Hobart Final: (7) Alize Cornet vs Eugenie Bouchard
There is one last match before Monday’s first Grand Slam of the year at the Australian Open, a blockbuster final at the Hobart International where Alize Cornet will come up against Eugenie Bouchard. Both ladies will be desperate to win the title on Saturday to complete a perfect week’s preparation for the Australian Open. Eugenie Bouchard will be aiming for just her second career title and her first on a hard court whilst Alize Cornet will be aiming to capture her fifth career title and her first since Katowice back in early 2014.
After a really disappointing season in 2015, it is great to see Alize Cornet playing good tennis again. Alize made a positive start to the season in Brisbane where she defeated Kristina Mladenovic before succumbing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a close match. Alize has taken advantage of a relatively favourable draw in Hobart, recording victories over Denisa Allertova and Veronica Cepede Royg before receiving a walkover into the semi-final’s courtesy of Mona Barthel withdrawing due to an injury. Alize’s most impressive performance came on Friday where she thumped Johanna Larsson 6-1 6-1 to advance to the final. It was Alize’s most consistent performance of the week, a good sign heading into the final.
Eugenie Bouchard continues to improve and become closer and closer to her 2014 season form. The Canadian is the only player to reach 2 quarter-finals in the first 2 weeks of the season and will be very confident she can claim her second career title on Saturday. The Canadian’s draw has been quite tough this week, defeating several quality opponents on route to the final. Bouchard started the week by recording straight set victories over Mattek-Sands, Van Uytvanck and Camila Giorgi before outlasting Dominika Cibulkova to claim an epic 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory. Bouchard’s semi-final performance was also her best of the week, fighting extremely hard to edge past a determined Cibulkova in a tight decider.
Eugenie Bouchard holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Alize Cornet. The Canadian has won the two most recent clashes between the pair, including a memorable 7-6 7-5 victory at Wimbledon in 2014 and a 6-3 7-5 victory a couple of weeks later. Both matches were quite close, especially the Wimbledon match and show that there is very little to separate these two.
This promises to be a really tough battle between two fierce competitors, these two are quite evenly matched heading into this match. Bouchard certainly has more firepower but Alize has more variety and greater defensive skills, whilst both can struggle behind their serves. In the difficult Hobart conditions, I’m going to give the slight edge to Cornet. There are more margins to Alize’s game and she is better able to adapt and fight in different circumstances. Alize should also be much fresher heading into this clash having played one less match. I think this should be a really entertaining and close match.
Prediction: Alize Cornet to defeat Eugenie Bouchard in 3 sets
Hobart QF: (Q) Kiki Bertens vs (3) Dominika Cibulkova
Dominika Cibulkova looms as the most dangerous unseeded player heading into next week’s Australian Open. The Slovakian continues to gain momentum heading into her most successful Grand Slam. Dominika has a wonderful chance to reach the semi-finals at the Hobart International on Thursday when she comes up against Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens in the first quarter-final of the day.
Kiki Bertens is having a great week in Hobart, coming through a relatively tough qualifying draw to make a rare quarter-final appearance. Bertens recorded victories over Smitkova, Sakkari and Cepede Royg to advance to the main draw where she has picked up victories over Madison Brengle and Annika Beck. Kiki’s 6-3 6-1 second round victory over Annika Beck in the second round was particularly impressive. Bertens will face her biggest test of the week when she comes up against the 2014 Australian Open runner-up on Thursday afternoon.
Dominika Cibulkova has played some good tennis in Hobart this week. The Slovakian started the week with a very hard-fought 7-6 7-5 victory over Johanna Konta. Domi came from 1-6 down in the first set tiebreaker, winning 7 straight points to steal the opening set. Dominika also came from behind in the second set, overall it was a typically gutsy victory. The Slovakian’s second round victory was far more straightforward, 6-1 6-0 demolition of Kimberly Birrell in just 49 minutes.
Surprisingly, It was Kiki Bertens who won the only previous meetings between the pair, a 7-5 6-4 victory at the Paris indoors in 2013. I suspect we will see a far different results here, Dominika looks very motivated this week and should match-up well here. Bertens has a big game but lacks variety and is the type of opponent that Dominika usually plays very well against.
Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Kiki Bertens in 2 sets
Hobart QF: Eugenie Bouchard vs (2) Camila Giorgi
A fascinating quarter-final match-up at the Hobart International features Eugenie Bouchard and Camila Giorgi. Eugenie and Camila are both widely regarded as two ladies with great potential but both had relatively disappointing seasons in 2015 and will be looking to make a significant jump in the rankings in 2016. This looms as an important match for both ladies, a victory in a match like this would give either lady a boost of confidence heading into the Australian Open next week.
