Wang Qiang, 2019 Bronx Open (Photo: Mike Renz for TennisAtlantic.com)
The Battle in the Bronx Heats Up for Quarterfinalists Steve Fogleman in the Bronx
It’s been a slow march at the Cary Leeds Center in the Bronx’s Crotona Park as the tournament scheduled four second round matches on Tuesday and Wednesday. Today’s four matches offer the survivors a place in the semifinals as a reward for their perseverance during this hot week in a tournament virtually isolated from the New York they’ve come to know and love.
Magda Linette, 2019 Bronx Open (Photo: Mike Renz for TennisAtlantic.com)
Including qualifying, Magda Linette has won five straight matches on the Bronx courts this week, embarrassing Aliaksandra Sasnovich with a 6-1, 6-4 win yesterday. She’d like to make it six in a row, but 10th seed Karolina Muchova stands in the way. The Czech dispatched the penultimate American in the draw, Kristie Ahn, 6-3, 6-1.
Camilla Giorgi, 2019 Bronx Open (Photo: Mike Renz)
It seems like Camilla Giorgi is on the cusp of another title. After a good run through the draw in Washington, she ended up in the final only to wilt in the notorious heat and humidity there. Coming back from injury, that wasn’t surprising. Her preparation over the last month suggests that she may be ready to rake in her third title. To do it, she’ll need to overcome the player with the most career titles left in the draw, Alize Cornet. It will not surprise me if the winner of this match takes home the Bronx Open gold-plated manhole cover on Saturday.
Wang Qiang has done all she’s needed to do to justify her #1 seeding. A rather routine win against Fiona Ferro yesterday gave her just enough court time to compete well today. Sometimes a bye can be a curse in a tournament, but she showed no signs of rust and should be in good form to edge past Anna Blinkova. The 20-year-old lucky loser stunned Mihaela Buzarnescu on Wednesday.
The last American standing, in singles or doubles, is Bernarda Pera. She’ll face the top seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw, Karolina Muchova. I’m sensing an upset here as Pera’s shown signs of improved confidence with her matchplay this month.
RESULTS – AUGUST 21, 2019
Singles – Second Round
 Q. Wang (CHN) d [Q] F. Ferro (FRA) 61 64
[Q] M. Linette (POL) d  A. Sasnovich (BLR) 61 64
 K. Muchova (CZE) d [WC] K. Ahn (USA) 63 61
[LL] A. Blinkova (RUS) d M. Buzarnescu (ROU) 16 63 63
Doubles – Semifinals
 D. Jurak (CRO) / M. Martinez Sanchez (ESP) d  H. Chan (TPE) / L. Chan (TPE) 16 63 12-10
S. Aoyama (JPN) / A. Krunic (SRB) d R. Olaru (ROU) / Z. Yang (CHN) 06 61 11-9
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, AUGUST 22, 2019
VICTOR KIAM STADIUM start 11:00 am
 K. Siniakova (CZE) vs [WC] B. Pera (USA)
 K. Muchova (CZE) vs [Q] M. Linette (POL)
C. Giorgi (ITA) vs A. Cornet (FRA)
 Q. Wang (CHN) vs [LL] A. Blinkova (RUS)
PERSHING SQUARE STADIUM start 12:00 pm
M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) vs S. Aoyama (JPN) / A. Krunic (SRB)
Windy Wednesday at Volvo Car Open Leaves 16 Standing Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
The winds picked up on Wednesday at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, South Carolina and swept 16 players into the third round. It also swept a few seeded players out of the action.
Naomi Osaka hasn’t dropped a set yet and looked good in a 6-3, 7-6(8) win over Laura Siegemund on Stadium court. Osaka opens today’s schedule against Julia Goerges, who needed three sets to dispatch Kristie Ahn yesterday.
Naomi Osaka (Photo: Tony Callaio)
Irina Begu beat American Claire Liu, 6-4, 6-2 yesterday and will face defending champ Daria Kasatkina.
Alize Cornet (Photo: Tony Callaio)
Looking to book a spot in the quarterfinal is today’s “Quartier Francaise” matchup: Top seed Caroline Garcia vs. compatriot Alize Cornet. Cornet has looked strong this week as she notched another quick straight sets victory, this time over Polona Hercog. I think Cornet has a good chance of notching the upset tonight.
Camila Giorgi (Photo: Tony Callaio)
Camila Giorgi stepped up her game to overcome a resurgent Daria Gavrilova in three sets yesterday and earned the right to play Madison Keys, who needed three sets to dispatch Lara Arruabuena.
Fanny Stollar (Photo: Tony Callaio)
Johanna Konta was one and done after Fanny Stollar dominated her in straight sets. Stollar is on to the round of 16 for the second year in a row here. Stollar plays Kiki Bertens this afternoon.
The big upset of the day was reserved for Petra Kvitova and the best thing you could say about the match is that Kvitova never saw it coming. After she grabbed a routine 6-1 first set, Kvitova seemed the spectator and lost the last two sets badly to Kristyna Pliskova, 6-1. 6-3. Pliskova draws Elena Vesnina.
RESULTS – APRIL 4, 2018 Women’s
Singles – Second Round
K. Pliskova (CZE) d  P. Kvitova (CZE) 16 61 63
 J. Goerges (GER) d K. Ahn (USA) 26 64 76(1)
[Q] F. Stollar (HUN) d  J. Konta (GBR) 63 64
 M. Keys (USA) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) 61 36 63
 A. Sevastova (LAT) d [Q] C. Dolehide (USA) 75 67(5) 61
 A. Barty (AUS) d T. Maria (GER) 46 63 62
 N. Osaka (JPN) d L. Siegemund (GER) 63 76(8)
C. Giorgi (ITA) d  D. Gavrilova (AUS) 62 26 63
 K. Bertens (NED) d A. Krunic (SRB) 64 62
 I. Begu (ROU) d [Q] C. Liu (USA) 64 62
 A. Cornet (FRA) d P. Hercog (SLO) 62 63
[WC] S. Errani (ITA) d  M. Buzarnescu (ROU) 36 76(5) 62
 E. Vesnina (RUS) d T. Townsend (USA) 64 61
B. Pera (USA) d [LL] D. Yastremska (UKR) 76(4) 16 64
Doubles – First Round
K. Bondarenko (UKR) / A. Krunic (SRB) d  B. Krejcikova (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) 62 16 10-5
M. Buzarnescu (ROU) / H. Watson (GBR) d [WC] M. Doi (JPN) / C. Mchale (USA) 36 63 10-8
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2018 VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 11:00 am
 J. Goerges (GER) vs  N. Osaka (JPN)
 I. Begu (ROU) vs  D. Kasatkina (RUS)
C. Giorgi (ITA) vs  M. Keys (USA)
 K. Bertens (NED) vs [Q] F. Stollar (HUN)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 C. Garcia (FRA) vs  A. Cornet (FRA)
A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs  B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / A. Sestini Hlavackova (CZE)
ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 11:00 am
 A. Sevastova (LAT) vs  A. Barty (AUS)
Not Before 12:00 noon
B. Pera (USA) vs [WC] S. Errani (ITA)
 E. Vesnina (RUS) vs K. Pliskova (CZE)
 A. Klepac (SLO) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP) vs [WC] L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / S. Errani (ITA)
Naomi Osaka, 2018 Volvo Car Open (Photo: Tennis Atlantic)
Volvo Car Open Heats Up as Round 1 Winds Down Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
The weather heated up in Charleston in yesterday and so did the level of play at the first round of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston. Alize Cornet was the first winner of the day, a quick 6-1, 6-2 victory over Kateryna Bondarenko. Polona Hercog looked strong in her debut match over Maryna Zanevska, 6-1, 6-4. The ugliest score of the day had to be Aleksandra Krunic’s 6-2, 6-2 whipping of Bethanie Mattek-Sands. I’d seen Mattek-Sands practice a couple of times this week and she looked tentative and way less than 100%.
