In this rather quiet tennis week, i’ve been trying to finalise my tennis plans for the summer! Tickets for Queens and Nottingham are both out now on general sale, and Birmingham and Eastbourne are out next week. I’m definitely heading down to Eastbourne for three days, but I can’t decide about the other events. Back to this week and the first day of main draw action was completely wiped out by the weather in Monterrey so Tuesday has a bumper schedule. The first batch of second round matches in Kuala Lumpur will be played on Wednesday.
1. Julia Goerges v Kateryna Kozlova (Kuala Lumpur, R2)
The pick of the second round matches in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday will see the number eight seed, Julia Goerges take on the world number 107, Kateryna Kozlova. This is the first time i’ve ever written about Kozlova, but her recent results have warranted attention. Before 2015, Kozlova has done very little of note on the WTA tour. The 21-year-old from Ukraine played her first main draw in 2013 in Baku. Kozlova came close to qualifying for her first Grand Slam main draw last year, but lost in the final round of qualifying at both Wimbledon and French Open. However, she may get a shot at direct entry for the French Open by virtue of her results so far this year. Kozlova has entered qualifying for four WTA tournaments in 2015 and successfully qualified for two in Hobart and Dubai. She also managed to win a round at both, beating top 50 players in Kirsten Flipkens and Heather Watson. She has secured eight top 100 wins in 2015; to put that into context, Kozlova had only two top 100 wins to her name before 2015 with just one in 2014 against the world number 94, Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Moscow last year.
I have to admit i’ve never watched Kozlova play, but form would suggest she could be a handful for Goerges. The German player has made a bright start to the year with a quarter-final appearance in Auckland and a last 16 showing in Melbourne. Goerges thrashed Belinda Bencic in the first round of the Australian Open before backing it up with wins over Klara Koukalova and Lucie Hradecka. Goerges carried that good form into Dubai where she came won through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw. However, Goerges had a heartbreaker in the first round as she was unable to capitalise on a commanding leading against Flavia Pennetta and missed four match points. The Italian player prevailed, 2-6 7-6(3) 6-4 although to her credit, Goerges didn’t fold like a cheap tent in the decider.
In the first round of Kuala Lumpur, both players won in straight sets; Kozlova beat Saisai Zheng, 6-3 6-4, while Goerges defeated Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-1 7-6(2). I’m hoping to watch Kozlova in action in the next few months. For this one, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her prevail, but i’d take Goerges to reach the quarter-finals. Julia’s results have much been much more consistent so far in 2015 compared to the last couple of years and the first round win in KL should have helped to soften the blow of that match against Pennetta.
Prediction: Goerges d. Kozlova in 3 sets
WTA Kuala Lumpur 2nd Round Predictions
Jarmila Gajdosova d. Luksika Kumkhum in 2 sets
Kurumi Nara d. Magda Linette in 2 sets
Alexandra Dulgheru d. Ying-Ying Duan in 3 sets
Elizaveta Kulichkova d. Yulia Putintseva in 3 sets
Poll results: In the pre-tournament polls, 58% of readers picked Wozniacki to win Kuala Lumpur. She was followed in popularity by Lisicki (13%), Gajdosova (10%) and Goerges (5%). There was even a vote for Kozlova. For Monterrey it was equally one-sided with 53% picking Ivanovic. She was followed by Bacsinszky (12%), Errani (7%), Garcia (7%), Pavlyuchenkova (7%) and Hantuchova (7%). Nicole Vaidisova also got a few votes and she HAS qualified for the main draw!