WTA @Istanbul_Cup @NuernbergerCup Previews, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The WTA tour is still in post-Wimbledon mode with another pair of International events being on the agenda this week. With the top ten players in the world looking to rest for the upcoming US hard court season, these tournaments give a chance to lower ranked players to claim a tour title.
The BNP Paribas Istanbul cup and the Nurnberger Gasteinladies events will provide WTA fans with plenty of action over the coming week.
The BNP Paribas Istanbul cup
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Prize Money: $226,750
Date: July 20th– July 26th 2015
The eight seeded players:
1. Venus Williams (15)
2. Elina Svitolina (17)
3. Jelena Jankovic (25)
4. Alize Cornet (28)
5. Camila Giorgi (31)
6. Daria Gavrilova (39)
7. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (40)
8. Tsvetana Pironkova (42)
First round matches to watch:
(5) Camila Giorgi vs Dominika Cibulkova:
Cibulkova will continue her climb back up the rankings after recently recovering from an Achilles injury. The former Australian Open finalist will begin her Istanbul campaign against big hitting Italian Giorgi who is back in action after a successful grass court season.
With her ranking now outside the top 50, Cibulkova made her return to action during grass court season after a three month layoff. The Slovakian defeated Lucie Safarova in Eastbourne before losing to Pironkova in three sets. Cibulkova Wimbledon campaign was short lived however. The 26 year old lost in the opening round to Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets.
Grass season is where Giorgi finds her best form as the 24 year old’s powerful game becomes even tougher to deal with. The Italian won her first WTA title in Den Bosch and made the third round of Wimbledon making this her most successful season to date. Currently ranked at 51, Giorgi is the fifth seed at this event and one of the favourites to take home the title.
Giorgi defeated Cibulkova in their only previous meeting which came in Rome last year. It is hard to gage Cibulkova’s form due to the injury so it is unknown how well she might play out there. The surface suits the Slovakian more, but Giorgi on a good day is hugely dangerous. It is one of those toss-up matches, but due to form the Italian is the favourite.
(2) Elina Svitolina vs Magdalena Rybarikova:
Young-gun Svitolina will be hoping to continue her ascension up the rankings this week, but first she must overcome the dangerous Rybarikova in the opening round.
The Ukrainian has been one of the staples of consistency this season, and has achieved a ranking of 17. Now that grass season is over Svitolina can settle on to a court that is more suited to her game and continue her journey towards the top 10.
Grass is usually where Rybarikova shines, but the Slovakian will be disappointed that she lost to Olga Govortsova in a section that opened nice for a deep Wimbledon run. Outside of some good wins on the grass, Rybarikova has struggled to put together victories this season but she still remains inside the world’s top 50.
Svitolina won their only meeting 6-0, 6-2 in Brisbane at that start of the season. The Ukrainian may have struggled on grass against Rybarikova but on a hard court the 20 year old holds an advantage. The Slovakian is still a dangerous player however, and could spring an upset if playing well.
Top seed Venus Williams has been dealt with a rather kind draw as she bids for her 47th career title. At the tender age of 25, one wonders how long the seven time grand slam champion will continue her playing career, but she is here in Istanbul looking to add to her already large trophy collection. A qualifier will await her in round one, with Mona Barthel being a potentially tricky customer in the second round. It is a draw that Venus should be able to navigate with Gavrilova her projected quarter final opponent. The young Russian could be tested by Daniela Hantuchova in her second round match, but if she is to make the quarter finals it will be an interesting clash with Williams.
Fourth seed Alize Cornet received a wildcard in to the tournament as the French number one starts her quest to get back inside the world’s top 20. However, it is a difficult section of the draw for Cornet who plays Yania Wickmayer in round one, potentially Kirsten Flipkens in round two and is then projected to face Giorgi in the quarter finals. Do not be too surprised to see the Frenchwoman fail to live up to her seeding.
Jelena Jankovic sent shockwaves through SW19 when she knocked defending champion Petra Kvitova out of Wimbledon. The Serb was defeated by Agnieszka Radwanska in the following round, but the Pole’s sister Ula will now take her shot at defeating the former world number one. The lesser known Radwanska is Jankovic’s opening round match, with a potentially tricky clash against Yaroslava Shvedova or Bojana Jovanovski in store for round two. Pironkova is the eighth seed and projected quarter final opponent, though Kurumi Nara and Vitalia Diatchenko might have something to say about that.