Polona Hercog, 2018 Volvo Car Open (Photo: Tennis Atlantic)
Naomi Osaka looked very much like she still has a hot streak in her as she closed the door on Jen Brady, 6-4, 6-4 on Billie Jean King stadium court.
Caroline Dolehide proved her qualifying was no fluke as she advanced to the second round by way of a 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 upset over Johanna Larsson. Dolehide meets Anastasia Sevastova in round 2.
Laura Siegemund, 2018 Volvo Car Open (Photo: Tennis Atlantic)
Laura Siegemund, 2018 Volvo Car Open (Photo: Tennis Atlantic)
Laura Siegemund is back to her winning ways in Charleston and was pretty ecstatic about the whole affair. After finishing off Natalia Vikhlyantseva, 7-5, 6-2, she made a bee line for her coach and gave him a warm hug, the likes of which you’d expect if she’d won a final.
RESULTS – APRIL 2, 2018
Singles – First Round
 N. Osaka (JPN) d J. Brady (USA) 64 64
 D. Gavrilova (AUS) d O. Jabeur (TUN) 16 64 63
 K. Bertens (NED) d V. Cepede Royg (PAR) 64 61
 A. Cornet (FRA) d K. Bondarenko (UKR) 61 62
 M. Buzarnescu (ROU) d [Q] V. Lapko (BLR) 64 00 Retired
V. Lepchenko (USA) d A. Petkovic (GER) 64 75
P. Hercog (SLO) d [Q] M. Zanevska (BEL) 61 64
A. Krunic (SRB) d [WC] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) 62 62
[Q] F. Stollar (HUN) d [Q] F. di Lorenzo (USA) 75 61
B. Pera (USA) d J. Cepelova (SVK) 62 62
C. Giorgi (ITA) d [Q] S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 61 64
L. Siegemund (GER) d N. Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 75 62
C. Mchale (USA) d Z. Diyas (KAZ) 64 62
[Q] C. Dolehide (USA) d J. Larsson (SWE) 57 60 64
Doubles – First Round
 A. Klepac (SLO) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP) d A. Rosolska (POL) / A. Spears (USA) 61 63
[WC] L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / S. Errani (ITA) d T. Maria (GER) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 64 75
VOLVO CAR OPEN – CHARLESTON, USA
APRIL 2 – 8, 2018
ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 10:00 am
S. Kenin (USA) vs  A. Barty (AUS)
K. Ahn (USA) vs S. Stosur (AUS)
E. Bouchard (CAN) vs [WC] S. Errani (ITA)
 C. Garcia (FRA) vs V. Lepchenko (USA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
C. Mchale (USA) vs  D. Kasatkina (RUS)
 G. Dabrowski (CAN) / Y. Xu (CHN) vs R. Atawo (USA) / A. Groenefeld (GER)
ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
H. Watson (GBR) vs T. Townsend (USA)
 E. Vesnina (RUS) vs M. Brengle (USA)
L. Davis (USA) vs T. Maria (GER)
K. Siniakova (CZE) vs K. Pliskova (CZE)
COURT 3 start 10:00 am
[Q] C. Liu (USA) vs M. Linette (POL)
 I. Begu (ROU) vs [Q] G. Garcia Perez (ESP)
N. Melichar (USA) / K. Peschke (CZE) vs A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / K. Srebotnik (SLO)
S. Aoyama (JPN) / Z. Yang (CHN) vs  B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / A. Sestini Hlavackova (CZE)
COURT 4 start 11:00 am
B. Haddad Maia (BRA) vs L. Arruabarrena (ESP)
M. Adamczak (AUS) / L. Kichenok (UKR) vs N. Kichenok (UKR) / An. Rodionova (AUS)
With many top players taking part, Monica Puig vs Kuznetsova was not the final anyone expected pre tournament. Both played fantastically well to get to the final, but only one carried that form over.
Just hours after finishing her rain delayed semi final against Simona Halep in which she won 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, the Russian outclassed Puig 6-0, 6-2 in just 55 minutes.
“It’s great. I mean, honestly, I didn’t expect this, but I’ve also never gone into a tournament thinking about winning, never even once,” Kuznetsova said after the match.
“I just went out there and performed, and everything went my way. Now I just want to keep focused for the Australian Open.”
It was quite the effort given the marathon against the top seed just hours before. This is Kuznetsova’s 16th WTA title, two of which are Grand Slams.
“Actually somebody asked me before the match, the supervisor, ‘How do you feel?’ Everybody probably thinks because I’m 30 that I’m really old and need to pick myself up. But I felt great. I felt better than most days here. First matches of the year you’re sore, but after you get going, it’s great.”
It was still a wonderful week for Puig who made her first Premier final this week.
“There wasn’t really too much I could do. I definitely ran around the court and tried to get every single ball I could back, but the only answer I have today is that she was the better player,” Puig commented.
“I had an incredible week coming through qualifying, my first time here in Sydney, and I made my first final of a Premier tournament. Overall it was a very good week and I’m very happy about it.
“I’m really not going to get disheartened about this final. She just played unbelievable.”
Meanwhile in Hobart, Cornet eased to victory over Eugenie Bouchard to claim her first title in nearly two years. The Frenchwoman only dropped three games as she destroyed the Canadian 6-1, 6-2 in just over an hour.
“I was very focused for the whole tournament and the whole match today, and now I can let go!” Cornet told press after the match. “To start the year this way, it’s the best.”
Cornet broke the Bouchard serve seven times in the match and claimed her first victory over her opponent. Bouchard had won their previous two meetings.
