Dubai and Doha have switched this year in the calendar and will continue to do so over the coming years with Dubai being upgraded to a Premier 5 tournament for 2015. Personally, I much prefer Dubai to Doha and the court surface is normally much faster. The draw was hit with two late withdrawals of Serena Williams (illness) and Eugenie Bouchard (arm injury). Seven of the world’s top ten are in Dubai and without Serena and Maria, the draw is wide open. The overlap of Antwerp and Dubai has resulted in a very messy draw with two players yet to be assigned. Two performance byes will be given to the two finalists in Antwerp. Dubai main draw starts on SUNDAY so let’s get cracking with this draw!
The loss of Serena Williams from the draw has seen Simona Halep bumped up to the number one seed in Dubai. Halep seemed to be gathering pace in Melbourne before falling to Ekaterina Makarova in the quarter-finals in a surprising straight sets loss, 6-4 6-0. Halep is seeded to meet Makarova again in the quarter-finals of Dubai. Halep’s tournament will start in the second round against the winner of a first round match between Mona Barthel and Daniela Hantuchova; both had solid weeks in Antwerp and Pattaya with Barthel beating Eugenie Bouchard and Hantuchova reaching the final respectively. The first seed that Halep could meet is Peng Shuai. Makarova’s positon as a top eight seed at a tournament of this calibre is a testament to how far she has come along in the last year having reached at least quarter-finals of the last three Grand Slams. Her section looks pretty light with first potential seed, Andrea Petkovic having played some tough matches in Fed Cup / Antwerp over the last week… therefore, a Halep v Makarova quarter-final is the most likely outcome from this quarter.
Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber head up the second quarter. Wozniacki hasn’t played since losing in the second round of the Australian Open to Victoria Azarenka. She should be refreshed but equally, may need some matches to find her rhythm. Her first match of the week will be against Sam Stosur or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Stosur’s form hasn’t been anything special of late, but she has always been a difficult opponent for Caro. The pair have a very competitive head-to-head which is tied at 4-4. Stosur won their last match in Beijing at the end of 2014, 6-4 7-6(9). Last year’s finalist in Dubai, Alize Cornet could meet Wozniacki in the third round. Cornet plays Kirsten Flipkens in the first round, who she defeated three times last year including in Dubai. Flipkens has won just one match this year so i’d definitely take Cornet going forward.
Kerber suffered a puzzling 6-1 6-1 loss to Francesca Schiavone in Antwerp. This may have been a comedown from a mentally taxing weekend in Fed Cup action. Her first match of the week in Dubai will be against the winner of one of the better looking first rounders between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kaia Kanepi. Attempting to separate Kuznetsova and Kanepi is challenging and it’s likely to be a hilarious mess of a match. However both players have beaten Kerber in the past and the winner is likely to be a handful for the German player.
This is my favourite of the four quarters. The defending champion, Venus Williams has bagged the last of the top eight seeds and will play either Belinda Bencic or Karin Knapp in the second round. Knapp beat Bencic last year in Cincy qualifying and the 17-year-old is yet to pick up a WTA main draw win in 2015. Venus could meet Lucie Safarova in the third round. Lucie will open against Monica Puig and has been spared a potential second round match against Karolina Pliskova due to Dominika Cibulkova‘s withdrawal from the tournament.
Ana Ivanovic makes her return after a first round exit at the Australian Open to Lucie Hradecka. Ivanovic later revealed that she had played the tournament with a broken toe. Her first match of the week will be against Sabine Lisicki or Monica Niculescu. Lisicki is yet to win a match in 2015 and will need to play smart to overcome the very tricky Niculescu. Lisicki beat Niculescu in Hong Kong last year, but has felt the wrath of Niculescu’s unorthodox game before, losing three of their five previous encounters. Ivanovic is seeded to meet Karolina Pliskova in the third round. If her semi-final performance in Antwerp is anything to go by, this is going to be a very tough turnaround for Pliskova with her first match set to be on Monday. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova is a potential second round opponent for Pliskova.
