2015 @BOTWClassic Stanford Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The US hard court season officially begins with a Premier event in Stanford, often a popular destination for the best players in the world.
The event was originally launched in San Francisco in 1971, making it the longest running women’s only event on the calendar. Eight years later it moved to Oakland before finding its current home the Taube Family Tennis Center in 1997.
Martina Navratilova holds the tournament record with five titles. Other winners include four time champion Kim Clijsters, and three-time champions Lindsay Davenport, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King and Serena Williams, who won the event last year.
Bank Of The West Classic
Location: Stanford, USA
Prize Money: $665,900
Date: August 3rd-9th 2015
Top four seeds who receive a first round BYE (Ranking)
1. (W/C) Caroline Wozniacki (5)
2. (W/C) Agnieszka Radwanska (7)
3. Carla Suarez Navarro (10)
4. Karolina Pliskova (12)
World number one Serena Williams, and Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza were forced to withdraw from the tournament. The last seed is Elina Svitolina, making this a strong field but not in comparison to recent years.
First round matches to watch:
(5) Angelique Kerber vs Daria Gavrilova
Youngster Daria Gavrilova could provide a stern test for fifth seed and potential champion Angelique Kerber in this intriguing round one clash.
The German is making her return to action after a disappointing loss to Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon. Kerber would have felt she had a huge chance of making the final herself in that section of the draw. Now with that behind her, the fifth seed will turn her attention to the US hard court swing, starting with Stanford.
Gavrilova looked to be showing signs of promise when she was gradually climbing up the rankings, but recently she has been in a slump, losing her last three matches. After a first round loss in Istanbul, can the Russian bounce back in a big way and upset Kerber in Stanford?
The world number thirteen defeated Gavrilova twice at the beginning of the season with victories in Brisbane and Sydney. Their last meeting was a close 6-7,7-6,6-3 win for the German. The quickness of the courts should suit Kerber’s counter punching game, especially with her flat shots. Gavrilova could provide an interesting test, but it is likely to be the fifth seed advancing.
(6) Andrea Petkovic vs Carina Witthoeft
Speaking of youngsters, Carina Witthoeft will look to spring an upset by defeating compatriot and sixth seed Andrea Petkovic.
The 20 year old will be looking to put a bad few months on the main tour behind her after not registering a win since the French Open. The German is just outside the top 50, so a win here could see Witthoeft re-join that club.
Petkovic is making her return to tour action after losing in the third round of Wimbledon to Zarina Diyas. The German had a good grass court season by her standards on a surface she has previously struggled on. Hard courts suit her game more, so the world number 16 will look to use this stretch of the season to potentially re-join the top 10.
Petkovic will be the favourite, but with this being the start of a new part of the season there is potential for an upset.
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki will receive a first round bye, but could face Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in round two if she can get by Varvara Lepchenko. The Croatian’s power game could be effective on this surface, and if Wozniacki is not careful she could be heading for an early exit. Mona Barthel will likely await the winner of Petkovic vs Witthoeft which would set up another all German clash for a quarter final place. Petkovic will once against be the favourite, but Barthel is capable of playing great tennis. The top seed does not have it easy in her quarter with potential for an upset.
Karolina Pliskova will look to put a disappointing Wimbledon behind her by making a title run at Stanford. The surface should suit the big serving Czech, who will receive a first round BYE courtesy of her seeding. The fourth seed could face Sabine Lisicki in the second round in what will be billed as a battle of the servers. The German is also coming off the back of a poor Wimbledon (for a change), but overall she has had a fairly consistent season. It will likely come down to who serves the better of the two, making this an even contest on paper. Speaking of big serves, seventh seed Madison Keys also finds herself in this tough quarter. The American will face Aleksandra Krunic in round one, then the winner of Ajla Tomljanovic vs Vitalia Diatchenko in round two. Three decent and potentially tricky opponents, but players you will expect Keys to beat. A quarter final against Pliskova or Lisicki will provide us with another big serving contest.
Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska took a wildcard in to the tournament and looks to build off a strong Wimbledon performance that saw the Pole re-enter the top 10. Her draw to the quarter finals looks kid with Catherine Bellis or a qualifier awaiting the world number seven in round two. From there it could be tricky, with Kerber possibly awaiting her in the quarter finals. The German could possibly go through a duo of youngsters in Gavrilova and Ana Konjuh before reaching the last eight. A clash with Radwanska will be interesting given their respective defensive game styles. The fast courts suit both, but I feel it benefits Kerber slightly more.
Third seed Carla Suarez Navarro lost in the first round of Wimbledon, so is also looking to recover from a disappointing result at SW19. There are some potentially dangerous players in her section of the draw, with Alison Riske or Tatjana Maria being the Spaniard’s second round opponent. Elina Svitolina is the projected quarter final opponent, but she can be troubled by Caroline Garcia in round two. It will be a battle of two of the tour’s rising players, but form is on the side of the Ukrainian. With Suarez’s form unknown, the 20 year old will fancy her chances of a deep run here.
Wozniacki def. Petkovic
Keys def. Pliskova
Svitolina def. Suarez Navarro
Kerber def. Radwanska
Wozniacki def. Keys
Kerber def. Svitolina
Kerber def. Wozniacki
These are the events Kerber seems to win often, and with the surface likely suiting the German’s game, I predict that she will prevail in Stanford.