The final quarter features second seed Svitolina who is one of the title favourites. The 20 year old will face Rybarikova in the first round, with the winner facing either a qualifier or wildcard Ipek Soylu. Seventh seed Pavlyuchenkova faces Roberta Vinci in an interesting round one clash even though the Italian is past her best at this point. The winner will fancy themselves for the quarter finals with a qualifier or last direct entrant Elizaveta Kulichkova as the second round adversary.
Venus def. Gavrilova
Giorgi def. Cornet
Jankovic def. Nara
Svitolina def. Pavlyuchenkova
Venus def. Giorgi
Svitolina def. Jankovic
Svitolina def. Venus
WTA Bad Gastein
The Nurnberger Gasteinladies:
Location: Bad Gastein, Austria
Prize Money: $226,750
Date: July 20th– July 26th 2015
The eight seeded players (Ranking)
1. Sara Errani (20)
2. Sam Stosur (23)
3. Karin Knapp (43)
4. Carina Witthoeft (50)
5. Lucie Hradecka (55)
6. Julia Goerges (57)
7. Anna Schmiedlova (60)
8. Katerina Siniakova (65)
First round matches to watch:
Teliana Pereira vs Annika Beck:
This match between two unseeded players has potential to be a three set war as clay specialist Pereira faces Germany’s Beck in a battle of two dark horses.
Pereira won her first ever title in Bogota earlier in the year, putting on an impressive display to beat Shvedova in the final. The Brazilian is now starting to climb the rankings on the back of that run and now finds herself inside the top 100.
Beck has been a steady eddy but has failed to really make a breakthrough. Due to her inability to really push the higher ranked players, her ranking has slipped to 71 from 43 over the past year. The German is still young and has one WTA title to her name. Maybe she can start climbing again with a good run this week.
This should be quite an even contest, though form and surface favours the Brazilian. Pereira has played good tennis on the clay this year but Beck always provides a stern challenge. Potential for a deep run is there for the winner.
Johanna Larsson vs Stefanie Voegele:
Fresh off her first title in her home country of Sweden, Larsson will be in fine spirits when she faces talented Swiss Voegele in the opening round of Bad Gastein.
Many may count Larsson lucky that Serena Williams pulled out of Bastad last week, but the Swede took full advantage to win her first title, defeating Mona Barthel in the final. She will be now full of confidence and will be hoping to win her second straight title in Bad Gastein this upcoming week.
Voegele has made a reputation as a fairly talented player who has not managed to make any major breakthrough. The Swiss is currently ranked 107th in the world, but she is capable of playing better than her ranking suggests.
This match is interesting because we will see how Larsson responds after her title win last week. Can she continue that good form, or will Voegele spring a surprise?
Top seed Errani will arrive in Austria as the favourite to take home the title this week. The Italian is a former French Open finalist and is known for her clay court expertise. Her section of the draw is kind as it is littered with qualifiers and lucky losers. Her first major test will likely come in the quarter finals with Julia Goerges, Jana Cepelova, and Aleksandra Krunic possible opponents.
Karin Knapp will see this as a potential third title with the Italian being the third seed. She faces a tough draw with no qualifiers or lucky losers in her section and a home crowd favourite as a first round opponent. Then it could be Bastad champion Larsson in the second round. It is not an easy draw to say the least. Lucie Hradecka, Lara Arruabarrena, Timea Babos and Polona Hercog round this section off.
Carina Witthoeft is the fourth seed, and the 20 year old German will quite like her chances of a first WTA title. She has been drawn in a section with Anna Schmiedlova however, who is coming off a title win in Bucharest- her second of the year. Teliana Pereira or Annika Beck could spoil the party by eliminating the German in round two, whilst Andreea Mitu could shock Schmiedlova.
The final quarter features former US Open champion Sam Stosur who is looking to rekindle that 2011 form. It is looking like a struggle for the Aussie, and her second round against Klara Koukalova or Ana-Lena Friedsam. Siniakova vs Krunic will make for a good first round match, and the winner could make the semi-finals with Stosur’s current bad form.
Errani def. Goerges
Knapp def. Arruabarrena
Schmiedlova def. Pereira
Krunic def. Friedsam
Errani def. Knapp
Schmiedlova def. Krunic
Errani def. Schmiedlova