2016 WTA Doha Preview, Predictions @QatarTennis
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The tour moves from Dubai and Rio to the capital of Qatar for the Qatar Total Open in Doha. The tournament was founded in 2001 and the winners include Justine Henin, Martina Hingis and Monica Seles, as well as two-time winners Victoria Azarenka, Anastasia Myskina and Maria Sharapova.
Qatar Total Open
Location: Doha, Qatar
Prize money: $2,517,25
Date: February 21st– 27th
Top eight seeds who receive a BYE (Ranking)
- Angelique Keber (2)
- Simona Halep (3)
- Agnieszka Radwanska (4)
- Garbine Muguruza (5)
- Petra Kvitova (8)
- Belinda Bencic (9)
- Lucie Safarova (10)
- Carla Suarez Navarro (11)
No Serena and no Maria Sharapova here, but otherwise a strong field.
First round matches to watch
(9) Karolina Pliskova vs Margarita Gasparyan:
Two of the tour’s brightest young talents have been pitted together in the opening round.
Pliskova has not really ‘got going’ this year but she is still a hugely dangerous. With her power and serve she can beat anyone on any day, but her movement still remains a problem.
Many people have high expectations of Gasparyan this year as the Russian attempts to breakthrough the ranks. Gasparyan has the rare trait of using a one handed backhand and can produce big winners from that wing.
With Pliskova not in the best of form it might be worth looking at this match as a potential upset. It will also showcase two of the tours best young talent’s in their first meeting.
Barbora Strycova vs Kristina Mladenovic
Can Mladenovic avenge her doubles partner by defeating the in form Strycova in Doha?
Both players are known for their variety but they go about their games in different ways. Mladenovic is more attack orientated whilst Strycova is more of a counter puncher.
The Czech is the more in form of the two but her feisty characteristics means she can go off the rails at any time. It should be a fascinating contest with plenty of variety. The Frenchwoman leads the head to head 2-0.
(13) Caroline Wozniacki vs Ana Konjuh
Teenager Konjuh will face former world number one Wozniacki in a potential upset of a round one tie.
The Croatian is seen as one of the brightest prospects on tour and with Wozniacki not playing her best tennis, an upset might be on the cards.
The Dane has won their previous two meetings comfortably, can she make it a hat trick?
For the first time since the Australian Open triumph we will see Kerber in a tour event. The German’s success in Melbourne propelled her to number two in the world rankings and therefore has earned the top seeding for this event. Kerber will receive an opening round BYE before meeting Saisai Zhang or Varvara Lepchenko in round two. Elina Svitolina is scheduled for round three but the Ukrainian has not been at her best this season despite a good week in Dubai. A second round clash with Eugenie Bouchard could be interesting in the Canadian is near her best.
Petra Kvitova’s start to 2016 has left a lot to be desired but as we know, she can turn it on at any time. The Czech could use Doha as a launching pad for the season, but she has a tough round two awaiting her against the winner of Mladenovic vs Strycova. The door could be open for one of them to make the quarter finals with the ever unpredictable Svetlana Kuznetsova projected for round three. The Russian will play Julia Goerges in a rematch of the German’s demolition in Dubai so there could be an early exit for the two time grand slam champion.
Muguruza is another big name that has made a poor start to the season. The Spaniard has not looked right this year and has considered taking a small break to refresh. Is it pressure or is it something else? Either way the 22 year old could be in for another early exit with Nao Hibino or Yaroslava Shvedova scheduled to meet her in round two. Sara Errani, fresh off winning the Dubai title, might fancy her chances in taking advantage of an early Muguruza exit providing she is not too tired. The Italian faces Tsvetana Pironkova in round one before meeting Madison Brengle or Timea Babos in round two. A good chance for Errani to make the last eight.
Belina Bencic suffered an early exit last week so should be fairly fresh heading into Doha. The Swiss star could face dangerous American Coco Vandeweghe in round two with Pliskova projected for the third round. The Czech however has a tough draw with Gasparyan and the winner of Andrea Petkovic vs Ekaterina Makarova awaiting the winner. All four players are capable of making round three and potentially causing a lot of problems for Bencic.
The Pole will enter Doha as one of the favourites to take home the title. She has a fairly kind round two with Annika Beck likely to meet her there. The German is a solid player but will unlikely have the weapons to pose a big rest. Jelena Jankovic is projected for round three which could be an interesting clash. Sabine Lisicki or Moncia Niculescu could throw a spanner in those works however.
Defending champion, Safarova, will return to action to defend the title she surprisingly won 12 months a go. The Czech has struggled with injuries so will likely be slightly rusty when she returns to the court. Lucie Hradecka will likely welcome her compatriot back but Roberta Vinci might end her run in round three. The Italian has been in good form since ending Serena’s calendar year grand slam dreams in New York and will be the favourite to advance to the quarter finals. Lesia Tsurenko in round one is a tough prospect however.
Halep is another big name trying to find form this week but she could find it difficult against Caroline Garcia in round two. The Frenchwoman has had a solid start to the season but has yet to make a major breakthrough. Will Doha be her week? Caroline Wozniacki is the projected round three opponent but the Dane could struggle with Konjuh and Daria Gavrilova. The seeds are favourites to meet in the third round but the banana skins could open up the draw.
Carla Suarez Navarro is the other seed in this section that will receive an opening round BYE. The Spaniard will likely meet Donna Vekic in round two with Timea Bacsinszky in line for a round three. However the Swiss is not in the same form as she was last season so could lose early to Bethanie Mattek Sands in round one or Anna Schmiedlva/Yulia Putintseva in the second round.
Kerber def. Mladenovic
Errani def. Bencic
Radwanska def. Vinci
Halep def. Suarez Navarro
Kerber def. Errani
Radwanska def. Halep
Radwanska def. Kerber