“Each time we’ve played against each other, it was a tough battle and at least two hours, three sets or two tight sets.” Cornet added.
“This time, I was just a little bit better from the beginning of the match. I was patient, trying to be aggressive but trying to play the right shot at the right time. It all worked out my way today, and it’s just great to have an easy final like this because finals are already so emotional
2015 WTA Rome Preview, Predictions Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
2015 WTA Rome Preview
From Madrid to Rome we head to the second Premier event in as many weeks for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
The annual clay court event has become one of the most prestigious outside of Roland Garros, with a whole host of top players having the honour of being called champion.
Serena Williams has won the past two tournaments here, with Sharapova winning the two prior to them. Chris Evert has won Roma more times than anyone with five titles. Gabriela Sabatini and Conchita Martínez, are just behind with four titles.
Internazionali BNL d’Italia Tier: Premier
Location: Rome, Italy
Prize Money: $ 2,707,664
Date: May 11th – May 17th 2015
Top 8 seeded players (Ranking)
1. Serena Williams (1)
2. Simona Halep (2)
3. Maria Sharapova (3)
4. Petra Kvitova (4)
5. Caroline Wozniacki (5)
6. Eugenie Bouchard (6)
7. Ana Ivanovic (7)
8. Ekaterina Makarova (8)
All the top players have entered this prestigious event.
First round matches to look out for:
(12) Venus Williams vs Garbine Muguruza:
Venus Williams must be cursing her luck with draws recently, as she’s got yet another difficult round one test, this time against Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza hasn’t been on the best of form since her losses to Pliskova earlier in the year, but the Spaniard has a great clay court game as proven by her French Open run in 2014. For her, this is a big test of her potential to perhaps be a future number one, as she’ll be facing one of the greatest players of this generation. Venus’ clay court season didn’t get off to the best start in Madrid as she was downed by Victoria Azarenka in straight sets. Despite this being her weakest surface, Venus is still a threat at 34 years of age and will no doubt test the rising Muguruza.
The pair have met two times before on hard courts with Venus winning both times, but Muguruza has come a long way since Auckland last year and is the better clay courter at the moment. Expect a heavy hitting battle with lots of winners and errors. It will likely come down to who can sustain a good level more consistently.
(11) Karolina Pliskova vs Timea Bacsinszky
This potentially great encounter pitches two of the biggest success stories of 2015 against each other. Pliskova’s rise up the rankings during the early part of the season has seen her almost crack the top 10, whilst Timea Bacsinszky’s comeback has been nothing short of admirable.
Karolina Pliskova proved her clay doubters wrong with a solid run in Prague last week, taking the title in her home country. The big serving Czech’s form has seen her rise to 5th in the WTA race rankings. Despite a loss to Caroline Garcia in Madrid, Pliskova will be full of confidence heading into Rome.
Timea Bacsinszky has comeback better than ever after her break from tennis. The Swiss Is 13th in the race rankings and has won two titles this year in Mexico. Timea lost to Maria Sharapova last week in Madrid, but that shouldn’t derail her confidence.
This has the potential to go the distance, with the match seemingly being very close on paper. Bacsinszky won their only previous meeting last year at the Canadian masters. Make sure to catch this one when play kicks off.
(9) Angelique Kerber vs Alize Cornet It seems like Alize Cornet is more likely to defeat a top 10 player than a player ranked outside the top 50 these days. The Frenchwoman has scored victories over Serena Williams and most recently Simona Halep in Madrid. Maybe Cornet drawing the ninth seeded Kerber was a blessing for her?
Or maybe it was a curse, as Keber leads their head to head 2-0 including a victory on clay two years ago in Madrid. The German has been in tremendous form on the clay despite her loss to Sam Stosur last week. Kerber claimed titles in Stuttgart and Charleston on the dirt. It could very well have been the big turning point in an otherwise difficult season.
Alize Cornet has struggled to string together victories recently, and that has seen her drop outside the top 20. Despite upsetting Halep in the opening round of Madrid, she slumped to Roberta Vinci in the following round. However, it seems that Cornet brings her best against the top 10 and this could very well be another one of them occasions.
Top Half: When the two best clay courters of the past few years are drawn in the same half you have to expect fireworks, and that’s what we will get when the two biggest names in the WTA, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova step on court.
Serena will open her defence of the Roma title against the winner of the Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Sam Stosur opening round clash. Serena will no doubt be hungry to defend her title, and thus she shouldn’t have too many problems in the opening rounds. The third round will likely be Barbora Strycova or Sara Errani, both of which the world number one should win. The quarter finals onwards will be where it gets most interesting with Ana Ivanovic being the projected opponent, though her road to that stage is very difficult. Talented youngster Belinda Bencic is a likely round two opponent for the Serb, and if she is to get through that she will face either Sabine Lisicki, Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova or Timea Bacsinszky, all of which have potential to be very tricky.
Maria Sharapova could find herself in a Wozniacki rematch if things go according to seeding in the second quarter. The pair met in Madrid in a feisty match-up that was filled with tension, so a rematch could provide even more drama. Of course, both players must navigate their way through a tough quarter before we can speculate what is going to happen. Sharapova should have little trouble to round three at the earliest with Caroline Garcia (Another rematch with a lot of tension) being a possible opponent at that stage. It’s not set in stone however with 15th seed Madison Keys and Madison Brengle competing in an all American first round clash. Both players also have the potential to go far. Sharapova’ clay record recently speaks for its self so she’ll be the huge favourite to make the quarter finals. She’ll be a bigger favourite than Wozniacki at least, who could face a resurging Victoria Azarenka in round two. The Belarusian came within centimetres of defeating Serena Williams in Madrid, so she’s in good form. One must beg the question however, how did that loss affect Azarenka mentally? The winner of that blockbuster round two match will be likely facing Kerber or Begu in the third round. Kerber will be the favourite, but Begu showed some good tennis in Madrid, so an upset is entirely possible. It’s most certainly an interesting quarter, and no matter which one of the three likely quarter final opponents will square off against Sharapova. It will likely be a great match.
The two top seeds in this half of the draw had a complete contrast in fortunes in Madrid. Petra Kvitova will be riding high after winning the title in the Spanish capital, whilst Simona Halep will be looking to make up for a disappointing opening round loss to Alize Cornet.
