(2) Petra Kvitova vs Karolina Pliskova
The final of the 2015 Apia Sydney International will be an all Czech affair with Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova set to do battle on Friday evening.
Karolina Pliskova advanced to her first premier level final with an extremely impressive 6-3 6-2 victory over Angelique Kerber in just 55 minutes. Pliskova smacked Kerber off the court, the German simply had no answer to Karolina’s booming serve and powerful groundstrokes.
Karolina served amazingly well in her semi-final victory, as she has all week. The Czech won every single one of her service games (she didn’t face any break points) and stunningly lost just one point on her first serve. Pliskova also returned extremely well, taking her chances and breaking the Kerber serve multiple times.
It’s been an absolutely wonderful start to the season for Pliskova, she is certainly one of the form players heading into Melbourne and a threat to the major contenders.
Kvitova avenged her semi-final loss to Tsvetana Pironkova at last years Sydney international with a reasonably comfortable 7-5 6-2 victory. Petra didn’t really get going until midway through the opening set, when she found her range she was too hot for Pironkova to handle. Kvitova has also made a solid start to the season, another title would be the cherry on top and ensure she heads to Melbourne full of confidence.
Petra emerged victorious in the only previous meeting between the two, a three set victory in Wuhan late last year.
Karolina has played outstanding tennis this week, there is no reason why she can’t cause an upset in this final. If Karolina serves as well as she has been and keeps her cool under pressure she will be presented with opportunities. However I’m going to stick to the prediction in my initial tournament preview, Petra’s experience in big occasions will be a vital factor.
Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Karolina Pliskova in three sets
(2) Petra Kvitova vs (wc) Jarmila Gajdosova
This weeks surprise package at the Apia International Sydney, Jarmila Gajdosova will take on second seed Peter Kvitova on Ken Rosewall Arena in the fourth and final quarter-final.
Petra Kvitova reached the final eight with a relatively straightforward 6-1 7-5 victory over Peng Shuai. Petra raced through the first set with ease but seemed to lose concentration and intensity at stages during the second set, finding herself down an early break.
Nevertheless Petra was able to claw back, obtaining a critical break in the eleventh game before comfortably serving out the match.
Jarmila Gajdosova has made the most of her wildcard this week in Sydney. The Aussie has already produced two impressive upsets over top 15 opponents. In the opening round Gajdosova triumphed over Andrea Petkovic 6-1 7-6. Whilst in the second round Jarmila came from a set down to defeat Domi 1-6 6-3 6-4.
A lengthy rain delay after the opening set seemed to play into Gajdosova’s hands, she was able to rebound strongly, out hitting Domi and condemning last year’s Australian Open finalist to another disappointing loss.
This will be the first career meeting between Jarka and Petra. Whilst Jarka may have been able to dictate against Andrea and Domi, she certainly won’t be dictating play on Wednesday night. I suspect Petra will win this relatively comfortably.
Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Jarmila Gajdosova in straight sets
(5) Angelique Kerber vs Garbine Muguruza
Wednesday’s most intriguing quarter-final at the Apia International Sydney sees fifth seed Angelique Kerber take on Garbine Muguruza.
Several rain delays meant that Angelique Kerber’s second round match against Daria Gavrilova would not start until the early hours of Wednesday morning. Angie lost the first set in a tiebreaker but rallied to take the match in three sets, with the match concluding at 3:10 am local time. An extremely an impressive fightback, it would have been very easy for Angie to roll over and concede defeat given the circumstances.
However, It will be an extremely tough ask for Angie to come out and perform at a high level on Wednesday evening, she will surely be some way off her best.
Garbine Muguruza was also forced to come from a set down in her second round match. The Spaniard was outplayed by Agnieszka Radwanska in the opening set, failing to make any inroads into the Poles service games. In the second set Garbine was able to turn things around, cutting down her unforced errors and playing smarter tennis. Garbine played a wonderful tiebreaker to force the match into a decider.
