This is the LAST week of regulation WTA tournaments for 2013! This will also be the last chance for players to clinch a place at the Tournament of Champions in Sofia. Let’s take a look at the draws…
I like Luxembourg’s draw this week, which features Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens as the top two seeds. I was surprised that the Dane didn’t play last week to keep alive her hopes of qualifying for Istanbul as Angelique Kerber snapped up the last spot. Woz opens up against the home favourite, Mandy Minella and could play Monica Niculescu in the second round, which would be just lovely. The most intriguing first round match in the first quarter pits Bojana Jovanovski (as the higher ranked player) against Francesca Schiavone.
Sabine Lisicki will play Donna Vekic in the first round. Lisicki had a grand opportunity to qualify for Istanbul after Wimbledon, but injuries have halted her progress since then The Wimbledon finalist is projected to play Eugenie Bouchard in the quarters. Genie just made the final in Osaka, but I think she will struggle this week coming all the way from Asia and also because she is not used to playing five matches in one week as she did in Osaka. Her first match is against Andrea Petkovic, which should be a good one. I think we could get a Lisicki-Petkovic quarter-final, which surprisingly, would be a first career match between the pair.
Lucie Safarova and Kirsten Flipkens headline the third quarter; Safarova has suddenly sparked into life with a 11-2 W-L record since the US Open, which includes a title in Quebec City and quarter-final appearances in both Tokyo and Beijing. She takes on Peng Shuai in the first round and if she can bring her recent form to the table, she should go a long way this week. Flipkens will play a qualifier before a second rounder against Yanina Wickmayer or Heather Watson. Both are terribly out of form so it will be good to see one of them claim a win, hopefully Watson, but I think it will be Wickmayer.
The final quarter features Sloane Stephens, who suffered a really disappointing loss to Stefanie Voegele in the Linz quarters. It is very possible they could meet at the same stage in the Luxembourg draw too as Voegele has drawn Mona Barthel in the first round, who has shown an incredible lack of mental application through much of this year.
1st Round Predictions: Wozniacki to beat Minella in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy), Schiavone to beat Jovanovski in 3 sets, Petkovic to beat Bouchard in 2 sets, Safarova to beat Peng in 2 tight sets, Wickmayer to beat Watson in 3 sets, Voegele to beat Barthel in 2 sets and Meusburger to beat Begu in 2 sets
Moo’s Final Prediction: Wozniacki d. Safarova
I have never been a big fan of this Moscow tournament with it’s huge cavernous stadium filled with normally 8 spectators and that truly horrible court surface. Angelique Kerber has unsurprisingly withdrawn (and should have done so before the draw was made) which means that Maria Kirilenko has been bumped up to top seed. She could face a very tricky first match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who always thrives at these types of events.
Simona Halep now gets a bye in the first round and has an extremely light draw to contend with. Her projected quarter-final opponent is Carla Suarez Navarro, meanwhile Alisa Kleybanova has earnt a wildcard and has an extremely winnable first round match against the slumping, Varvara Lepchenko.
The third section features the biggest names in the draw in Sam Stosur and Ana Ivanovic. Stosur has Kaia Kanepi in the first round, which is a terribly tough draw and one I think she may stumble against based purely on the fact she is coming all the way from a long week in Osaka where she reached the finals of both singles and doubles. Ivanovic showed all sides to her in the Linz final, but will be raring to go to finish the season with a title and although I am wary of predicting her to win it, she can beat everyone in her path.
Roberta Vinci bookends the draw and will face either Elena Vesnina or Yaroslava Shvedova in the second round; both are players she has lost too in the last year or so and if it’s Vesnina, I think she will lose in the second round. Svetlana Kuznetsova has steadied her year after a tough struggle between Wimbledon and the US Open. She has actually had a remarkably consistent year by her recent standards and she has a very workable draw to the semi-finals.
1st Round Predictions: Pavlyuchenkova to beat Garcia in 2 sets, Pervak to beat Rybarikova in 2 sets, Kleybanova to beat Lepchenko in 3 sets, Kanepi to beat Stosur in 2 tight sets, Cornet to beat Svitolina in 3 sets, Kuznetsova to beat Tsurenko in 2 sets and Vesnina to beat Shvedova in 2 tight sets
Moo’s Final Prediction: Ivanovic d. Pavlyuchenkova