Kvitova’s BYE will mean she’ll get some rest at least, but when she returns she could be facing some of the home crowd favourites. First will be the winner of Karin Knapp vs Francesca Schiavone, and then it could be fellow big hitter Camila Giorgi in the third round. Giorgi lost disappointingly to Tsvetana Pironkova in Madrid, but with the Italian crowd behind her she might just get the boost she needs. Will it be enough to beat Kvitova? A lot of that depends on how Kvitova is feeling after going all the way in Madrid. Sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard is enduring a bit of a slump at the moment, and with French Open semi-final points to defend, the Canadian needs to start finding her form fast. Pironkova or Zarina Diyas could send her packing early yet again, so Bouchard must come in with the right mind-set. The favourite for the quarter final might just be Carla Suarez Navarro, who is having one of her best seasons to date. The Spaniard made the quarter finals of Madrid before losing to Serena Williams, and looking at her draw another deep run is possible. Mona Barthel isn’t in good form, and the Roberta Vinci vs Heather Watson winner shouldn’t be a problem for Navarro.
Simona Halep’s early exit in Madrid was a shock, but now the Romanian will be on a mission to make up for that disappointing loss. The world number two’s first real test will likely come in round three, where none of the potential four opponents will be favourable. Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza, Flavia Pennetta, or Elina Svitolina will meet Halep in the round of 16. That is difficult. Muguruza might be most people’s favourite, but given her recent form she could easily exit early. Halep should advance from the section, but an early exit won’t be surprising either. Ekaterina Makarova could have potentially re-matched Svetlana Kuznetsova, but the Russian was injured during the Madrid final so is now a doubt for Rome. With a lot of qualifiers in the section, it should be Makarova vs Safarova in round three, which will be a good battle of the powerful lefties. Safarova performed better in Madrid, so the form favours the Czech.
Quarter Finals: Serena def. Pliskova in 2 sets
Sharapova def. Azarenka in 3 sets
Kvitova def. Suarez Navarro in 2 sets
Halep def. Safarova in 2 sets
Semi Finals: Serena def. Sharapova in 2 sets
Halep def. Kvitova in 2 sets
2015 WTA Antwerp (@WTAdiamondgames) and Pattaya City Previews and Predictions Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The WTA tour took a week long break following the conclusion of the Australian Open, so the first round of the Fed Cup could be played. And after an exciting weekend of nationalistic action, the tour is back with visits to Belgium and Thailand, both are hard court events with Antwerp indoors and Pattaya City outdoors.
2015 WTA Antwerp Preview
The tour returns to Antwerp for the first time since 2008 for the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond games. The tournament director is none other than Belgian tennis legend Kim Clijsters, who won this title 11 years ago. Other previous champions include former grand slam champions: Venus Williams, Justine Henin, and Amelie Mauresmo. So who will join them on the honours list this year?
BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games
WTA Premier Series
Feb 9-Feb 15, 2015
Prize Money: $731,000
Top 4 seeds (Who receive first round byes) (WTA ranking in parentheses)
Four top 15 players get byes into the second round making it a fairly strong field.
First round matches to watch:
(5)Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Camila Giorgi
These two met in Katowice last year, and it was the big hitting Italian who came out on top 7-6,6-4. Despite that, Suarez Navarro will head into this match as the bookies favourite as she’s the higher ranked player and more experienced of the two. The Spaniard is a rare player in that she plays with a single handed backhand. It’s a shot that will be crucial if she is to overcome Giorgi as the Italian is one of the biggest hitters on tour. The 23 year old will look to dictate from the baseline with her powerful ground strokes, whilst on the other side of the net, Suarez Navarro will look to use her variety to move Giorgi around the court and not let her slip into any rhythm. A contrast of form, and style here, so this should be an interesting match the follow.
(7)Alize Cornet vs. Belinda Bencic
Bencic hasn’t had the best of starts to 2015. In fact she has yet to win a single set so far this year, but don’t let that stat fool you; the girl is still very talented. The world number 37 faces world number 19 Alize Cornet in the opening round in Antwerp. Cornet has lost 2 tour matches this year to Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova, but unlike her opponent she has also won two matches, both of which at the Australian Open. The two met in the Fed Cup last year with Cornet coming out on top, but the landscape has changed since then. Bencic has improved, meaning this match has potential to be a good one, if the Swiss’ form has improved of course.
The number one seed Eugenie Bouchard has the fortune of a bye to the second round. She will meet either Mona Barthel or a qualifier in her first match under new coach Sam Sumyk. It will be too early to see any improvements, but it’s still interesting to see where the Canadian’s form lies after the Australian Open. Barthel can be dangerous, especially from the backhand side, but she’s still finding form after an injury. In the second section of this quarter, Cornet will be the bookies favourite, but there’s a lot of talent who could send the Frenchwoman packing. Belinda Bencic is in terrible form, so it’s hard to back her against the 7th seed, Cornet. Awaiting her will be the winner of Yania Wickmayer and Barbora Zahalova Strycova. The Belgian is in good form after making the fourth round in Melbourne, and will no doubt have the backing of the crowd. Strycova is the better player overall however, and has made a positive start to the season. With the home crowd behind her, I can see Wickmayer defeating her higher ranked opponent in the first round. But the Belgians will be disappointed to see her lose to Cornet in round two. Bouchard should make the quarter finals without much trouble to face the Frenchwoman for a semi final spot. Power players seem to give Bouchard the most trouble, but Cornet isn’t a big hitter. I feel Bouchard will make the semi final from this quarter.
Third seed Andrea Petkovic headlines the second quarter, and like Bouchard, The German has a bye to the second round. She will face either wildcard Alison Van Uytvanck or Magdalena Rybarikova in round two in a match the 27 year old should expect herself to win, no matter who she faces. Sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova is the other seeded player in this section. The 2014 Australian Open runner up will face a qualifier in round one before likely meeting Tsevtana Pironkova in round two. The Bulgarian met Cibulkova at the Australian Open, but unfortunately it was rather a blowout for the Slovak. 6-2,6-0 was the final result, so I will favour Cibulkova to make the quarter finals here. The German leads the head to head 2-1, with their last two meetings ending in straight sets wins for Petkovic. But Cibulkova is in far better form at the moment, so I feel she should make the semi finals.
Second seed Angelique Kerber is the only other top 10 player in the draw, and the German receives a bye into round two. Klara Koukalova will likely await the world number nine there, as the Czech faces a qualifier in round one. Koukalova has only won one match in 2014, and with Kerber being overall the stronger player, the German should make the quarter finals without much fuss. Fifth seed Carla Suarez Navarro finds herself in this quarter, and has a tough round one prospect in Camila Giorgi. The Italian is in the better form, and won their last meeting so I can see the Spaniard taking an early exit. Belgium will pin their hopes on former Wimbledon semi finalist, Kirsten Flipkens to take the title in Antwerp, but she faces crafty Romanian Monica Niculescu in round one. Only two places separate them in the rankings, but with the head to head 2-0 in favour of the Belgian I will go with Flipkens to make round two with the home crowd backing her. Giorgi vs Flipkens will be interesting, as the Belgian has the fans and the head to head on her side. In good form, Giorgi is just very powerful and dangerous so I will predict the Italian to make the Quarter Finals. That will set up the first meeting between Camila Giorgi and Angelique Kerber. This match will be the classic big hitter vs counter puncher encounter and therefore it will be interesting to see which style wins. I think this one has three sets written all over it, and I will predict a come from behind win for Kerber. Something we have come to expect from the German recently.
