Category Archives: WTA Finals

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Semi-Final Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Semi-Final Match Previews & Predictions

The introduction of the WTA Elite trophy in Zhuhai was quite controversial with many questioning the timing and player commitment to the tournament. However the event has been pretty successful thus far with good crowds and some quality matches, amongst some disappointing retirements. The tournament promises to end with a bang, we are left with 4 worthy semi-finalists and 3 entertaining hard-fought battles to come. 

Semi-Final #1: (1) Venus Williams vs (4) Roberta Vinci

Saturday’s first semi-final in Zhuhai will be a battle between the two veterans in the field. This promises to be a heated battle given the controversial ending to their most recent clash in Wuhan a couple of months ago. Roberta Vinci will ¬†enter this match searching for her first career victory over the American.¬†

 

Venus Williams won both of her group stage matches, fighting back from a set down on both occasions. Venus started the week with a 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory over Madison Keys. Venus was outplayed for the majority of the opening 2 sets but used all of her experience to send the match to a decider before running away with the match. Venus made a sluggish start to her second match, but recovered well to claim a 4-6 6-1 6-1 win over Saisai Zheng. Venus is now extremely close to securing a spot in the top 10, she will certainly do that is she claims the title in Zhuhai. 

Roberta Vinci started the week with an impressive 6-4 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, not dropping serve throughout the whole match. Roberta’s second match didn’t go so well, suffering a horror 1-6 0-6 loss to a red-hot Anna Schmiedlova. Roberta’s spot in the semi-finals was already confirmed before her match with Anna, that could certainly have something to do with the lopsided scoreline.¬†

 

Venus holds a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record over Roberta and has the added advantage of a day of rest heading into this match. Venus defeated Roberta 5-7 6-2 7-6 in their most recent clash at the semi-final stage in Wuhan. The quick courts  in Zhuhai will certainly help Venus, I suspect the American will continue her dominance over the Italian with a hard-fought win to advance to the final. 

Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets

 

Semi-Final #2: (8) Elina Svitolina vs (3) Karolina Pliskova 

Saturday’s second semi-final of the day promises to be a cracker when fellow rising stars Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova collide for a place in Sunday’s final. Both Elina and Karolina are searching for their biggest career title this week, it would be the perfect way to end career best seasons for both ladies. Both ladies went unbeaten through the group stage and bring good form into Saturday night’s match.¬†

 

Elina Svitolina has been at her fighting best this week in Zhuhai. The¬†Ukrainian¬†started the week with a 7-6 6-3 victory over Andrea Petkovic before¬†defeating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7 6-1 6-3. Elina’s win over Carla was¬†particularly¬†impressive, Elina scrambled well from the¬†baseline,¬†committing to chasing down every ball. Elina will need to raise her level on Saturday if she is to defeat Karolina for the first time.¬†

Karolina Pliskova has been at her thunderous best this week. Stunning Jelena Jankovic with a 6-4 2-6 6-3 victory before thumping Sara Errani 6-0 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals. The quick courts in Zhuhai really seem to help Karolina, certainly in a match-up against counter-punchers. 

 

Karolina Pliskova holds a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record over Elina, winning their most recent clash 2-6 6-4 6-4 in Wuhan a couple of months ago. Pliskova seems to have the edge over Elina, and I suspect that will once again be the case on Saturday. 

Pliskova has the added advantage of having a day of rest before this match whilst Svitolina played a gruelling match against Carla on Friday evening. The quick surface will also help Pliskova hit through Svitolina. 

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Elina Svitolina in 2 sets 

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Petra Kvitova, WTA Finals Singapore Final Preview

Singapore Final: (5) Agnieszka Radwanska vs (4) Petra Kvitova

History will be made on Sunday at the WTA Finals in Singapore when Agnieszka Radwanska comes up against Petra Kvitova for the title. For the first time a player that lost 2 matches in the group stage will win the title. This is a wonderful opportunity for both Aga and Petra, both have dealt with a lot in 2015, it will be a fairy-tale finish to the year for whoever emerges victorious on Sunday.

