It is my intention over the next year to bring you something a bit different with my conclusions from each week. This review has got slightly lost in the ether as I have been meticulously taking apart the Australian Open draws. It was a pretty monumental week on the WTA tour with two qualifiers coming through to win their first ever titles. On the men’s side, Juan Martin del Potro started the season in convincing form in Sydney.
WTA Sydney: Tsvetana Pironkova d. Angelique Kerber, 6-4 6-4 (Final)
The week before a Grand Slam often throws up some strange results, but none stranger than Tsvetana Pironkova blazing through the field, taking three top ten scalps (and all in straight sets) to claim a first WTA title. Pironkova normally comes alive during the grass court season where the low bounce of the court suits her game perfectly; however the results in Sydney indicated there was something grass-like about the courts. Pironkova seemed to endear herself to all tennis fans with her heartfelt speech after beating Kerber in the final. I am not sure if this victory will translate into a complete change of fortunes, but it was clear to see that she had been working hard on her mentality and fitness, as she stated in some of her post-match interviews. It was a fantastic storyline for just week two on the WTA tour.
Aside from Pironkova, Madison Keys had a great week reaching her first Premier semi-final. I think she has so many weapons including that big serve, but tactically, she still has a lot of things to work on. I question whether she has what it takes right now against players who have variety in their game. She still needs to prove she is more than just a big server and heavy hitter. Sydney saw many of the top seeds, such as Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki fall early. I think that is inevitable to see results like this with a Grand Slam just around the corner.
Best match of the week: Safarova d. Wozniacki, 6-4 7-6(7) (R2)
Moo’s original predictions: 48% correct picks and correctly predicted the finalist. It was a tough draw to call!
WTA Hobart: Garbine Muguruza d. Klara Zakopalova, 6-4 6-0 (Final)
Pironkova’s run in Sydney was matched by Garbine Muguruza who also won eight matches, coming through qualifying and ripping through the main draw without losing a set. In fact Muguruza lost just 7 games through qualifying and 15 games in the main draw. At 20 years old, she is one of many promising talents on the WTA tour, but one that has garnered little attention up till now. Muguruza spent six months on the sidelines after ankle surgery, but in just her second tournament back, she looks like the real deal. I am very interested to see how she progresses throughout the year, hopefully staying injury free.
Klara Zakopalova did well to make the final in Hobart. Every now and then, she manages to string some impressive results together, but she had no answers in the final. Sam Stosur reached the semi-finals, which was a pretty awesome achievement considering we are in Australia. She came through two matches that went into a third set tiebreak (including saving match points in her second round match against Kristina Mladenovic) so coming to Hobart, a more intimate venue with a weaker draw was in my opinion, a good idea.
Moo’s original predictions: 39% correct picks. At the quarter-final stage, I had all 4 semi-finalists still live! Then it went downhill…
ATP Sydney: Juan Martin del Potro d. Bernard Tomic, 6-3 6-1 (Final)
It took him some time to get going, but once he did, Juan Martin del Potro looked in impressive form as he lost just ten games in his final two matches against Dmitry Tursunov and Bernard Tomic. I have always thought del Potro needed quite a few matches to find his rhythm so I haven’t really thought that the Australian Open was going to be his tournament. Four matches in Sydney will certainly have helped and personally, I hope he can bring out the killer forehand and do some damage in Melbourne. Tomic rose to the occasion in Australia once more, although not in the final, as he was poor in the second set. There weren’t a great deal of headlines to take away from the rest of the draw; Jerzy Janowicz is way short of match fitness and Marin Cilic was disappointing this week too. Sergiy Stakhovsky had a good week making the semi-finals, but I do hope that was a flash in the pan. His most recent Q&A session on Twitter showed his ego is still through the roof and made him top of my list, “not a fan of…”.
Moo’s original predictions: 63% correct picks, correctly predicted champion and finalist. This was my best tournament of the week!
ATP Auckland: John Isner d. Yen-Hsun Lu, 7-6(4) 7-6(7) (Final)
I really enjoy the women’s tournament in Auckland and for some reason, I have never really got on board with the men’s. John Isner won the title, which was rather a surprise as I expected David Ferrer to prevail. He was taken out by Yen-Hsun Lu in the semi-finals, who enjoyed a superb week in reaching the final. I didn’t take much away from this tournament other than Ferrer is not quite himself after disappointing losses in his two Australian Open tune-up events. Benoit Paire and Kevin Anderson have both made unimpressive starts to the year; Anderson deserves some slack as Ben Rothenberg tweeted he was taken to hospital in Brisbane through illness, but Paire could have done better this week. He lost in straight sets to Roberto Bautista Agut, a match you would have thought he would win. But it’s Benoit.
Moo’s original predictions: Let’s not discuss 😉