Number four seed Lucie Safarova receives a bye into round two where she’ll face either Kristina Mladenovic or Silvia Soler-Espinosa. Mladenovic shouldn’t have many problems dispatching her Spanish opponent to meet Safarova in round two. Safarova lost to Yaroslava Shvedova in Melbourne so isn’t in great form, but she should have enough about her to power through the Frenchwoman and reach the quarter finals. Rising star Karolina Pliskova will look to make it a great two weeks for the family. Her sister Kristyna won the Glasgow ITF event this week, and Karolina will look to do the same in Antwerp. The 8th seed faces experienced Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the opening round. If Pliskova can show the form that lead her to the Sydney final then she shouldn’t have much trouble making the quarter finals. It will likely be Annika Beck in the second round, who is a good solid player, but the German doesn’t really have many weapons to trouble the Czech. I believe we will see an all Czech quarterfinal, which will undoubtedly be a big hitting contest. My prediction will be Pliskova because she showed better form in Australia, and Safarova is very inconsistent.
Semis: Cibulkova d. Bouchard in 3 sets
Kerber d. Pliskova in 3
Cibulkova showed good form at the Australian Open, and I expect her to continue her good play here. Cibulkova hits the ball hard and Bouchard has shown she can be prone to players who can over-power her.
Pliskova defeated Kerber in Sydney, but I can’t see that performance being replicated here. The likely outcome is that the German grinds down the Czech for a three set win.
Kerber d. Cibulkova in 3
This is a good chance for Kerber to win her first title of the season, and I believe she will take it. The German lost early in Melbourne, so she’ll use this tournament to put herself back on track.
the Thailand open has grown in stature since its debut on tour in 1991. In 2009 the event was upgraded to an International from a tier IV tournament. Previous champions include the likes of Cochita Martinez, Daniela Hantuchova, and Vera Zvonareva. Last years edition was won by Ekaterina Makarova.
PTT Thailand Open WTA International Series
Pattaya City, Thailand
Feb 9-Feb 15. 2015
Prize Money: $250,000
(3)Zarina Diyas vs. Daniela Hantuchova
Third seed Zarina Diyas could have hardly asked for a tougher draw in round one than Daniela Hantuchova. The pair met in Hobart, and Diyas was victorious in straight sets, however Hantuchova’s form has improved since, and she’s a former champion here, so this one should be a closer encounter. Diyas has stagnated since making a climb up the rankings last year, with her main issue being her incapability to beat higher ranked opponents. The young Kazakh is fairly good at handling lower ranked players though, so I think she’ll win yet again, but it will be harder than last time.
(2)Elina Svitolina vs. Kimiko Date-Krumm Not all matches to watch are on the basis on how competitive they are. The story of Date-Krumm just keeps going on and on, just like her career. The Japanese start turns 45 this year, and yet she is still playing in the main draws at WTA events. Her opponent Elina Svitolina is young enough to be her daughter, and the Ukrainian leads the head to head 1-0. Svitolina should win this comfortably on her title quest, but it’s always great to see Date-Krumm on court.
Headlining the top half of the draw will be world number 21 Shuai Peng. The 29 year old should have no problems reaching the quarter finals, as none of her potential opponents before that stage should offer any problems. The other seeded player in this quarter is young gun Monica Puig. The number seven seed showed some promise in 2014, but like Diyas, hasn’t kicked on since. The Puerto Rican has a tough round one against talented Swiss Stephanie Voegele. The head to head is 2-1 in the favour of Puig, so it’s hard not to back her here. A Voegele win wouldn’t be any sort of surprise however. The likely round two opponent will be Elena Vesnina, who has fallen down the rankings since reaching a career high 21 in 2013. Puig is currently the better player, so I expect her to reach the quarter finals. I don’t see the young star going any further though, as she’ll likely fall to top seed Peng in the quarter finals.
Fourth seed Kurumi Nara will start her tournament against local wildcard Nicha Lertpitaksinchai. I predict Yulia Putintseva to meet the Japanese in round two, where I’d expect Nara to be too good for the Kazakh. Jarmila Gadjosova is the sixth seed and will face a qualifier in round one. Facing a qualifier is always a lottery because there are a lot of dangerous players who are lower ranked on the WTA tour, but I am not sure there are many who could beat the Aussie. Ajla Tomljanovic wil be her probable round two opponent. This will be interesting as it’s an all Aussie clash, and there’s a fair chance of an ‘upset’ here. Either way both like to strike the ball hard, and it should be a tight battle. I believe the winner would beat Nara, who has a steady game but lacks real weapons. If I had to predict a winner from this quarter I will go for Gadjosova, as she is in good form after the Fed Cup.
Second seed Elina Svitolina is the favourite for the title in many people’s eyes. She should beat 44 year old Kimiko Date-Krumm in the opening round without too much trouble. In the second round I believe she’ll face Marina Erakovic. The New Zealander won their last meeting in 2013, but Svitolina is much improved since then so I expect the young Ukrainian to make the quarter finals at least. The other seed in this section is Shuai Zhang. She’ll face an out of sorts Donna Vekic in the opening round, and with the Croatians recent form at the Fed cup, I predict Zhang to win comfortably. Former Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva has received a Wildcard into the main draw, and she hasn’t got a bad draw. I’d actually make her the favourite to reach the quarter finals where she will likely loose to the consistent Elina Svitolina.
Zarina Diyas is the third seed here, and the favourite to advance from her quarter, but there is some tough competition for her in this section. Firstly the Kazakh must work her way through Daniela Hantuchova. As I touched on in my matches to watch section, this should be closer than their previous meeting, but I expect Diyas to be too consistent for the Slovak. Sasai Zheng will await in the second round. Zhang played well in Shenzhen, even defeating Diyas in the quarter finals. The Chinese player hasn’t won a match since however. Their last match was close, so I will go with Diyas in three to make the quarter finals. There I predict her to meet fifth seed Yaroslava Shvedova. The talented Kazakh is one of the most dangerous players on tour, and recently had a decent run in Melbourne. In this all Kazakh clash we will see a mix of styles as Shvedova looks to be aggressive whilst Diyas will look to be consistent and counter Slava. With Shvedova’s recent form I believe she will have enough about her to beat Diyas on this occasion.