Petra Kvitova is the number two seed in Dubai and opens against the winner of what is sure to be a feisty first rounder between Elina Svitolina or Coco Vandeweghe. Kvitova is projected to meet Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round, who beat her at this tournament last year. It was one of those “ohhhhh Petraaaa” moments as she failed to hold onto a set and a break lead before succumbing in three sets. Agnieszka Radwanska is the other top eight seed. After falling to Venus Williams at the Australian Open, Radwanska lost both of her matches in Fed Cup action to Kuznetsova and Sharapova. She faces a testing draw in Dubai with Caroline Garcia and Garbine Muguruza in her path, both players who she has lost too in the last six months. Jelena Jankovic is also worth a mention as she could face Muguruza in the second round if both win their first rounders against qualifiers. Muguruza has drawn the toughest of the qualifiers, Jarmila Gajdosova… that could be a humdinger of a first round match.
1st Round Predictions: Barthel d. Hantuchova in 2 sets, Pironkova d. Koukalova in 3 sets, Beck d. Diyas in 3 sets, Stosur d. Lucic-Baroni in 2 tight sets, Cornet d. Flipkens in 2 sets, Pennetta d. Goerges in 3 sets, Kuznetsova d. Kanepi in 3 wacky sets, Bencic d. Knapp in 2 sets, Safarova d. Puig in 3 sets, Lisicki d. Niculescu in 3 sets, Muguruza d. Gajdosova in 2 tight sets, Giorgi d. Zvonareva in 3 sets and Svitolina d. Vandeweghe in 3 sets
Quarter-Final Predictions: Halep v Makarova, Wozniacki v Pennetta, V.Williams v Ivanovic and Muguruza v Kvitova
Final Prediction: Kvitova d. Wozniacki
13 thoughts on “WTA Dubai 2015: Preview and Predictions”
Go, Simona! A defeat of Makarova in the QF and then winning the title would be a very nice way to put Melbourne behind you!
This is a very tough tournament to call. Anybody can win it. I went for Halep d Muguruza but I won’t be suprised Muguruza loses early. There is no clear indication to who is the favourite.
I was really close to having Muguruza in the final, but I bottled it at the last minute. I think drawing Gajdosova in the first round was the clincher. I expect her to win that match, but it will be a tricky one because Jarmila has been playing great.
Venus will win, she performs well here. Halep is not that great in tournament with top players . She got to the top by playing tournaments with players ranking 60 and below. Halep will lose early, she will not win.
Venus might win and Halep might lose early! But to say Halep only does well in small events is actualy ridiculous! In case you forgot she won Doha last year and played in the final of RG and wta finals, where if I remember correctly all the top players play!
+1… Halep has proven herself in big tournaments over the last year.
LOL!!! You do realise that in 2014 she was 7-2 against Top 10 players not named Serena or Maria, and 7-1 against players ranked 11 to 20, right? Hardly supports your theory which is way off the mark.
I was never Halep’s biggest supporter (still am not, really), but she definitely did hold her own against the other top ten players in 2014. The only glaring fault there was against Sharapova. And Ivanovic beat Halep twice too, if you count her Fed Cup match.
Jade, Sorry totally disagree. Halep a greet player and will only get better and win more.
I think Halep will win this one. Ana Ivanovic is my darkhorse, but she has such a tough draw and that often intimidates her.
Halep leading the poll seriously? I agree with you but I have Wiz beating Kvitova in the finals.
Top seed … why not?
(I have Halep beating Wiz then Kvitova in the final. 😉 )
Mine is pure feeling.
The courts in Dubai are actually better suited to the big hitting players like Venus, Pliskova, Kvitova and Ivanovic. I think it was Federer who called it the ‘first strike place’… so it could prove a little too fast for Halep. I just think that with her kind draw and ability to dispatch lower ranked players quickly and efficiently, she should make a deep run with ease. Meanwhile the four big hitters I listed have to chop through each other, plus several other deadly players…