1. Caroline Wozniacki v Agnieszka Radwanska (Madrid, R3)
For the 12th time, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska will meet on the WTA tour in third round action in Madrid. Excluding the WTA Championships, this will be the earliest the pair have played each other in a tournament with all of their previous matches taking place in the quarters or semis. Both players haven’t dropped a set through two matches in Madrid. Wozniacki has scored second set bagels in victories over Jarmila Gajdosova (6-3 6-0) and Christina McHale (7-5 6-0). Wozniacki was a break down to McHale, but got back on level terms after a lengthy deuce game that took about an hour… well that’s what it felt like. McHale drifted away from the match and finished with a whopping 43 unforced errors.
Radwanska hasn’t dropped more than four games in any of the sets she has played with victories over Lara Arruabarrena and Casey Dellacqua. This is Radwanska’s first tournament since she parted ways with Martina Navratilova. It will be interesting to see whether a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. These two wins were both routine, but even in her recent form, I think they are matches she would have won comfortably. Wozniacki leads the head-to-head with Radwanska, 7-4. and has won their last two matches in straight sets in Cincy (6-4 7-6, 2014) and Singapore (7-5 6-3, 2014). Neither player has enjoyed their best results on clay although Wozniacki has began this clay court season with some intent after reaching the final in Stuttgart. Radwanska will go in as the underdog and that may give her the chance to relax I’m going for Caro though…
Prediction: Wozniacki d. Radwanska in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
2. Svetlana Kuznetsova v Sam Stosur (Madrid, R3)
In an all unseeded third rounder, Sam Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova will both be vying for a first quarter-final in 2015. On Monday, Stosur secured back-to-back wins for the first time in 2015. Victories over Angelique Kerber (4-6 6-3 6-3) and Kaia Kanepi (6-4 6-3) were both impressive considering Stosur had lost the last time she had played both players. Many of Stosur’s best career results have come on clay. Her three losses last year on this surface came against Maria Sharapova (X2) and Na Li. Equally, Kuznetsova always comes alive during this time of the year and her best result in 2014 came at Roland Garros where she reached the quarter-finals.
In a first career match-up, Kuznetsova edged Garbine Muguruza on Monday, 6-3 5-7 7-5 in two hours and 32 minutes. Kuznetsova led for much of the match and was the better player, utilising her excellent defensive skills on this surface. However, Svetlana and leads are not a match made in heaven. She was a break up in the final two sets; Muguruza zoned in towards the end of the second set and it looked like that was happening in the third set too. However, a string of errors from Muguruza including a missed volley and a double fault saw Kuznetsova break to love at 5-5 and then rather miraculously, serve out the match. It was a disappointing performance from Muguruza who has a 4-6 W-L record since the Australian Open.
Kuznetsova and Stosur have played each other seven times with Stosur leading 4-3. Stosur has won their last three matches in Moscow (6-2 6-4, 2013), Cincy (6-1 7-5, 2013) and Doha (6-4 7-5, 2013) while Kuznetsova won their only encounter on clay, which took place in the semi-finals of Roland Garros in 2009. Both have endured pretty miserable years so far with just 14 wins combined (of which over a quarter have come in Madrid!). Stosur’s first two matches both weren’t streamed so it’s hard to gauge her performances. The results were both mightily impressive. Not with a great deal of rationale, i’m picking Stosur to prevail.
Prediction: Stosur d. Kuznetsova in 3 sets