Gadjosova d. Peng in 2
Svitolina d. Shvedova in 3
Gadjosova pushed the Germans to their limits in the Fed Cup, so comes into this tournament in good form. Peng is consistent, but Gadjosova possesses the bigger weapons so I will predict the Aussie to win in 2 sets. Shvedova vs Svitolina will likely be a close battle, but with Shvedova’s tendency to struggle to close matches out from winning positions, I expect the Ukrainian to prevail from a set down.
2015 WTA Sydney Preview andPredictions Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
2015 WTA Sydney Preview
The WTA continues its tour down under with a trip to the beautiful city of Sydney for the APIA International tournament. The event is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1885. In 2000, the event moved to the Sydney Olympic park tennis centre, which also hosted the Olympic tennis event that year. The Sydney International is a joint event with the ATP hosted a week before the Australian Open. Previous champions include the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Aga Radwanska and Grand Slam champions Chris Evert, Kim Clijsters, Martina Hingis, Justine Henin, and Martina Navratilova.
In 2014 Tsvetana Pironkova defeated Angelique Kerber in straight sets to claim the Sydney crown. The Qualifier also defeated seeds, Sara Errani and Petra Kvitova on her way to the title.
Apia Sydney International WTA Premier Series Sydney, Australia January 11-January 16, 2015
Prize Money: $731,000
Top 2 Seeds (Who receive first round byes) (WTA ranking in parentheses)
1: Simona Halep (3)
2: Petra Kvitova (4)
Two top 4 players headline Sydney, and receive byes to the next round. All the 8 seeds are within the top 20, so a strong field in the build up to the Australian Open.
First round matchups to watch:
(3)Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Alize Cornet These two met in Perth during the Hopman cup, and it was Alize Cornet who managed get the win on that occasion in 3 sets. The Frenchwomen will be looking to do the same in the first round at Sydney. Agnieszka Radwanska however will be looking for revenge, and with that in mind this is one of the tastiest first round matches this week. Both players are known more for their technique rather than power, so we may see plenty of long rallies and tense points. Will we see another upset, or will Aga reign supreme this time?
Lucie Safarova vs. Sam Stosur
Big hitting Czech Lucie Safarova will be looking to silence the home crowd by vanquishing Australia’s Sam Stosur. Safarova played well in the Hopman Cup, winning two out of three singles matches. Stosur didn’t kick off the year in good style as she lost in 3 sets to Varvara Lepchenko in Brisbane round 1. It’s even worse when you consider, Stosur led 5-1 in the final set and still managed to lose. A lot of fans may be looking at this, and thinking ‘How could this be a match to look out for with their head to head record?’ Of course, 9-2 in favour of the Czech is lopsided, but you never know in the WTA. Lucie is hot right now and the obvious favourite, but you never know what a home crowd can do for a player. Stosur could rally and get her first win over the Czech in nearly 3 years.
Elina Svitolina vs. Ekaterina Makarova 20 year old, Elina Svitolina will be looking to carry her Brisbane form into Sydney, where she faces new top 10 player Ekaterina Makarova in the first round. The Ukrainian made the quarter finals last week, but was dumped out by eventual winner Maria Sharapova. Makarova decided to have an extra week’s preparation, and will kick off her 2015 campaign in Sydney. Svitolina is a good mover across the court, which will benefit her against the powerful left handers of the Russian. Makarova will look to overpower the youngster and kick off 2015 the same way she finished 2014. The big question is how rusty will Makarova be? If she isn’t match ready, she could very well get caught off guard by the young Ukrainian.
Number one seed Simona Halep headlines a stacked top half of the draw that features eight top 20 players and a former Grand Slam finalist. The Romanian will receive a bye into the second round because of her seeding. She will face either big serving Czech Karolina Pliskova or a qualifier in round two. Pliskova will be the likely opponent even with the dangerous qualifiers in the draw. This is where it will get interesting for Halep, who has a bit of a dilemma. The Romanian won in Shenzen last week, and with the Australian Open coming, will she want to risk not being 100% for the first grand slam of the year and go all out in Sydney? Look for a potential upset in that one. The other seed in Halep’s quarter is Ekaterina Makarova. The Russian will play her first match of the season against 20 year old Elina Svitolina. With Makarova being potentially rusty, she could get caught out by the inform Ukranian, but the number six seed will be favourite to advance. Awaiting the winner will be Carla Suarez Navarro, and 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki. Lisicki has shown in the past she can beat anyone with her powerful serve and ground strokes. The German holds the world record for the fastest womens serve in history. She hit a 131 mph serve in Stanford last year. This isn’t grass however, and the Spaniard should expect herself to advance.
The third seed is 2015 Hopman cup champion, Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole will be in her first WTA competition In Sydney, and faces a tough round one match against Alize Cornet. The Pole will expect herself to extract revenge on the player who defeated her in Perth, but an upset wouldn’t be surprising at all. Their potential round two opponents are Garbine Muguruza and Sara Errani. Muguruza is dangerous, but withdrew from Brisbane with an ankle injury, so there are big questions on her fitness. Errani will be looking to take advantage of the Spaniards problem and take out the 21 year old. If Muguruza is fit however, you would expect her to overpower the Italian. Angelique Kerber is the number five seed and will face a qualifier in round one; a match you would expect her to win. From there you would expect her to face highly touted youngster Belinda Bencic. The 17 year old is destined to be one of the world’s best players, but she faces a tough test against Angelique Kerber. This potential second round clash is no doubt one of the most anticipated matches of week. How will the youngster handle the tests that Kerber will bring to the court?
The number two seed is Czech powerhouse Petra Kvitova. Like Halep, Kvitova will receive a bye into the second round. She will face Shuai Peng, or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. You would expect the Wimbledon champion to make the quarter finals with that draw if she decides to be play hundred percent. The other seed in her quarter is Dominika Cibulkova. The Australian open drew lucky and will face a qualifier in the first round, so you would expect her to make the second round at least. She will likely face Andrea Petkovic in the second round, which will no doubt be tricky for the number seven seed. The winner of that match will really fancy themselves to make the semi-finals, with Kvitova’s commitment in question, with the Australian Open just round the corner.