 

Agnieszka Radwanska became the first Pole to reach the Final at the WTA Finals courtesy of a stunning 6-7 6-3 7-5 semi-final victory over Garbine Muguruza. It was an epic match full of momentum swings. Radwanska seemed to be in control of the 1st set tiebreaker, but squandered a 4-1 lead to loss the 1st set. Aga had to dig deep to turn the match around and she did just that, changing the dynamic of the match with a fast start to the 2nd set. After levelling the match at 1 set all, Aga seemed to be in total control of the match when she opened up a 4-1 lead in the deciding set. However Garbine came storming back to level the match at 4-4. Aga did extremely well to keep her composure and absorb everything Garbine threw at her and ultimately outlast her opponent.

What started out as such a disappointing week for Aga has now turned into an extremely successful week. After slumping to 0-2 in the group stage, no one could have imagined that Aga would be in Sunday’s final. Radwanska came extremely close to being eliminated from the group stage against Simona Halep, Aga needed to win in straight sets and found herself down 1-5 in the 1st set tiebreaker, from there Radwanska would win 6 straight points to keep her tournament alive. Aga would ultimately go on to win the match 7-6 6-1, with her victory over Muguruza on Saturday Aga has now won back-to-back matches against top 5 opponents and has reached 50 wins in season 2015.

Radwanska’s attitude in her last two matches has been very impressive, she has looked to be much more aggressive and has brought a much better intensity to the court. The Pole was rewarded with 2 of her best victories of the year and will need to bring that attitude to the court on Sunday if she is to claim the biggest tile of her career against an opponent she has a poor record against.

 

Petra Kvitova’s form during the group stage was generally quite uninspiring. The Czech started the week with a straight sets loss to Angelique Kerber before defeating Lucie Safarova in straight sets in what was a pretty messy match. Petra slumped to 1-2 in the white group courtesy of a 3 set loss to Garbine Muguruza. It seemed like Petra’s Singapore campaign was over as she needed Lucie Safarova to defeat Angelique Kerber to advance to the semi-finals. However Safarova pulled off the miracle and sent Kvitova into the semi-finals.

Petra’s 6-3 7-6 semi-final victory over Maria Sharapova was clearly her best performance of the week. Petra brought a superior intensity to the court, raising her level to suit the occasion. Kvitova stunned Maria in the first set and it seemed like the Russian would respond by sending the match to a decider. Sharapova led 5-1 in the second set but Kvitova would stage a stunning comeback to force a tiebreaker. Kvitova played an extremely solid tiebreak to secure her spot in Sunday’s final. Kvitova will be aiming for her second WTA Finals title, she will be confident heading into the match given her record against Radwanska.

Petra Kvitova holds a 6-2 head-to-head record over Radwanska and has won 3 of the last 4 encounters between the pair. Their most reverent match was in New Haven earlier this year, Kvitova prevailed 7-5 6-4. Perhaps their most relevant previous meeting was in Singapore last year where Radwanska claimed a comfortable 6-2 6-3 victory over Petra.

 

I really like Radwanska’s chances in this match. Aga has played beautiful tennis in her last 2 matches and will be extremely desperate to claim the biggest title of her career. Kvitova’s form during the group stage was poor but she somehow managed to play an amazing match against Sharapova, I doubt Kvitova will be able to produce a similar performance on Sunday.

The surface in Singapore actually favours Radwanska in this match-up, the Pole will be able to absorb enough of Kvitova’s pace on these dead courts. Radwanska just needs to play like she has in her last 2 matches and she will get the victory in this match. I still don’t think Kvitova is in a good place physically and Radwanska will expose this.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Petra Kvitova in 2 sets

Radwanska back from the dead: Into the Final in Singapore

Agnieszka Radwanska will compete in the final of WTA Finals for the first time in her career after a stunning 6-7 6-3 7-5 victory over Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals on Saturday evening.

Radwanska has made history in Singapore this week, becoming the first Pole to reach the Final at the WTA Finals and becoming the first player to finish the group stage with a 1-2 win/loss record to reach the final since Venus Williams did so in 2009. Earlier in the week, Radwanska became the 16th lady to reach 500 career victories on the WTA tour and she has now won over $20 million in prize money.

