First round action in Doha concluded on Tuesday with Alexandra Dulgheru’s victory over Alize Cornet in three sets, 6-4 3-6 6-1. Two of the Dubai semi-finalists had contrasting fortunes on Tuesday. Garbine Muguruza was forced to retire from her first round match against Carla Suarez Navarro due to a viral illness. She had served for the first set at *5-3. However, Karolina Pliskova just keeps on rolling… the Czech player won her 18th match of the year with a straight sets victory over Stefanie Voegele.
1. Lucie Safarova v Ekaterina Makarova (Doha, R2)
In a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon quarter-final, Ekaterina Makarova and Lucie Safarova will meet in the second round of Doha. Makarova had a bye into the second round, while Safarova progressed with a straight sets win over Sam Stosur, 7-6(3) 6-4. It was Lucie’s tenth win over Sam although she had lost their most recent encounter in Sydney at the start of the year. For a full recap of the match click HERE. Lucie leads the head-to-head 2-1 and won their last encounter at Wimbledon, 6-3 6-1 with one of her best ever performances in the biggest match of her career. Both players have become much more consistent in the last year or two, but especially Makarova. The Russian player continues to float under the radar, but her results on the big stage over the last year have been superb with back-to-back Grand Slam semi-final appearances. This match feels like a 50/50 one to me and both are capable of winning the match. The extra match on these courts should go in Lucie’s favour…
Prediction: Safarova d. Makarova in 3 sets
2. Agnieszka Radwanska v Flavia Pennetta (Doha, R2)
Flavia Pennetta will be seeking her third consecutive win against Agnieszka Radwanska when the pair play each other on Tuesday. Pennetta came from a set down and battled through a thigh injury to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova, 3-6 6-4 6-2 in the first main draw match from Doha. The Italian player was superb in the second and third sets with her backhand really stealing the show. For a full recap of the match click HERE. Pennetta won both their matches in 2014 although the second of those came in a disappointing Indian Wells final where Radwanska was clearly hampered by an injury. As that tournament looms, this is an important time for Pennetta to pick up wins and more importantly, confidence to try and save as many of those champion points as possible! I keep having to remind myself that Pennetta won Indian Wells last year. Radwanska’s form has been patchy at best, but i’d fancy her consistency on this slow hard court to win through against Pennetta. The thigh injury didn’t seem to affect Pennetta against Kuznetsova, but it could still be an issue if this becomes a physical encounter.
Prediction: Radwanska d. Pennetta in 3 sets
WTA Doha 2nd Round Predictions
Petra Kvitova d. Jelena Jankovic in 3 sets
Carla Suarez Navarro d. Karolina Pliskova in 2 sets
Andrea Petkovic d. Zarina Diyas in 3 sets
Caroline Wozniacki d. Alexandra Dulgheru in 2 sets
Victoria Azarenka d. Elina Svitolina in 2 tight sets