In the other quarter, we have a stacked group of players with a lot of possible semi-finalists. The number four seed is former world number one, Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane will open her tournament against Barbora Zahalova-Strycova. A potential banana skin for Wozniacki, as Strycova showed good form last season. You would expect Wozniacki to squeeze past the Czech, but an upset wouldn’t be shocking at all. The winner will face Lucie Safarova or Sam Stosur, and given their head to head and current form it will likely be the Czech. Safarova is a potential title winner in Sydney, with a lot of the top seed’s commitment in doubt. Lucie is in good form, and will no doubt see this as a good chance to win another WTA title. The number eight seed, Flavia Pennetta will be another player gunning for the crown. The Italian will face a qualifier (it’s a pattern isn’t it?) in round one, and you would expect Pennetta to make it through. Flava will face either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Madison Keys. This is one of those interesting round one matches that didn’t make my three to see. It’s another one of those ‘youth vs experience’ battles that will be a theme of the WTA throughout 2015. If I would be forced to choose, I say Keys makes it through to face Pennetta, and the Italian makes the Quarter finals
Semis: Kerber d. Suarez Navarro
Safarova d. Petkovic
With a lot of the top seeds potentially playing safe with the Australian Open in mind, these 4 players will stand out from the rest of the pack and make the semifinals. In the first semifinal, Kerber will narrowly defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 3 sets. This match will be tight, as they are 2-2 in the head to head, but Kerber I believe will find a way to win. In the second semi final, I expect Lucie Safarova to continue her good form and defeat Andrea Petkovic to make the final. The Czech will be 100% focused here, with the title being a big possibility., and I think she’ll better the German this time around despite the head to head being 4-2 in favour of Petkovic.
Final: Kerber d. Safarova
Angelique Kerber will be the 2015 Sydney champion after weathering the Safarova storm. In this final, I expect the Czech to make the better start and race to an easy one set lead. The German will keep retrieving and errors will finally start leaking from Safarova’s side of the court, allowing Kerber to turn the match on it’s head and win the title in Sydney.
2015 Hopman Cup Preview Steen Kirby and Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
2015 Hopman Cup Preview
The 2015 ATP and WTA Season will officially kickoff with another edition of the Hopman Cup from Perth, Australia. Eight star studded national teams featuring an ATP and WTA player will battle it out in a split groups format to determine this years champion. Here is a preview of all the action.
ITF Team Event
January 4-January 10, 2014
Prize Money: $1,000,000
Group A: Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, United States
The second best Canadian male player, Vasek Pospisil, will form part of the Canadian tandem at the Hopman Cup. He reached a career high ranking of 25 last season, but ended up finishing the year just outside the top 50, with a 20-23 ATP level singles record. He struggled in the second half of the season, not winning consecutive matches at any tournament after making the final in Washington. That said he reached one ATP final, an ATP semifinal and three ATP quarterfinals in 2014 and appears close to capturing his first ever ATP title. Vashy also is a very accomplished doubles player as he won 3 doubles titles, partnering with Jack Sock in 2014, including the Wimbledon title. Overall, the talented doubles pairing reached five ATP doubles finals, including a Masters final in Cincinnati. Given Pospisil’s ability to be successful in both doubles and singles, along with Bouchard being a top player herself, team Canada looks to be one of the favorites to take home the Hopman Cup.
The WTA representative for Canada is their number 1 ranked player, Eugenie Bouchard. Bouchard translated her junior success to senior success in 2014. Genie had a breakthrough year where she reached the Wimbledon final and ended the year as world number 7. The 20 year old has an aggressive game, and looks to take the ball as early as she possibly can. Bouchard will be making her second straight Hopman cup appearance. In 2014 she partnered Milos Raonic, but they couldn’t make the final as Canada finished second in group A.
Adam Pavlasek, who has yet to break the worlds top 200, and at age 20 is the lowest ranked male participant in this years Hopman Cup, will team up with Lucie Safarova to represent his country. Pavlasek is most notable for formerly dating Czech tennis star Petra Kvitova and beyond a pair of futures titles, failed to do anything particularly notable in 2014. That said, unheralded players have stepped up and performed well in the Hopman Cup before, and perhaps Pavlasek can put some good matchplay together and pull off some surprises.
Partnering the youngster will be the experienced Lucie Safarova. Safarova knows how it feels to win for her country, as she was part of the Czech Republic team that won the Fed Cup last year. The 27 year old previously competed in the Hopman cup in 2008 where she partnered Tomas Berdych. Lucie had her best season to date in 2014, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals and finishing a career high, 14 in the world rankings. The leftie proved a difficult opponent for everyone on tour during the year
In one of the most interesting pairings at this year’s Hopman Cup, the combustible Fabio Fognini will be partnering with his girlfriend, the veteran Flavia Pennetta as they look to put up a good showing for the Italian team. Fognini peaked just inside the top 15 in 2014, but finished the year at number 20 as he tanked the second half of the season and failed to win consecutive matches after reaching the quarterfinals in Cincinnati. Given the Italian team is better suited for a clay court surface, they are underdogs in this group, and are likely to be most interesting for the fireworks they might produce.
Flavia Pennetta will partner The Fog in this year’s competition. The 32 year old will be making her third Hopman cup appearance, and will be partnering Fognini for the first time on the court. Pennetta has tons of experience with this being her 15th year as a pro, and 2014 was one of her best on tour. The Italian finished 13th in the world and made the Quarter Finals in two majors. Flavia has also showed doubles prowess by reaching the US Open final with Hingis. She will no doubt be a threat in this tournament.
John Isner didn’t have his best season in 2014, but he still earned a couple of titles and finished inside the top 20 with a very positive 39-20 singles record. Isner had a pretty balanced year overall and of course he will be playing on his favorite surface, with the best WTA player in the game, so team USA will have a chance to add to their Hopman Cup resume this year. Isner doesn’t play doubles often, but he’s known to be at least component.
You don’t get any better than Serena Williams in women’s tennis. The world number one has dominated the tour for years, and cemented that by winning her 18th major at the US Open. Serena has previously competed in the Hopman cup in 2003 and 2008. She won the title both times. If the past is anything to go by, the USA might just be favourites to win the tournament. With Williams you have the biggest serve on the WTA tour, and partnered with Isner you have a team that will be extremely difficult to break.
Group B: Australia, France, Great Britain, Poland
Formerly a top 70 player, Aussie Matt Ebden will be looking to bounce back in 2015, after a poor 2014 season that saw him finish outside the top 200 for the first time in over 3 seasons. The 27 year old Aussie baseliner went just 5-21 at the ATP level last season and didn’t make it past the second round of any tournament he played last year. The Aussies will have plenty of fan support, but have one of the weaker teams in this years tournament and are unlikely to win a lot of matches. There one strength is the fact both players have doubles ability, Ebden has won four ATP doubles titles in his career, including one last season, and Dellacqua has also had success with that side of the game.
Left hander Casey Dellacqua is heading into the tournament off the back of a good 2014 season which saw the 29 year old crack the world’s top 30. The Australian has also shown her talents in doubles, where she has reached the final of all four Grand Slam tournaments during her career. Dellacqua went one further in the mixed doubles in 2011, where she won the French Open title. The Perth native will be returning home to compete in her second Hopman cup. She only won one of her matches in the 2009 edition of the annual event.
