WTA Miami, 1st Round Previews: Zvonareva v Pavluychenkova, Hantuchova v Bencic and more

1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Vera Zvonareva (Miami, R1)

Zvonareva The last time that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Vera Zvonareva played each other on the WTA tour was in the last 16 of Roland Garros in 2011 where Pavlyuchenkova prevailed in a tight three setter to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.  Since then, both players have had their fair share of misery.  Zvonareva has spent the majority of the last two years on the sidelines having undergone shoulder surgery.  She has had some good results this year considering her lengthy absence from the tour; however her performance in Indian Wells last week was one of the weakest performances i’ve seen from a tennis player this year.  Zvonareva was beaten by Polona Hercog, 6-1 6-1 committing error after error in a really bad day at the office.  Pavlyuchenkova has been stuttering of late and has not been able to consistently beat players below her in the rankings.  Her baseline game has the potential to propel her into the top ten, but a mixture of serving yips and lapses in concentration have seen her fall outside of the world’s top 30.  Something tells me this could be a scrappy affair! Based on that last performance, this will require a substantial mental effort from Zvonareva to win this one.

Prediction: Pavlyuchenkova d. Zvonareva in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

2. Daniela Hantuchova v Belinda Bencic (Miami, R1)

HantuchovaBelinda Bencic had a good run in the desert last week with two victories, including a straight sets upset of Caroline Wozniacki.  It was a notable win given that their last match in Istanbul had ended with Bencic unable to win one game.  Bencic lost to the eventual finalist in Indian Wells, Jelena Jankovic in an entertaining fourth round match.  All in all, it was a very positive week for Belinda, who restored some of the confidence that had been missing through the first two months of the season.  Bencic has just missed out on a seeding for Miami and will play Daniela Hantuchova in the first round.  The Slovak has enjoyed a reasonable start to the season, winning Pattaya City and prevailing in a fair share of tight three setters.  However, she lost in the first round of Indian Wells to Klara Koukalova.  I remember the only previous meeting between Hantuchova and Bencic, which took place on the grass courts of Birmingham (see match recap HERE).  On that day, it was a superb performance from Hantuchova and highlighted one of the weaknesses of Bencic in that she can get blown off the court against an in-form and aggressive opponent.  On a slower court surface and with rejuvenated confidence, i’d fancy Belinda to win this match.

Prediction: Bencic d. Hantuchova in 2 tight sets

3. Yanina Wickmayer v Sloane Stephens (Miami, R1)

Wickmayer 1In a first career match-up between two of most competent unseeded players, Yanina Wickmayer and Sloane Stephens will play in Miami.  Stephens remains an unpredictable player in terms of her results over the past year, but she was much improved in Indian Wells where she scored respectable wins over Angelique Kerber and Svetlana Kuznetsova, before falling in three sets to Serena Williams in the last 16.  Wickmayer has made a promising start to the year.  She had a tough draw in the desert last week where she was beaten by Maria Sharapova in the second round.  Sloane has the more dynamic strokes, but Wickmayer has the better application and focus on court.  Based on her performances in the desert, Stephens would be my hunch for this match.  As much as I like Wickmayer, the prospect of a second rounder between Stephens and fellow American, Madison Keys, would be very tempting…

Prediction: Stephens d. Wickmayer in 3 sets

WTA Indian Wells 1st round predictions

Monica Niculescu d. Shelby Rogers in 2 sets

Indy de Vroome d. Cici Bellis in 3 sets

Alison Riske d. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in 2 sets

Julia Goerges d. Jana Cepelova in 2 sets

Victoria Azarenka d. Silvia Soler-Espinosa in 2 sets

Yaroslava Shvedova d. Johanna Larsson in 3 sets

Polona Hercog d. Anna Schmiedlova in 2 sets

Kaia Kanepi d. Francoise Abanda in 3 sets

Madison Brengle d. Aleksandra Krunic in 2 sets

Katerina Siniakova d. Karin Knapp in 2 tight sets

Mona Barthel d. Bojana Jovanovski in 2 sets

Kristina Mladenovic d. Klara Koukalova in 2 sets

Christina McHale d. Sorana Cirstea in 3 sets

Kurumi Nara d. Ajla Tomljanovic in 3 sets

12 thoughts on “WTA Miami, 1st Round Previews: Zvonareva v Pavluychenkova, Hantuchova v Bencic and more

    • Just have noticed since last year many favorites (big ones) picked by her to win in 2 sets stc. seemed to go oppposite many of the times and get creamed.. Many of the times the lower ranked winner in the 100s and higher.. Maybe she is just not up on the up and coming players and just goes with the favorite.. As we know expecailly in womens tennis you need to be folowing the and studying even the players ranked in the up 100’s.. Granted that is tough at times, but this has just been pretty consistant that I have seen with always just going with the better ranked player(ecpecially in early rounds) much of the time.. Got to take more chances to win your pool imo… ;)..

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      • I get what you’re saying, but there is usually a reason the higher ranked player is ranked higher and that has to take count in deciding a winner in matches.

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      • Agreed sometimes.. Just think we need a better handle on the up and coming players.. I mean they are CRUSHING higer ranked players like 2-0 not even close in the sets and its happening more and more often.. More parity a gather these days also.. But need to take that into consideration..

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    • Maybe on this site have a page (button) for up and comers in the WTA. Where people can just post about who looks great coming up the food chain.. With the ocassional article on some of them.. Just a thought..

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      • Be kida cool to look back 3 years later see and say look i called that player making it for like 6 months.. I remeber I really liked C. Gorgi when she was a nobody. Ranked in the 500’s and looking for money to get sponsered nad so she can travel and have room and board at these events..Then the scandle happened and hopefully they have paid most of them back by now as she is doing really well and looking to just get better.. Anyway seeing and calling out ones like that fely very cool… 😉

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