Let’s rant… Overlapping tournaments seriously bug me. The fourth and final Premier Mandatory event in Beijing will begin on Saturday BEFORE the final of this week’s tournament in Wuhan takes place. Perhaps it’s my OCD but I find it frustrating that there aren’t clear definitions between weeks and it’s a pain for writing a preview too! Here’s a few quick takes on the draw.
First quarter – Halep (1) v Muguruza (5)
- Uncertainty around Simona – I’ve been surprised that Halep has gone all in on this Asian Swing as she plays her third consecutive week. It doesn’t quite go with her year where she hasn’t overplayed and chosen tournaments rather selectively. The loss against Johanna Konta in Wuhan was a bit of a shocker and it will be interesting to see if there any ramifications from that. Her first match will be against Alizé Cornet or a qualifier.
- Memories for Schmieds – Anna Karolina Schmiedlova is having a superb run but she faces a blast from the past in her first round match in Beijing as she takes on Alison Van Uytvanck. In an interview on the WTA Insider page, Schmiedlova said that the loss to Van Uytvanck at the French Open was her toughest loss of the year. She missed a whopping 11 set points in the second set in a 7-6(4) 7-6(7) loss. Furthermore, she was in a dreamy section of the draw in which Van Uytvanck grabbed her opportunity to reach the quarter-finals. AVU snapped a six match losing streak in Seoul to reach the semi-finals but i’d back Schmieds to overturn that Roland Garros loss.
- Chances for BB – It’s hard to see Muguruza backing up her run in Wuhan, particularly with the ankle injury. This could open up this section with the likes of Belinda Bencic and Daria Gavrilova present. BB has been awesome since the start of the grass court season and after falling reasonably early in Wuhan, i’d fancy another deep run in Beijing.
Second Quarter – Radwanska (4) v Wozniacki (8)
- Aga, Caro and Angie in the same quarter – The second quarter features the three aforementioned players. Kerber, with the bye, plays the winner of Dominika Cibulkova or Jelena Jankovic, which should be a fun first rounder. Wozniacki gets a qualifer in the first round, and then potentially Varvara Lepchenko who she lost to in Stanford at the start of the summer hard court season.
A case of déjà vu – This quarter features so many matches that we’ve seen recently and it could yield even more in the second round with Kerber-Jankovic and Wozniacki-Lepchenko. In the first round, Radwanska plays CoCo Vandeweghe for the third time this year. The pair played in the first rounds of New Haven and Tokyo with Radwanska prevailing in straight sets. Their first match-up was in Beijing last year with Radwanska also winning in two. For the second straight week, we will also see Kristina Mladenovic up against Madison Keys. Mladenovic won last week in Wuhan, 7-5 1-6 6-2… with the nature of their games, there is little to call between the pair so naturally with the WTA, i’m going for the opposite result.
Third Quarter – Ivanovic (6) v Pennetta (3)
- Laughter – This section is a hoot because I could see four or five in the players in the semi-finals but I just can’t make my mind up because so many of the early match-ups are 50/50. Ana Ivanovic plays Casey Dellacqua in the first round and could then play Venus Williams (who has a first round bye) in the second round. I don’t think Venus will be ready to compete in Beijing. The fun starts slightly lower down with Karolina Pliskova against Sloane Stephens, Svetlana Kuznetsova against Carina Witthoeft and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova against Julia Goerges… All three matches could go either way in my opinion. I find myself tentatively plumping for Pliskova but her energy levels concern me.
- Pennetta is the number THREE seed – I can’t get over Flavia being the number three seed. This will be her first tournament since the US Open and while motivation may be there with Singapore a distinct opportunity, I don’t hold high hopes, particularly when she has struggled for much of the year. Her draw is extremely favourable to the third round with Xinyun Han in the first round and then either Teliana Pereira or Alexandra Dulgheru in the second round. Perhaps it’s my state of deliriousness but I could see Dulgheru upsetting Pennetta. It’s hard to know where her mind will be particularly as i’ve seen Twitter pics of her canoodling with Fabio just in the last few days.
Fourth Quarter – Suárez Navarro (7) v Kvitova (2)
- Not convinced by Carla – While the Spaniard has a good win over Monica Niculescu in Beijing, Carla’s recent form has been disappointing. There’s a distinct lack of confidence in her tennis right now and Lesia Tsurenko in the first round could be a really tough opener.
- The return of Timea – I’m chuffed to see Bacsinszky back on the tour after skipping Wuhan. After such a strong first half of the year, Bacsinszky is seeking her first win since Wimbledon and is on a five match losing streak. Playing Camila Giorgi is not the most ideal match although at her best, I think it’s a good match-up for Timea. I’d have to give the edge to Giorgi in the hope that reverse psychology comes into play and Timea finds a way to win 😉
- First round fun – Watching the first rounders come through on Twitter, my eyes were popping out with the quality of them even with all the withdrawals. Andrea Petkovic against Eugenie Bouchard and Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani are both match-ups you’d expect to see in the second week of a Slam. Bouchard’s obviously been struggling lately and more so healthwise since the US Open. Despite some disappointing performances in Asia, i’d still go for Petkovic. Errani’s had some decent results of late but it would still be a surprise if she could topple Petra on the fast courts of Beijing.
Here’s my draw. I’m still laughing at some of the choices… It was looking crazier but i’ve scaled it back. I did have Pavs to the quarters but that always ends in tears. I’m going for a Kvitova over Bencic final. This is a good draw for Petra but i’m still worried about her health and the Mono. Still, i’ve taken the gamble as she’s one of the most capable players for sweeping through a draw. I’ll fill in the gaps when qualifiers are set.
Beijing main draw starts on SATURDAY. I’ll try and catch up once Wuhan’s done but I have to admit i’m feeling the end-of-season vibes with all these retirements and injuries. We’re nearly there for 2015….