Category Archives: Zhuhai

Venus Williams vs Karolina Pliskova, WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai Final Preview

Zhuhai Final: (1) Venus Williams vs (2) Karolina Pliskova 

The inaugural WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai will end with a bang on Sunday when the top 2 seeds and 2 of the biggest hitters on tour collide with a spot in the top 10 on the line. The winner of this match will end the year in the top 10, a massive added incentive for both ladies to win this final. This will be the first career meeting between Venus and Karolina, it promises to be hotly contested, quality final between two players who have played awesome tennis week and seem to be peaking just in time for the final after perfect semi-final performances. 

Venus Williams seems to be peaking at the right time in Zhuhai. The American played inconsistent tennis during the group stage but managed to claim consecutive 3 set victories over Madison Keys and Saisai Zheng, coming from a set down on both¬†occasions. Venus wasn’t at her best but used all of her experience to peak at the right time in each match.¬†

 

The American’s best performance of the week came on Saturday where she thumped Roberta Vinci 6-2 6-2 to reach Sunday’s final. Venus was clearly on mission, maintaining a level and high intensity for the entire clash. Venus was¬†particularly¬†impressive¬†at the net and served¬†extremely¬†well. It will be important for Venus to produce another¬†high¬†quality serving¬†performance¬†on Sunday against Pliskova, otherwise she will be¬†in trouble.¬†

Karolina Pliskova also saved her best performance of the week thus far for the semi-final stage, recording a comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina. Pliskova was at her powerful best, the Czech was not broken all match and pounced upon the¬†Ukrainian’s¬†weak second serve. Karolina also went unbeaten through the group stage, defeating Jelena Jankovic in 3 sets and Sara Errani in¬†straight¬†sets¬†

 

With so much on the line, this promises to be an¬†extremely¬†competitive¬†final. I’m¬†going to give the slight edge in this match-up to Karolina Pliskova. Both ladies obviously possess extreme power, both from the service line and the baseline. The biggest difference is probably Karolina’s superior serve, the Czech’s serve is far more reliable,¬†especially¬†her second serve. For this reason I think it will be easier for Karolina to break serve which is a massive advantage in this¬†particular¬†match-up which will be dominated by serve.¬†

However, Experience is certainly on the American’s side and Pliskova will need to overcome a poor record in finals. The Czech is 1 win and 4 losses in finals this year. Despite that record, I don’t think nerves were a factor.¬†

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Venus Williams in 3 sets 

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 

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 4 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 4 Match Previews & Predictions 

Venus Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Roberta Vinci secured semi-final births on day 3, the final semi-finalist will be confirmed on the final day of group stage action on Friday. Elina Svitolina and Carla Suarez Navarro will battle for the final position, the winner will progress to the final 4. Roberta Vinci advanced to the semi-finals courtesy of Caroline Wozniacki retiring against Kuznetsova and withdrawing from the event, essentially eliminating the Russian from the event. 

Group B: (2) Carla Suarez Navarro vs (8) Elina Svitolina

Friday’s most intriguing match sees Carla Suarez Navarro and Elina Svitolina go head-to-head for a spot in the semi-finals. Carla and Elina both pick up victories over Andrea Petkovic, the winner of this match will finish on top of Group B and progress to the semi-final stage.¬†

 

Carla Suarez Navarro routed a wounded Andrea Petkovic 6-0 6-0 in her opening group stage match in Zhuhai. Petkovic was not competitive, offering little to no resistance. Nevertheless, Carla was seemingly playing at a pretty reasonable level. 

Elina Svitolina started the week with a 7-6 6-3 victory over Andrea Petkovic. The German was certainly much more¬†competitive¬†in this match, offering¬†much more¬†resistance. Svitolina’s form during the Asian Swing was poor but she seems to be in a better place this week and will be keen to make an impact in Zhuhai, this is a good opportunity for Elina.¬†

The head-to-head record between Carla and Elina is split at 1 win¬†apiece, Elina¬†won their most¬†recent¬†clash 4-6 6-4 6-4 in Cincinnati last year. This should be a good match with both ladies desperate to win, I like Elina’s chances¬†here. Carla and Elina are both great grinders from the baseline, but Elina is more solid and has a greater ability to attack.¬†

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 2 sets 

Group D: (4) Roberta Vinci vs Anna Schmiedlova 

Roberta Vinci and Anna Schmiedlova will go head-to-head for the first time on Friday.¬†Courtesy¬†of Caroline Wozniacki’s withdrawal from the event, Anna Schmiedlova has taken her spot as an alternate.¬†

 

Roberta Vinci started her Zhuhai campaign in style with a commanding 6-4 6-4 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Vinci was on top from start to finish, the Italian’s serve was never broken.¬†

Schmiedlova is certainly a dangerous opponent and is more than capable of competing with the U.S Open finalist, Schmiedlova has nothing to lose and I think she will cause an upset here. 

Prediction: Anna Schmiedlova to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets 

Group A: (7) Madison Keys vs (12) (WC) Saisai Zheng 

The Final match of the day is a dead rubber. Madison and Saisai both lost their opening group stage matches to Venus Williams meaning the American will finish on top of the group and advance to the semi-finals. 

Madison and Saisai both showed promising signs in their opening group matches despite being defeated. Keys came particularly close to victory, outplaying Venus for the majority of the first 2 sets but ultimately succumbing 6-3 6-7 1-6.  Keys will be hoping to end the best season of he career on a high with a victory over Zheng. 

 

Saisai Zheng pushed Venus Williams much more than expected. Saisai made a terrific start to the match and hung on the claim the first set. However Venus would eventually raise her level to steamroll past the local hopeful 4-6 6-1 6-1. 

This will be the first career meeting between the pair and it should end in a victory for the American, unless she has a really bad day. 

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 3 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 3 Match Previews & Predictions

The group stage of the WTA Elite Trophy continues in Zhuhai on Thursday with 3 critical matches.  The competition is starting to head up, the contenders are starting to be separated from the pretenders. The two tournament favourites will be in action on Thursday, Venus Williams will face local wild card Saisai Zheng whilst Caroline Wozniacki will make her first appearance of the week when she comes up against Svetlana Kuznetsova. 

Group A: (1) Venus Williams vs (12) (WC) Saisai Zheng

Local wild card Saisai Zheng will contest her first match of the tournament against Venus Williams in Thursday’s opening match of the day in Zhuhai. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, on paper it looks like a total mismatch.¬†

Venus Williams made a positive start to her Zhuhai campaign, claiming an extremely hard-fought 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory over compatriot Madison Keys in the first match of the tournament. Venus was the second best player for the majority of the first couple of sets but she used all of her experience to fight her way out of trouble before running away with the match in the deciding set. Venus can confirm her place in the semi-finals with a victory over Zheng. 

 

Saisai Zheng arrives in Zhuhai in terrible form, having lost 5 matches in a row including a first round loss at an ITF event in Nanjing last week. It would take an almighty effort from Zheng to even be competitive in a match against Venus Williams. 

Saisai doesn’t have any real weapons and is infamous for her use of a high loopy shots, her usual tactics are highly unlikely to trouble a determined Williams. Venus should win this one easily.¬†

Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Saisai Zheng in 2 sets 
Group D: (5) Caroline Wozniacki vs (11) Svetlana Kuznetsova

Caroline Wozniacki will make her eagerly awaited Zhuhai debut on Thursday, the Dane will play Svetlana Kuznetsova who must defeat Wozniacki to keep her Zhuhai campaign alive after losing to Roberta Vinci in straight sets on Wednesday. 

 

These two ladies have a long history, Wozniacki leads the head-to-head series 6-4 but Kuznetsova has won 2 of their last 3 encounters. Wozniacki won their most recent clash 6-7 6-3 6-1 in Eastbourne earlier this year, I expect a similar result in Zhuhai. 

Wozniacki’s form during the Asian Swing was poor but after a couple of weeks off she should be refreshed and ready to compete at a high level in Zhuhai. The fast courts in Zhuhai don’t really suit Kuznetsova, Wozniacki should certainly find a way to win this one.

Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 3 sets 

Group C: (3) Karolina Pliskova vs (6) Sara Errani 

Perhaps the most intriguing match of the day is saved until last. When Karolina Pliskova and Sara Errani go head-to-head we will witness a clash of extreme contrasting styles. It will be fascinating to see how this match pans out. 

Karolina Pliskova made an impressive start in Zhuhai with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory over Jelena Jankovic. Pliskova looked down and out after dropping the second set, Karolina was seemingly exhausted by the start of the third set. However the Czech raised her level to an insane high, blasting winner after winner past Jankovic to claim a critical victory. 

 

Sara Errani was unable to defeat Jankovic in her opening group match, succumbing 4-6 5-7 to the Serb in a gruelling match. Errani won the only previous clash between the pair, a 6-1 6-3 win in Sydney back in 2013. 

Karolina Pliskova can confirm her spot in the semi-finals with a victory over Errani. If the Italian wins, things get very complicated as all 3 ladies in the group will end on 1 win apiece. Although Pliskova seemed to be struggling¬†physically¬†at times, I think she will be good enough to hit through Errani¬†on these quick courts. Pliskova will be all over Errani’s serve, the key is for Pliskova to focus on her own serve.¬†

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets 

WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai Day 2 Match Previews & Predictions

Zhuhai Day 2 Match Previews & Predictions

The inaugural Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy commenced on Monday in Zhuhai. It looks like the controversial tournament will be much better than expected. The opening day was a major success with 3 entertaining, hard-fought matches in front of a large crowd. Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Elina Svitolina all recorded victories.  Play will continue on Wednesday with 3 more group stage matches.

 

Group D: (4) Roberta Vinci vs (11) Svetlana Kuznetsova

The first match from Group D will kick-start proceedings on Wednesday, U.S Open finalist Roberta Vinci will come up against Moscow champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both veterans of the tour have ended the season on a high and are showing no signs of letting up.

Kuznetsova arrives on Zhuhai on a high after claiming her biggest title in year at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Conversely, Vinci’s form has deteriorated since her stunning run to the final at the U.S open, suffering early round losses in Beijing and Linz.

Kuznetsova holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Vinci and won their most recent clash 6-2 6-3 in Moscow back in 2013. The Russian should have a slight edge in this match-up, I think she will continue her recent winning ways with a victory over the Italian. 

Prediction: Svetlana Kuznetsova to defeat Roberta Vinci in 2 sets

 

Group C: (3) Karolina Pliskova vs (9) Jelena Jankovic

Karolina Pliskova will make her Zhuhai debut on Wednesday against Jelena Jankovic. The Serb made a winning start to her campaign on Tuesday by defeating Sara Errani 6-4 7-5. A victory for Jankovic in this match will see her confirm her spot in the semi-finals.

 

In their only previous encounter, Jankovic defeated Pliskova 6-2 3-6 7-5 in Cincinnati earlier this year. Pliskova squandered a major lead in the final set of that match. This isn’t the greatest match-up for Pliskova because of Jankovic’s solid return and ability to absorb pace.

Pliskova’s recent form has been poor and she will probably be rusty in her first match at the event. Jankovic’s recent form has been good and she will be better adjusted to the conditions. The Serb should get the job done here if she makes the most of her opportunities. 

Prediction: Jelena Jankovic to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets

 

Group B: (2) Carla Suarez Navarro vs (10) Andrea Petkovic

Arguably the 2 most out of form players in Zhuhai will go head-to-head in the final match of the day. This will be Carla’s first match of the tournament, whilst for Andrea Petkovic it is a must win clash after she lost her opening match 6-7 3-6 to Elina Svitolina.

 

Andrea Petkovic has now lost 4 matches in a row whilst Suarez Navarro’s last match was a disastrous early round loss in Moscow which saw her squander an opportunity to compete in Singapore. Carla did however reach the doubles final in Singapore alongside Garbine Muguruza.

Suarez Navarro holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Andrea, including a 6-3 6-3 victory in their most recent encounter at the semi-final stage in Miami earlier this year. This is a tough match to call because both players are in such poor form, I will side with Andrea just because she has already played a match in Zhuhai and the quicker conditions should help her.

Prediction: Andrea Petkovic to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 3 sets