 

Radwanska looked down and out after slumping to 0-2 courtesy of losses to Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta. It would have been very easy for Radwanska to concede defeat and give up on her Singapore campaign after 2 disappointing losses. However Radwanska rebounded with an impressive 7-6 6-1 victory over Simona Halep to advance into the semi-finals. Aga needed to win in 2 sets and was 2 points away from elimination at 1-5 in the 1st set tiebreak before winning 6 straight points.

Radwanska once again showed her fighting spirit on Saturday. The Pole was extremely emotional after her victory over Muguruza, admitting that she didn’t think it would be possible to come back after losing an extremely close first set.

 

It was a match full of momentum swings, after losing a tight opening set, Radwanska came out strong in the second set to open up a commanding lead before Muguruza came storming back. Radwanska managed to weather the storm and send the match to a decider. The deciding set followed a similar path, Radwanska opened up a nice lead but Muguruza would blast her way back into the match despite being clearly fatigued. Radwanska was ultimately the better player, bringing a stunning mix of deft touch and aggression to the court to record a famous victory.

Radwanska now has a chance to win the biggest tile of her career, it would be a truly amazing end to the season for Radwanska considering the bitter lows during the middle of the year. No matter what happens, this tournament and the Asian swing in general will give Radwanska a much needed confidence boost heading into season 2016.

Maria Sharapova vs Petra Kvitova, WTA Finals SF Preview

WTA Finals SF: (3) Maria Sharapova vs (5) Petra Kvitova

Saturday’s 2nd semi-final in Singapore sees Maria Sharapova come up against Petra Kvitova, a battle between the only former champions competing at the event this week. Maria Sharapova was the standout performer during the group stage, winning all 3 of her matches in the red group. Petra Kvitova’s form was far less convincing but luck was on her side as she managed to sneak through the group stage with only 1 victory. Momentum is certainly on Sharapova’s side heading into this match, Kvitova will need to raise her level dramatically to pull off an unlikely upset victory. 

 

Little was expected of Maria Sharapova this week in Singapore given that she arrived at the event having not won a match since Wimbledon. Maria spent the U.S Open on the sidelines and missed and was unable to complete a match during the Asian swing. However Sharapova has reminded the tennis world that she is the ultimate professional, showing no signs of rust on route to winning all 3 of her group stage matches.

Sharapova started the week with an extremely hard-fought 4-6 6-3 6-4 win over Agnieszka Radwanska before claiming an equally impressive 6-4 6-4 win over the top seeded Simona Halep. Sharapova entered her final group match against Flavia Pennetta knowing that she only needed to win 1 set to advance to the semi-finals, Sharapova didn’t seem to take any notice of that, producing a ruthless display of power-hitting tennis to claim a 7-5 6-1 victory. Maria should certainly be considered the favourite to win the title form here, she will be extremely hard to beat.

 

Petra Kvitova’s form during the group stage has generally been quite poor. Kvitova started the week with a wayward performance, succumbing to Angelique Kerber 2-6 6-7. The crucial match ended up being her 7-5 7-5 victory over Lucie Safarova which would ultimately be the reason she advanced to the semi-finals. Kvitova’s final group stage match was a 4-6 6-4 5-7 loss to Garbine Muguruza. It was a strange match which seemed to lack intensity until an epic finish. Kvitova twice went up a break in the deciding set but was unable to maintain her lead as Garbine came storming back to deny the Czech.

Kvitova’s semi-final hopes seemed all but gone, needing Lucie Safarova to defeat Angelique Kerber in straight sets. However Petra’s Fed Cup teammate did her a massive favour, defeating a frustrated Kerber 6-4 6-3 to send Kvitova through to the semi-finals. Kvitova will need to raise her level dramatically if she is to stop a red-hot Sharapova.

 

Maria Sharapova holds a 6-3 head-to-head record over Petra Kvitova and has won 5 of the last 6 encounters between the pair. However it was Petra Kvitova won emerged victorious in their most recent match, a 6-3 6-2 victory at the group stage in Singapore last year. Kvitova’s victory broke a string of 5 consecutive losses to Sharapova dating back to the Australian Open in 2012.

