I’ve been thinking about those brilliant matches from Tuesday night all day long. I probably sound like a broken record, but they were so good! I was so gripped by both, each match deserved a special post. The one for Sharapova v Safarova can be found HERE and Jankovic v Barthel is HERE. Thursday will see the remaining six second round matches in Stuttgart with Sara Errani already safely into the quarter-finals. Some of these matches look very intriguing…
1. Jelena Jankovic v Flavia Pennetta (WTA Stuttgart, R2)
In the last of the first round matches, Flavia Pennetta needed three sets to defeat Andrea Petkovic, 7-5 3-6 6-1 in two hours and 10 minutes. For two gruelling sets, there was little to call between the pair, who traded blows in some really physical rallies. In the end, Petkovic appeared to run out of steam as Pennetta raced through the decider. Petkovic only got back from Fed Cup duty in Australia on Monday and must still have been pretty pooped after that epic journey. Pennetta goes on to play Jelena Jankovic in the second round. JJ saved four match points as she defeated Mona Barthel in a thrilling first round match, 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3.
Jankovic leads the head-to-head with Pennetta by 6 wins to 2; their last match came in 2012 when JJ beat Flavia in Dubai, 6-4 6-2. Jankovic has won three of their four clay court encounters although Pennetta won the most recent of those in Stuttgart in 2009. Pennetta finished her match today well, but looked sluggish at times and particularly vulnerable on serve. I keep having to remind myself that she won Indian Wells! Jankovic will be buoyed by still being in the tournament after that early wake up call. I fancy Jelena to take this match.
Prediction: Jankovic d. Pennetta in 2 tight sets
2. Maria Sharapova v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (WTA Stuttgart, R2)
Maria Sharapova was made to word very hard indeed for her spot in the second round of Stuttgart. She fought for three hours and 23 minutes with Lucie Safarova, eventually edging through in three tiebreak sets. Sharapova defeated Safarova in Stuttgart last year on her way to the title so perhaps this was a good omen for her chances in Stuttgart in 2014. The two time champion has never lost at this tournament and has compiled a 9-0 W-L record. Sharapova will now play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who defeated the qualifier, Diana Marcinkevica, 6-3 6-2 in the first round.
Sharapova and Pavlyuchenkova have met twice on the tour with both matches going the distance. In fact, it was Pavs who won their last match at the Paris Indoors event earlier this year, 4-6 6-3 6-4. Pavlyuchenkova is an excellent clay courter; however Sharapova will be hungry for revenge and scrapping to keep her place in the top ten. Advantage Maria…
Prediction: Sharapova d. Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets
WTA Stuttgart 2nd Round Predictions
Agnieszka Radwanska d. Roberta Vinci in 2 tight sets
Angelique Kerber d. Carla Suarez Navarro in 2 sets
Ana Ivanovic d. Julia Goerges in 3 sets
Simona Halep d. Svetlana Kuznetsova in 3 sets
ATP Barcelona 3rd Round Predictions
Rafael Nadal d. Ivan Dodig in 2 sets
Nicolas Almagro d. Fernando Verdasco in 3 sets
Santiago Giraldo d. Dominic Thiem in 3 sets
Philipp Kohlschreiber d. Jurgen Melzer in 2 very tight sets
Tommy Robredo d. Marin Cilic in 3 sets
Kei Nishikori d. Andrey Golubev in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Ernests Gulbis d. Albert Montanes in 2 sets
Teymuraz Gabashvili d. Inigo Cervantes in 3 sets