Quarter-finals day in Beijing was hit with another walkover as unsurprisingly, Serena Williams was forced to pull out of Beijing before her quarter-final match with Sam Stosur was set to begin. Courtney Nguyen tweeted last night that Serena had not held a press match conference to treat swelling of her knee. Fingers crossed that Serena will be fully fit to compete in Singapore. The line-up is great but there will be concerns about the health of Serena and Simona too. Beijing semi-finals look enticing, i’d love to know your thoughts on Sharapova v Ivanovic!
Poll Results: 87% correctly predicted that Kvitova would beat Vinci and 74% correctly predicted that Sharapova would beat Kuznetsova
1. Maria Sharapova v Ana Ivanovic (WTA Beijing, SF)
A much anticipated match-up between Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic will have the star billing in Beijing on Saturday. In one of the most dramatic and entertaining WTA matches of 2014, Ivanovic saved match points to defeat Sharapova in the semi-finals of Cincy earlier this year, 6-2 5-7 7-5. The big talking point from this match was when Ivanovic took a MTO during a game, which angered Sharapova. It was great entertainment, but personally, it wasn’t a match that I particularly enjoyed and I don’t think either player came out of it favourably.
Sharapova hasn’t dropped a set this week and has looked much sharper this week, defeating Kaia Kanepi, Elina Svitolina, Carla Suarez Navarro and Svetlana Kuznetsova. It was the second time in two weeks that Sharapova beat Kuznetsova and on this occasion, it was much more straightforward, 6-0 6-4 although Sharapova did have to come from a break down in the second set. Ivanovic got a walkover from Simona Halep in the quarter-finals. Wins over Belinda Bencic, Romina Oprandi and Sabine Lisicki were enough to book her place in the last four. Ivanovic leads the way with 55 match wins in 2014… who could have predicted that at the start of this year?!
This will be a fascinating match tennis-wise although much of the attention will probably be focused on the handshake. In the last two tournaments, Ivanovic has become much more vocal again. If she continues to “ajde” after every point, this will be interesting! I felt that in their last match-up, Ivanovic got into Sharapova’s head a little. It’s not something that happens often, but she definitely riled the Russian player, who will be eager and motivated to gain revenge. Originally, I went for Ivanovic, but Sharapova’s playing much better this week and it’s hard to imagine she will let this one go without a fight. I’m torn…
Prediction: Sharapova d. Ivanovic in 3 sets
2. Petra Kvitova v Sam Stosur (WTA Beijing, SF)
Petra Kvitova secured another straight sets win on Friday as she defeated Roberta Vinci, 7-6(2) 6-4. The scoreline masked that this was a struggle; Kvitova trailed 1-5 in the first set and was a break down in the second set too. It took the Czech player a while to find her rhythm, which she found towards the end of the first set. Vinci served for the first set twice, but was unable to close it out. I felt bad for the Italian player, who has had a great week and desperately needed a big win like this for her confidence. Kvitova continues her winning streak, having won Wuhan last week and will play Sam Stosur in the semi-finals.
Stosur benefited from a walkover in the quarters, but has had some great results this week. A first top ten win in 2014 against Caroline Wozniacki, where she saved a string of set points in the second set tiebreak, was an encouraging result. The most impressive thing she has done this week was being able to back up that win. She recovered from an early break down in the first set to defeat Alize Cornet in straight sets. Kvitova won their last match in New Haven very comfortably, 6-3 6-1. Petra has won six of their seven encounters with Stosur prevailing on clay in Rome last year. Tiredness could be a factor, but I do think Petra will be good value for the win.
Prediction: Kvitova d. Stosur in 2 sets
ATP Beijing Semi-Final Predictions
Novak Djokovic d. Andy Murray in 3 sets
Tomas Berdych d. Martin Klizan in 2 sets
ATP Tokyo Semi-Final Predictions
Milos Raonic d. Gilles Simon in 3 sets
Kei Nishikori d. Benny Becker in 2 sets