Maria Sharapova seems well placed heading into this match. Maria has clearly been the most impressive of the elite 8 this week and with a day of rest she will be ready to rumble on Saturday. Conversely, Kvitova’s form has been lacklustre and she seems low on energy. A 2 and a half hour match on Friday was not ideal preparation. All signs point to a Sharapova victory.

Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Petra Kvitova in 2 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs Agnieszka Radwanska, WTA Finals SF Preview

WTA Finals SF: (2) Garbine Muguruza vs (5) Agnieszka Radwanska

Garbine Muguruza and Agnieszka Radwanska will resume hostilities on Saturday when they go head-to-head in the first semi-final at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Garbine Muguruza has made the perfect start to her first ever WTA Finals campaign, emerging from the white group undefeated. In contrast, Agnieszka Radwanska claimed just 1 victory, but managed to sneak into the final 4 for a second year in a row courtesy of a stunning straight set win over Simona Halep. All the pressure will be on Garbine, the Spaniard’s form throughout the tournament has been far greater and she has won the last 4 matches against the Pole. It will be interesting to see how Garbine handles the pressure.

 

Garbine Muguruza finished at the top of the white group, winning all 3 of her group stage matches. Garbine was at her ruthless best in her first 2 matches, defeating Lucie Safarova 7-6 6-3 before claiming her 4th consecutive win over Angelique Kerber with a 6-4 6-4 win.

Garbine entered her final group stage match with Petra Kvitova on Friday knowing that she needed to win just 1 set to confirm her place in the semi-finals. It ended up being an extremely close finish, Muguruza was very cool under pressure closing out a 6-4 4-6 7-5 win on her 4th match point. Garbine will be full of confidence heading into the semi-final stage given her recent dominance of Radwanska.

Agnieszka Radwanska looked down and out after slumping to 0-2 in the red group courtesy of losses to Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta in her opening group stage matches. The manner in which Aga lost her opening two matches was quite disappointing, the Pole was seemingly in control of matches before being overrun. Aga was a set up against Sharapova before succumbing 6-4 3-6 4-6, in her second match Aga failed to serve out the first before going down 6-7 4-6 to Flavia Pennetta.

 

Aga certainly raised her intensity in final group stage, Aga needed to win in straight sets to keep her Singapore campaign alive and that’s exactly what she did. The Pole claimed an impressive 7-6 6-1 victory over the top seeded Simona Halep, sending the Romanian out of the tournament.

Aga trailed 1-5 in the first set tiebreaker before raising her game to an insane high to win the next 6 points and claim the critical first set. The second set was routine for Aga as Simona seemed to accept defeat, having no answers to Radwanska’s game. Aga played the match with an aggressive mindset, hitting 30 winners (10 more than Halep), a mindset which she must bring into her semi-final if she is to have a chance against an opponent she has recently struggled against.

 

Muguruza holds a 4-2 head-to-head record over Radwanska. Radwanska won the first 2 matches between the pair but Garbine has won the last 4 matches, all 4 of those victories came in 2015. 3 of the matches went the distance including the 2 most recent matches, a 6-2 3-6 6-3 win in the Wimbledon semi-finals and a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win at the semi-final stage in Beijing.

Both ladies will be feeling very different heading into this match, for the first time Garbine will enter a match with Radwanska as the clear favourite. All the pressure is on Muguruza after she stormed through the group stage without dropping a match. Garbine has now played 6 days in a row given she is also competing in the doubles. After a 2 and a half hour match on Friday against Kvitova, Mugruza will be physically vulnerable on Saturday. Radwanska is the type of opponent that can make the most of this situation.

 

I like Radwanska’s chances in this match. Aga has played far less tennis this week and is likely to be much fresher, both physically and mentally heading into this match. All the pressure is on Muguruza, she is yet to prove that she can handle the pressure at this stage of a big event. Radwanska is far more experienced at this level and should be smart enough to avoid a 5th consecutive loss to Muguruza, especially because Muguruza is likely to be physically and mentally fatigued. 

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Garbine Muguruza in 3 sets