Benoit Paire, a talented underachiever at this point in his career, who struggled with knee problems in 2014, after formerly being ranked as high as 24 in the world in 2013, will be looking to rise back to that level in 2015. Paire, who is now 25, posted a pair of ATP quarterfinals last season and as usual provided a lot of excitement and passionate antics with his tennis. He has one career doubles title, but I would be surprised if team France repeated as Hopman Cup champions with this pairing of Paire and Cornet.
The defending champion is back to defend her title. Alize Cornet partnered Jo Wilfried Tsonga as the French team proved too much for the competition last year. That win was just the start for Alize, as the French woman went on to have one of her best seasons to date. Cornet won her 4th WTA title in Katowice and defeated top 10 players such as Serena Williams and Simona Halep during the year. The 24 year old will look to kick off her 2015 season in the same vein as last year, and defend the Hopman Cup title.
Andy Murray, who went through a transition year in 2014, as he was rehabbing from back surgery, and replaced Ivan Lendl with Amelie Mauresmo as his coach, will be looking to re-enter the top 5 in 2015. Murray went through some other changes in his coaching team in the offseason, but he finished 2014 on a strong note, winning all three of his ATP titles in 2014 after the US Open to help his bid to eventually qualify for the World Tour Finals. Murray faces some formidable talent ranked in front of him, and players like Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic are pressing on his heels from behind in the rankings, but he has a chance to get 2015 off to a great start and win the Hopman Cup for team GB. He’s the strongest singles player in the field, and has always done well for team GB in Davis Cup doubles. Murray comes off winning the Abu Dhabi exhibition, which will certainly be a boost for his mojo.
Fellow British number one Heather Watson will partner Andy Murray in this year’s tournament. Watson recently suffered from mononucleosis, which saw the Brit fall outside the top 150. But the 22 year old rallied back to finish the year inside the top 50. Watson will bring a good blend of attack and defence to her maiden Hopman Cup tournament. Partnered with Andy Murray, Team GB will be hard work for anyone.
Jerzy Janowicz still has room to improve his tennis for sure but he slumped in 2014, and finished the year just 24-26 at the ATP level. He reached one ATP final, one ATP semifinal and a pair of ATP quarterfinals, in what was a disappointing season for the Polish male number one. Like many other participants, Janowicz is a capable doubles player, and with Radwanska being one of the best players on the WTA side of the field, team Poland will be one of the favorites.
Aga Radwanska is returning to Perth for her second Hopman cup appearance. She made the final in her debut last year and will look to go one better with her new partner, Jerzy Janowicz. The 25 year old is one of the craftiest players on the WTA tour, and that craft has seen her finish inside the top 10 yet again. The former Wimbledon finalist will be looking to express any improvements she has made under new coach Martina Navratilova.
Canada d. Czech Republic
USA d. Italy
Italy d. Czech Republic
USA d. Canada
Canada d. Italy
USA d. Czech Republic
Poland d. Australia
Great Britain d. France
Poland d. Great Britain
France d. Australia
Poland d. France
Great Britain d. Australia
The USA should finish 3-0 in Group A, with their strongest test coming from team Canada in their second match. Canada likewise is likely to do well against Italy and the Czechs, as the USA and Canada have the strongest combined teams for a hard court surface.
In Group B, Radwanska should be enough to give Poland an edge over team GB, and like the USA, Poland should finish 3-0. Team GB with Murray is also formidable, while the Aussies will do well to win a match.
USA d. Poland
With Serena Williams in the ranks, Team USA will be too strong for the competition. Poland will once again reach the final, but fall short for the 2nd straight year as Isner and Janowicz effectively cancel each other out with their similar big serving styles, and Williams should defeat Radwanska.
Nadal Finds Way to Title in Doha; France wins Hopman Cup
Rafael Nadal honestly did not look great in Doha, but he captured the title there for the first time in his career, 6-1 6-7 6-2 over Gael Monfils.
Nadal got out to a very fast start in the final, but Monfils would make a second set charge, eventually capturing it in a tiebreak and forcing a third. But in that third, Nadal would again raise his level and finish the match with ease.
Nadal beat Lukas Rosol in straights, Tobias Kamke in 3 sets, Ernests Gulbis in straights and Peter Gojowczyk in 3 sets to reach the final. He played very well for periods in all of those matches and rather poorly in other periods, all in all still trying to find his form and play consistently. Gojowczyk, a qualifier, most notably scored a win against his countryman Philipp Kohlschreiber en route to the semis in a tournament that was dominated by upsets. Seeded players Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco all fell before the quarterfinals.
Monfils played some tremendous and entertaining tennis this week, harking back to some of his top 15 level play years ago, as he scored wins over Santiago Giraldo, a hobbled Richard Gasquet, Daniel Brands and an exhausted Florian Mayer. Mayer was a surprise semifinalist as well. His biggest win came in a 3 set comeback against Andy Murray, who played the third set with signs of injury issues.
Tomas Berdych/Jan Hajek took the doubles title over Alex Peya/Bruno Soares.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alize Cornet beat a surprise Polish team in the Hopman Cup final, as the French team went 3-0 in round robin play, 7-2 in overall matches, and then won the final 2-1. Tsonga beat Grzegorz Panfil in men’s singles, Agnieszka Radwanska beat Cornet in women’s singles, and the French team won the mixed doubles.
Notable other showings include the partial withdrawal of the USA team of John Isner/Sloane Stephens with injuries, along with team Italy doing the same (Andreas Seppi/Flavia Pennetta). Panfil upset Milos Raonic in singles. A massive result. Radek Stepanek also upset Raonic in men’s singles.
After Watching Bartoli Win Wimbledon, French #2 Alize Cornet is Winning in Washington Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
Alize Cornet is the #2 French women’s singles player. She reflected on Marion Bartoli’s 2013 Wimbledon title after winning an important match herself in Washington, DC yesterday. She outlasted Sorana Cirstea of Romania in three sets to advance to the Citi Open semifinals. Tonight at 9:15 p.m., Cornet faces Andrea Petkovic for a spot in the tournament final.
She was thrilled with Bartoli’s big win and compatriot Kiki Mladenovic winning the mixed doubles title with Daniel Nestor. But now it’s her turn.
This is Cornet’s first visit to the Nation’s Capital, and she’s a big fan of Washington now. She thought the White House was impressive. Washington tennis fans are impressed with her, since she has gone on a run this week on the courts of Rock Creek Park that have included victories over Yanina Wickmayer, Heather Watson and Sorana Cirstea.
Cornet is a native of Nice, France and a life-long resident. She recently took a few weeks off to rest up before the summer hard courts season. Where does a resident of a sun-soaked resort town go on holiday? Usually down the street. In Cornet’s case, she went to visit her boyfriend near the Swiss border. After reaching a career high of #11 in 2009, Cornet has slowly worked her way back to #31 and is poised to return to the top 25 next week.These and other fun facts in the more in-depth interview below the fold.