short to their more experienced opponents in the semi finals.