I am really enjoying all the coverage this week from Doha, Rotterdam and Memphis. I happened to catch the end of Marinko Matosevic against Jiri Vesely in Memphis where Vesely came through, 6-3 6-2 to win just his second ATP tour match. Early on in the second set, Matosevic was heard on the court microphone saying “what’s the point”. Sloane Stephens can also be added to the list of “could do better” in the attitude department. Sloane put in a subdued and petulant display in Doha as she lost in the first round to Petra Cetkovska.
Doha Poll: For Doha, the general voting shows that there is no clear favourite amongst readers of Moo’s Tennis Blog. Li topped the poll with 23% although Radwanska was close behind. I am starting to learn that I need to include Ana Ivanovic in my polls as she picked up a fair few votes. It was also lovely to see the resident joker make the effort to vote for Fatma Al Nabhani!
Rotterdam Poll: Murray was the clear favourite with Moo’s Tennis Blog readers picking up 42% of the votes followed by Tsonga (21%) and Del Potro (12%). I have had a pretty awful week of predictions last week so I am hoping I can get at least one ATP winner correct this week from the three tournaments!
1. Petra Kvitova v Venus Williams (Doha, R2)
On a day when all 16 second round matches will be played in Doha, the match of the day is 2nd up on Centre Court as Petra Kvitova will take on Venus Williams in a potential blockbuster clash. Before Doha, both had had four weeks off after a first round exit at the Australian Open. Venus was in action on Monday with an assured and confident display to knock out Petra Martic, 6-2 6-2. Kvitova was due to play in Paris, but had to pull out due to illness. This will be a very tough first match for Petra because Venus has demonstrated not only in her first round match in Doha, but through her general level in 2014, that she remains a tough competitor to get past.
Venus reached the final in Auckland in the first week and was unlucky to draw the Bourne-GOAT, Ekaterina Makarova in the first round of the Australian Open, eventually going down in three tight sets. Of their three previous encounters, all of them have gone the distance. Kvitova won their last match in Tokyo, but barely, having to summon some of her finest tennis from 2013 to see off a determined effort from Venus. Venus has been vulnerable in tight three set matches, but I think she stands a very solid chance of beating Kvitova in this match-up.
Prediction: Venus to beat Kvitova in 2 tight sets
2. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Marin Cilic (ATP Rotterdam, R2)
First round matches still take up the majority of Rotterdam’s schedule on Wednesday. The night session features the first second round match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic. On Monday night, Tsonga fought past Florian Mayer in 3 sets, 4-6 6-3 6-1 in a match that featured some superb shotmaking at times. Tsonga struggled on return for much of the first and second sets, but improved significantly in the third set as Mayer’s level tailed off. Cilic, who won the title in Zagreb last week, began in superb form with a comfortable 6-2 6-2 victory over Lukas Rosol. The huge Croatian has really started to find his feet after an inconsistent start to the season down under. Cilic leads the head-to-head by 2 wins to 1 with a victory in Miami, 7-5 7-6(4) last year. Cilic has the form, but Tsonga certainly improved during his first round match. I anticipate Cilic will come out swinging and if Tsonga can stay with with him, then I think the Frenchman can sneak out a win in three.
Prediction: Tsonga to beat Cilic in 3 sets
WTA Doha 2nd Round Predictions
Li Na to beat Magdalena Rybarikova in 2 sets
Petra Cetkovska to beat Zhang Shuai in 3 sets
Ana Ivanovic to beat Klara Zakopalova in 2 sets
Angelique Kerber to beat Karoline Pliskova in 2 tight sets
Lucie Safarova to beat Peng Shuai in 3 sets
Stefanie Voegele to beat Alisa Kleybanova in 2 tight sets
Jelena Jankovic to beat Karin Knapp in 3 sets
Simona Halep to beat Kaia Kanepi in 3 sets (50/50 with this one!)
Tsvetana Pironkova to beat Annika Beck in 2 tight sets
Monica Niculescu to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands in 3 sets
Sara Errani to beat Su-Wei Hsieh in 2 sets
Caroline Wozniacki to beat Yanina Wickmayer in 2 sets
Sam Stosur to beat Jana Cepelova in 2 sets
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to beat Mirjana Lucic-Barolin in 2 sets
Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Sorana Cirstea in 2 tight sets