2017 WTA Dubai Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The tour heads from Doha to Dubai for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships where Angelique Kerber is the top seed and Sara Errani the defending champion. Here is a run down of the 64 woman draw.
Top seed Kerber comes into Dubai out of sorts and out of form after another loss to Daria Kasatkina in Dubai. The German has a tough draw ahead of her too, starting in the second round where she will face either former world number one Jelena Jankovic or the talented but inconsistent Mona Barthel. Speaking of talent and inconsistency, Caroline Garcia is slated to meet the top seed in the third round, but the Frenchwoman has lacked match practice and could fall victim to Johanna Larsson in round one or Monica Puig in round two. The Puerto Rican could also provide a stern test for the world number two. It was around this time last year that Elena Vesnina started her climb back up the rankings, and a as a result she enters Dubai as the eighth seed and receives a bye into round two. The Russian is projected to face Sam Stosur in the third round, but the Aussie has a tough proposition in the from of rising youngster Ana Konjuh in the second round. The Croatian has a good chance of making the quarter final with her draw, and with Kerber out of sorts it is possible she might go further. There’s cause for concern for Kerber, but she has one thing going for her, a lot of her possible opponents are inconsistent. It could be a case where the top seed has to battle through some tough matches on her way to the final four
Prediction: Kerber def. Konjuh
Dominika Cibulkova is not struggling for form after making the semi-finals in Qatar. The Slovak may fancy herself to go one further in Dubai where she opens in the second round against what is likely to be Ekaterina Makarova. Cibulkova could face a few lefties on her way to the quarter finals, as qualifier Kristyna Pliskova could cause a lot of damage. The Czech has the potential to upset Roberta Vinci, and a second round match against a Lauren Davis who played well in Doha could be interesting. Elina Svitolina’s path to the last eight looks fairly promising as her section is full of low ranked or out of form players. Lara Arruabarrena or Saisai Zheng will entertain the Ukrainian in the second round, then it is likely Kiki Bertens in the third. A quarter final against Cibulkova looks likely and given the seventh seed already has a win against her higher ranked opponent under her belt, Svitolina’s week could turn even better with an upset.
Prediction: Svitolina def. Cibulkova
Quarter number three could be the most interesting of the four as the two highest ranked players in this section are both out of form. Could that leave the door open for somebody else to make the final four? Agnieszka Radwanska headlines this quarter and opens her tournament against Tsvetana Pironkova or Elise Mertens. The Pole is projected to face Yulia Putinsteva in round three, a player who is in decent form and could be dangerous, however I see Radwanska making the last eight without many issues. Fifth seed Garbine Muguruza just has not got her game together since the French Open last year. The Spaniard should have enough quality to make the third round where Caroline Wozniacki will likely be waiting. The Dane is in good form after making the Doha final, but she herself has a tough round one against Daria Kasatkina. Wozniacki should be feeling in good form though and will likely make her way through this section. The tenth seed also defeated Radwanska last week and may fancy her chances to do the same in Dubai.
Prediction: Wozniacki def. Radwanska
Karolina Pliskova is the most in form player on tour after winning the Doha title last week. The Czech may be the favourite in Dubai too, and with a first round byehas a decent rest before her round two match, likely against Kristina Mladenovic. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has the game to cause an upset but with Pliskova’s form the way it is, that is not looking likely. Johanna Konta’s withdrawal means Barbora Strycova is now the eighth seed and Pliskova’s potential quarter final opponent. An all-Czech battle could be on the horizon, but Strycova has a tough draw with Lesia Tsurenko possible for round two, and big hitting Coco Vandeweghe likely for round three. Either way it Is hard to look past Pliskova making it out of this section to set up a rematch with Wozniacki in the semi finals.
Prediction: Pliskova def. Strycova
Svitolina def. Kerber
Pliskova def. Wozniacki
Kerber’s form at the moment makes it so difficult to predict her matches. The German can turn it around in a heart beat, but Svitolina looks set to have a good year and I can see the Ukrainian pulling off the upset. Pliskova got the better of Wozniacki without many issues in Doha, and barring a dip in form it will likely be a repeat in Dubai
Pliskova def. Svitolina
It is too hard to go against the big serving Czech in this form. Svitolina can certainly cause problems as she possesses a great backhand and good movement, but overall she may lack the weapons to take the match away from Pliskova.