The first week of the season feels about as manic as trying to follow a Grand Slam, but I am not complaining since I am still on my Christmas break. The only tournament with second round matches tomorrow is the WTA event in Brisbane.
On Saturday, I put up some polls in my previews for you to vote for your predicted winners of Brisbane and Auckland. Unsurprisingly, Serena topped the Brisbane poll with over 40% although there were quite a few votes for Jelena Jankovic, Sabine Lisicki and even one for Heather Watson. For Auckland, I was surprised that that there were so many votes for Venus Williams, who is my predicted champion. Ana Ivanovic was also very popular and there were votes for Lucie Safarova and even one for Garbine Muguruza. I will be putting up more polls during the season so please do vote as it’s interesting for me to find out whether people are agreeing with my predictions!
1. Serena Williams v Andrea Petkovic (Brisbane, R2)
Serena Williams will play her first match of the year against Andrea Petkovic. Just before the season began, there was an article about Petkovic, who said that Serena was one of her idols before she stepped onto the tour (see full article here). Petkovic will obviously face a very stern challenge tomorrow although she made a promising start to the season with a 6-3 7-5 victory against Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Surprisingly, Serena and Petkovic have met just once on the tour back in 2010 when Petkovic managed to win a set in their clash on the clay courts of Rome. I think Petkovic’s spirit and determination will win her more games than most players do against Serena, but I still expect the world number one to begin in fine form with a straight sets win.
2. Kaia Kanepi v Carla Suarez Navarro (Brisbane, R2)
The only live WTA match from Brisbane at a reasonable hour for UK fans on Tuesday will be the late night encounter on court 1 between Kaia Kanepi and Carla Suarez Navarro. This match-up promises to be a refreshing affair with both players displaying a contrast in styles. Kanepi overcame Alexandra Panova, 6-3 6-7(8) 6-2. Rather curiously, Kanepi beat Panova in the first round of Brisbane in 2012 (also in three sets) before going on to win the title. Suarez Navarro had a far easier time of it as she defeated Hsieh Su-Wei, 6-2 6-1 in just 58 minutes. Kanepi leads the head-to-head by three wins to two including a victory in their only hard court clash in Fed Cup action. Whenever Kanepi builds any kind of momentum, injury seems to derail her. Fully fit, I think she will start 2014 in good form and the quick conditions in Brisbane should give her the edge over Suarez Navarro.
WTA Brisbane 2nd Round Predictions
Dominika Cibulkova to beat Kimiko Date-Krumm in 2 tight sets
Jelena Jankovic to beat Elina Svitolina in 2 sets