WTA Doha: Preview and Predictions

This week’s WTA Premier event in Doha has lost Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova from the fold, which means Li Na goes in as the number one seed.  Despite the casualties, the draw remains strong and has the potential for some upsets paving the way for an exciting week.  Let’s take a look at the draw where the top eight seeds all have byes into the second round…

FIRST QUARTER: L.Na (1) v A.Kerber (6)


Li Na

I know that Li Na is the Australian Open champion and all that, but it still seems odd to see her name at the top of the draw for a Premier event.  Li is unbeaten in 2014 after winning Shenzhen and then claiming her second Grand Slam title in Melbourne, beating Dominika Cibulkova in the final.  She didn’t react well to winning her first Grand Slam at Roland Garros in 2011 as she posted a 7-9 W-L record for the remainder of 2011.  This time round, Li is a much more mature player and I believe she will respond positively.  Her first match will be against either Francesca Schiavone or Magdalena Rybarikova and her first seeded opponent is projected to be Sloane Stephens.

Likely to be contesting for a quarter-final spot, Angelique Kerber and Ana Ivanovic are projected to meet in the third round.  The pair have played some exciting matches including an incredibly intense final in Linz last year.  Ivanovic opens against Daniela Hantuchova in the first round, meanwhile Kerber’s first match will be against Pattaya City finalist, Karoline Pliskova or Cagla Buyukakchay.  Ivanovic had a huge breakthrough win over Serena Williams at the Australian Open and I am intrigued to see how she responds.  Kerber played really well in Fed Cup action this weekend with wins over both Hantuchova and Cibulkova, but has struggled in tight three set matches this year, winning just one of four three setters in 2014.

1st Round Predictions: Schiavone to beat Rybarikova in 2 sets, Stephens to beat Cetkovska in 3 sets, Ivanovic to beat Hantuchova in 2 tight sets and Zakopalova to beat Svitolina in 3 sets

Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Li v Kerber

SECOND QUARTER: P.Kvitova (3) v J.Jankovic (5)


Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova returns to action for the first time since the Australian Open having pulled out of Paris and Fed Cup action due to illness.  Kvitova could face a rocky road in Doha with her first match against Venus Williams or Petra Martic.  Venus and Petra last played in Tokyo, a terrific semi-final match that ranked in my top ten best matches from 2013.  Also in this section are Lucie Safarova and Kirsten Flipkens, who play out one of the sure-to-be more tightly contested first round matches.

Jelena Jankovic is Kvitova’s projected quarter-final opponent  and will be playing for the first time since being dropped a third set bagel in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Simona Halep.  Jankovic could meet the Australian Open finalist, Dominika Cibulkova in the third round, which would be an interesting match-up.  Cibulkova, who plays Alisa Kleybanova in the first round, lost both her Fed Cup matches this weekend, including one from match point up against Andrea Petkovic.  I do like Jankovic’s chances this week and her draw is encouraging, particularly with Kvitova having very few matches under her belt.

1st Round Predictions: Safarova to beat Flipkens in 3 sets, V.Williams to beat Martic in 2 sets, Cibulkova to beat Kleybanova in 2 sets, Cornet to beat Voegele in 2 sets and Knapp to beat Garcia in 2 sets

Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: V.Williams v Jankovic

THIRD QUARTER: S.Halep (7) v S.Errani (4)


Flavia Pennetta

If any surprises are going to happen, I think the third quarter is most likely to produce them.  Simona Halep broke new ground at the Australian Open reaching the quarter-finals; however I have got the feeling she hasn’t got close to reaching her 2013 level and is still finding her feet, now with a new coach.  Her first match against Kaia Kanepi or Varvara Lepchenko will not be an easy one.  Kanepi made the quarter-finals of Brisbane and was very unlucky to draw a red-hot Garbine Muguruza in Melbourne.  A match-up between Kanepi and Halep would be a 50/50 match in my opinion.

Sara Errani restored some hope in making the final in Paris last week after a disappointing start to the season down under.  Like Halep, she faces an early test with potentially Flavia Pennetta in the second round.  Pennetta reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and comprehensively defeated Errani at the US Open last year.  Golden girl on the WTA tour, Eugenie Bouchard is in this section and seeded at a Premier event for the first time in her career.  The WTA have been absolutely selling Bouchard to the max in the last few weeks.  She faces Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round, who she lost too in Sydney earlier this year.  I expect her to come through that one, but for some reason despite a workable draw, I don’t see Bouchard going past the third round.

1st Round Predictions: Kanepi to beat Lepchenko in 2 sets, Barthel to beat Beck in 2 tight sets, Pironkova to beat Vinci in 3 sets, Bouchard to beat Mattek-Sands in 3 sets and Niculescu to beat Al-Nabhani in 2 sets

Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Halep v Pennetta

FOURTH QUARTER: C.Wozniacki (8) v A.Radwanska (2)


Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki, now teamed up with Michael Mortensen, will play her first match since losing in the third round of the Australian Open to Garbine Muguruza.  Her first match of the week will be against Andrea Petkovic or Yanina Wickmayer.  Petko earnt a win over Wozniacki when she was world number one and was in typically gutsy form to beat Cibulkova in Fed Cup action at the weekend.  Caro could meet Sam Stosur in the third round, who exceeded general expectations down under and is someone I believe will have a much better 2014 compared to 2013.  Wozniacki and Stosur have a colourful and intriguing head-to-head, currently tied at 3-3.

Agnieszka Radwanska has a few potential thorns in her section including Sorana Cirstea (second round) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (third round).  Pavs has drawn Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round; the Spaniard has a 0-6 head-to-head record including a loss in Paris.  It really is a completely sucky draw for Carla.  Pavlyuchenkova showed a lot of grittiness in Paris, but there were still lapses in concentration, which cannot be afforded against the very best players.  Another match-up between Pavlyuchenkova and Radwanska would be fun to see…

1st Round Predictions: Petkovic to beat Wickmayer in 2 sets, Stosur to beat Erakovic in 2 sets, Pavlyuchenkova to beat Suarez Navarro in 2 sets and Cirstea to beat Kudryavtseva in 3 sets

Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Stosur v Radwanska


Final Prediction: Radwanska d. Jankovic

This week, I am going for Agnieszka Radwanska.  Why you ask? Well as per usual, I am not really sure! Radwanska has made a solid start to the year and the one worry I have had is the shoulder; however despite playing Fed Cup this weekend, she hasn’t played much tennis lately and that win over Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open shows that she’s on the ball in 2014.  I would be surprised if Li maintained her winning streak, particularly at a tournament she hasn’t played since 2011.

I am looking forward to this week in Doha and as my predictions show, I think there will be some surprises along the way.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the draw in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “WTA Doha: Preview and Predictions

  1. I visited the Pattaya Open event the whole week. Up and coming player likely to get into top 20 in 2014 is K Pliskova. Dynamite serve and when in her ‘grove’ she has unbelievable passing shots.


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