Garbine totally dictated play in the final set, there was little a tired Agnieszka Radwanska could do to stop the Spaniard. Muguruza racing away to impressive 3-6 7-6 6-2 victory.
These two have met on two previous occasions with Angie emerging victorious on both occasions. Their most recent meeting was at Stanford last year, Angie thumped Garbine 6-2 6-1. I strongly suspect we will see a very different scoreline this time around.
Much will depend on how well Angie recovers from her early morning victory over Daria Gavrilova. Furthermore Angie did play another three set match in her opening round match where her health came into question as her blood pressure was checked during a medical time out.
Garbine is not the type of opponent Angie wants to be playing when she’s feeling fatigued. It would take an outstanding effort for Angie to win this match, no doubt she is capable of producing that outstanding performance however the odds are not in her favour.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Angelique Kerber in straight sets
Karolina Pliskova vs Carla Suarez Navarro
Wednesday’s first quarter-final at the Apia International Sydney sees Karolina Pliskova take on Carla Suarez Navarro. This is a massive opportunity for both ladies to reach the Semi-Finals and perhaps beyond at a premier event.
After defeating qualifier Polona Hercog in the opening round, Karolina was scheduled to face top seed Simona Halep in the second. Unfortunately Simona was forced to withdraw due to illness. Nicole Gibbs stepped in as a lucky loser. Pliskova breezed past Nicole Gibbs, a comprehensive 6-0 6-0 victory in just 38 minutes.
Karolina has made a promising start to the season, highlighted by her marathon three hour first round victory over Vika in Brisbane. However she was unable to back up that victory in the next round, suffering a surprise loss to Alla Kudryavtseva. She won’t want to let another opportunity slip here.
Carla Suarez Navarro has also made a positive start to her 2015 campaign. Carla has now reached back to back Quarter-Finals, after reaching the final 8 in Brisbane where she was humbled by a red-hot Maria Sharapova.
All four of the Spaniards victories this season have been three setters, on three occasions Carla has been forced to come from a set down. On route to the Quarter-finals Carla has had two tough victories over quality opponents, defeating Lisicki in a third set tiebreaker before coming from a set down to edge past sixth seed Ekaterina Makarova.
Carla Suarez Navarro was victorious in the only previous encounter between these two. A 6-1 3-6 6-3 victory at Rogers Cup last season.
Pliskova is constantly improving, her next step is to consistently beat opponents like Carla who has a similar ranking. I think Pliskova will get the job done in a tight three setter.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets
Sam Stosur vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova
Sam Stosur will be looking to build on her impressive victory over Lucie Safarova when she takes on Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the second round at the Sydney International on Tuesday.
Sam Stosur rebounded from her extremely disappointing first round loss to Varvara Lepchenko in Brisbane with a gutsy three set win over Lucie Safarova. Stosur received a lot of criticism this week after losing to Lepchenko despite leading 5-1 40-30 during the deciding set. Stosur responded with a passionate performance to beat Safarova 7-6 5-7 6-3 in difficult conditions.
Stosur served very well throughout the match, more importantly she served well under pressure. Stosur found herself down 0-40 in the fifth game of the third set, but managed to win five straight points to conjure up a critical service hold. Sam confidently served out the match, a good sign after her capitulation against Lepchenko.
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova had a solid run to the Semi-Finals in Auckland, eventually succumbing to Caroline Wozniacki in three sets. The two met once again in the opening round in Sydney, Wozniacki was forced to retire due to a wrist injury, handing Strycova a second round showdown with Sam Stosur.
Surprisingly, this will be the first career meeting between the two. This promises to be a fascinating encounter, it will be interesting to see how Strycova deals with Stosur’s serve. Stosur should be full of confidence after her win over Lucie, I think she should be able to overpower Strycova and win relatively comfortably.
Prediction: Sam Stosur to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets