A rough week of predictions in Stuttgart for moi so far! Let’s see if I can improve for the semi-finals…
1.Maria Sharapova v Angelique Kerber
For the second day in a row, Maria Sharapova was stretched to three sets as she fended off a late surge from Ana Ivanovic, who certainly had her moments in an entertaining quarter, which Sharapova won 7-5 4-6 6-4. The second set was particularly impressive from Ivanovic, but a lengthy break at the end of the second set from Maria appeared to frustrate and halt the momentum of the Ivanovic train. She did recover from two breaks down, throwing in a delay of her own, but a horrid service game at 4-4 was the final straw. Sharapova faces Angelique Kerber for the first time in 2013 as she got the better of Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-3 7-6(2) Kerber has played two solid matches this week, but Sharapova is a big step up.
Kerber has beaten Sharapova in Paris Indoors last year, which was the last time Sharapova lost to a player outside of the top 20. However Sharapova restored parity with a straight sets win in Rome and a demolition in Beijing before Kerber curiously retired at 6-0 3-0 down. Kerber will have the home crowd behind her and Sharapova has been nowhere near her best this week. Two matches in though and Sharapova will be starting to click through the gears so she will definitely go in as the favourite…
Prediction – Sharapova to beat Kerber in 2 sets
2. Bethanie Mattek-Sands v Li Na
What a stunning week from Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who has come through three rounds of qualifying and knocked out three quality players in main draw action to reach the semi-finals. Mattek-Sands followed up a three set, late night win over Sara Errani on Thursday/Friday with a straight sets triumph over Sabine Lisicki, 6-4 6-2. She now takes on Li Na, who overcame a late wobble to pass the challenge of Petra Kvitova, 6-3 7-5. Li blew two shots at serving for the match, but still had the solid groundies to rely on at the end to get past a wavering Kvitova. Li did a great job of exposing Kvitova’s poor movement and in my eyes, is currently the 4th best player on the tour. Li and Mattek-Sands have played each other once with Li winning in three sets on the clay of Madrid. Credit to Mattek-Sands because she has been excellent this week, but Li is a class above the players she has played this week and will be much fresher as well…
Prediction – Li to beat Mattek-Sands (1 tight, 1 easy)