Auckland saw a typical day at a WTA International event with half of the seeds tumbling including an impressive performance by the 16 year old Ana Konjuh, who defeated Roberta Vinci in three sets. None of the second round matches in Auckland look particularly engaging so my preview for tennis on New Year’s Day will focus on Brisbane.
Before the previews, here is a video produced by @MGLovesTennis from the Hopman Cup. The best bit is Bouchard’s reaction 🙂 I really do enjoy the Hopman Cup and particularly the mixed doubles, but it gets somewhat lost in this crazy opening week. I wish it was in the second week of the Aussie swing before the Australian Open gets underway.
1. Angelique Kerber v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (WTA Brisbane, R2)
The WTA match of the day comes from Brisbane where Angelique Kerber will take on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Kerber produced a fine first round performance to dispatch Kristina Mladenovic, 6-2 6-2. I was particularly impressed with Kerber’s serve as she was not broken once during the match and her poise on the key points. It was the first time in a while I had watched Mladenovic and I was a little disappointed. Pavlyuchenkova always seems to make life difficult for herself and she had a typically troublesome first round match. She has lost a lot of these close matches so it was positive to see her overcome Alla Kudryavtseva, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3 where she won the last five games of the match.
Pavluychenkova has beaten Kerber twice including a victory in Brisbane last year. Kerber did win their last match in Stuttgart and rather convincingly too, 6-0 6-4. I originally went for Pavlyuchenkova in my predictions but on this rare occasion, I have had a change of heart after watching Kerber’s first round match. The winner of this match will play an in-form, Jelena Jankovic and I do hope it is Kerber because that would have the potential to be a fantastic match.
Prediction: Kerber to beat Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets
2. Grigor Dimitrov v Marin Cilic (ATP Brisbane, R2)
Grigor Dimitrov and Marin Cilic will square off in the most intriguing of the mens matches in Brisbane tomorrow. Dimitrov shared the evening line-up with his girlfriend, Maria Sharapova on Monday and both were very convincing; Dimitrov required just 58 minutes to defeat Robin Haase, 6-2 6-3. Cilic had a tougher match, but it was only his third in the last seven months after coming back from the drugs ban so he can be afforded some time to shake off the rust. His quality eventually prevailed in defeating Denis Istomin, 6-7(3) 7-6(5) 6-4. Dimitrov and Cilic have never played each other before and on the quick Pat Rafter Arena court, I think this will be a tight and entertaining match. I orginally went for Cilic and although my opinion is wavering like Pav v Kerber, I will stick by my original prediction of Cilic.
Prediction: Cilic to beat Dimitrov in 3 sets
I am really on the fence with both matches previewed above so I’d love to know who you think will prevail in both matches.
WTA Brisbane 2nd Round Predictions
Sabine Lisicki to beat Stefanie Voegele in 2 tight sets
Victoria Azarenka to beat Casey Dellacqua in 2 sets
I had prepared a full preview for Sharapova v Barty, but Barty has pulled out with a left adductor tear. Really disappointing news for Ashleigh because I think this would have been a fun match.
ATP Brisbane 2nd Round Predictions
Kei Nishikori to beat Matt Ebden in 2 sets
Roger Federer to beat Jarkko Nieminen in 2 sets
Sam Querrey to beat Marinko Matosevic in 3 sets
WTA Auckland 2nd Round Predictions
Kirsten Flipkens to beat Karoline Pliskova in 2 sets
Jamie Hampton to beat Kristyna Pliskova in 3 sets
Venus Willams to beat Yvonne Meusburger in 2 sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Johanna Larsson in 2 tight sets
Ana Konjuh to beat Lauren Davis in 3 sets
Ayumi Morita to beat Kurumi Nara in 3 sets
Garbine Muguruza to beat Sharon Fichman in 2 sets
Julia Goerges to beat Sachie Ishizu in 3 sets
WTA Shenzhen 2nd Round Predictions
Klara Zakopalova to beat Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in 2 sets
Li Na to beat Nadiya Kichenok in 2 sets
Sara Errani to Vania King in 2 tight sets
Zheng Jie to beat Barbara Zahlavova Strycova in 3 sets
Monica Niculescu to beat Yung-Jan Chan in 2 tight sets
Jana Cepelova to beat Anna-Lena Friedsam in 3 sets
Annika Beck to beat Viktorija Golubic in 2 sets