Eugenie Bouchard has made a reasonable start to the season. The Canadian is into back-to-back quarter-finals to start the year after reaching the final eight in Shenzhen last week. Bouchard’s confidence seems to be growing with each victory. The Canadian started the week in Hobart with a very impressive 6-2 6-1 victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands, her first victory over the American in three attempts. Bouchard was striking the ball exceptionally well from the baseline in that match. Bouchard’s second round victory wasn't as pretty, recording a hard-fought 6-4 7-5 victory over Alison Van Uytvanck in difficult, windy conditions. A solid victory, showing Genie is determined this week.
Camila Giorgi also seems to be finding some reasonable from in Hobart this week. Giorgi’s first round victory was a typically erratic performance by the Italian, a 6-4 1-6 6-1 victory over Zarina Diyas. Giorgi was much more consistent in her second round match where she recorded a 6-2 6-3 victory over Nao Hibino. Giorgi has struggled with the windy conditions in Hobart in the past, especially with her serve, but her service numbers have been reasonable this week and she has kept her double fault tally relatively low.
Eugenie Bouchard won the only previous encounter between the pair, a comfortable 6-3 6-0 on the clay in Strasbourg back in 2014. It is tough to split the pair heading into their first match on a hard court. I have to give the slight edge to Bouchard, the Canadian has greater margins and is a little more consistent which is particularly helpful in the windy Hobart conditions. Whoever serves better will have a big advantage in this match-up, I suspect that will be Bouchard.
Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Camila Giorgi in 3 sets
Hobart R1: (3) Dominika Cibulkova vs Johanna Konta
Dominika Cibulkova and Johanna Konta will go head-to-head for the very first time on Monday afternoon where they do battle in the first round of the Hobart International. Dominika and Johanna both suffered disappointing early round exits last week and will therefore be desperate to avoid a first round exit in Hobart.
Dominika Cibulkova looms as the most dangerous unseeded floater at the Australian Open next week. It is important for Dominika to be very well prepared for Melbourne given she may face a top player in the first round, she is unlikely to have the luxury of playing herself into form against lower ranked opponents. This is why Hobart is particularly important for Dominika.
The Slovakian captured a typically gutsy three set first round victory over Yanina Wickmayer at the Brisbane International last week, however her tournament would end in the second round where she was thumped to Roberta Vinci 1-6 1-6. One weakness that really stood out in Dominika’s game last week was her serve, the Slovakian hit far too many double faults which put herself under a lot of pressure. Her groundstrokes generally looked good though, even in her loss to Roberta.
After such a positive ending to season 2015, Johanna Konta made a surprisingly poor start to her 2016 campaign last week in Shenzhen. The brit suffered a 3-6 6-3 3-6 loss to Qiang Wang in the first round. Konta will be very keen to pick up a confidence boosting victory in Hobart before heading to Melbourne.
I believe this will be a really good match-up for Dominika. The Slovakian will have Johanna covered from the baseline, the Brit will need to serve extremely well to remain competitive. Dominika has been in Hobart for a good amount of time and seems ready for a deep run at the event.
Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets
Hobart R1: Eugenie Bouchard vs Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Perhaps the most exciting first round match-up at the Hobart International sees one of the tournaments star attractions Eugenie Bouchard come up against Bethanie Mattek Sands. Eugenie is still trying to find her range after spending the final months of 2015 on the sidelines. It will be important for the Canadian to play another couple of matches before heading to Melbourne, however this is unlikely to be an easy match for Eugenie given she has lost to the American in their two previous meetings.
Eugenie Bouchard made a reasonable start to the season last week in Shenzhen. The Canadian rising-star picked up victories over Donna Vekic and Nicole Gibbs on route to the quarter-final stage where she lost to Timea Babos in straight sets. Bouchard still has a lot to work on and is certainly not anywhere near her best, her best level of tennis will come with time, strong results in Hobart could be key for Bouchard before heading to Melbourne.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands is always a dangerous opponent, however her inconsistency and constant injury problems have meant her ranking is always bellow where it could be. The American has been able to remain relatively injury-free over the last couple of years and is therefore well positioned to start playing some of her best tennis. However Bethanie did make a poor start to her 2016 season in Auckland last week, suffering 6-3 4-6 3-6 loss to Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands has a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Eugenie. Both matches were on a hard court and both were in early 2014, first at the Sydney International and then again in Doha. Both were in straight sets.
Bouchard will see this match as a good opportunity to avenge her previous losses to Mattek-Sands. I believe Eugenie will get the job done here but it will not be easy because Bethanie is a tricky customer and clearly has a winning formula to beat the Canadian. Expect a determined Bouchard to come through this one.
Prediction: Genie Bouchard to defeat Bethanie Mattek-Sands in 3 sets