WTA Singapore, Day 5 Preview: Maria Sharapova v Flavia Pennetta

PennettaThe final match from the red group features the number three seed, Maria Sharapova up against the number seven seed, Flavia Pennetta. Sharapova, who is undefeated in Singapore this year, will be looking to level up the head-to-head with Pennetta who currently leads it, 3-2. The state of the group and who could qualify is as follows…

There is only one possible scenario where Sharapova does not qualify which is if she loses in straight sets to Pennetta and Halep beats Radwanska in straight sets. To be safe, Sharapova needs a set. A straight sets win for Pennetta will secure her place in the semi-finals. However if she wins in three, it’s a 50-50 scenario as she will need to rely on Radwanska beating Halep.

Pennetta produced her best display since winning the US Open, beating Agnieszka Radwanska in two tight sets, 7-6(5) 6-4. After another sluggish start Pennetta came through with flying colours, hitting a whopping 37 winners to 23 unforced errors to prevail in one hour and 39 minutes. Watching the match back, I don’t remember so many winners from Pennetta but that backhand down-the-line was glooooorious. The Italian player peaked when it mattered, breaking Radwanska when she served for the first set and then sealing the first set in the tiebreak. Pennetta played a wonderful return game at 3-3 in the second set, breaking on a return winner down-the-line and then secured the win with… you guessed it, a backhand down-the-line!

Sharapova enjoyed her sixth consecutive victory over Simona Halep with a terrific display, toughing out a lengthy straight setter, 6-4 6-4. The first set had some superb rallies but also some scrappy play too. Sharapova committed a lot of unforced errors but her continued positivity was more than enough against a predominantly passive Halep. The best point from the first set which is linked below.

Sharapova continued to impress in the second set, hitting cleanly and accurately, and more importantly, staying patient in the rallies. Like her first match against Radwanska, she crumbled a little trying to serve out the match, twice failing at *5-1 and *5-3. Sharapova though, delivered a killer return game, twice winning points by pulling Halep out wide on the backhand side before unleashing a backhand into the corner on match point. There was plenty of uncertainty surrounding Sharapova pre-tournament considering she hadn’t played since Wimbledon but her gritty mentality and quality has shone through. Three months out is a long time and I admit I didn’t expect her to reach the semi-finals. Where she may have an edge over some players is that she is much fresher and that fighting instinct will never go away.

As mentioned earlier, Pennetta leads the head-to-head against Sharapova, 3-2, with three consecutive wins in Los Angeles (6-2 4-6 6-3, 2009), New York (6-3 3-6 6-4, 2011) and Indian Wells (3-6 6-3 6-2, 2015). It’s been a great match-up for Pennetta and the reigning US Open champion comes in with confidence after her win against Radwanska where her key weapon, the backhand, was firing on all cylinders. This could be a real cracker of a match when you also chuck in what’s up for grabs. As to the winner, I wouldn’t be surprised either way. I’d fancy a three setter; with how well she has been striking the ball in her first two matches, Sharapova has the edge for me.

12 thoughts on “WTA Singapore, Day 5 Preview: Maria Sharapova v Flavia Pennetta

  1. Can go either way, hard to call, Penetta is a very different player from both Radwanska and Halep, Penetta can take this, but Sharapova knowing that Penetta is soon to retire would want to fix her head to head against Penetta so shall be very determined as well, and mentally no one is stronger than Maria.

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    • This is nothing to do with who is going to retire. I don’t think Sharapova will think this way. At this stage, it is about money and desire to win. Pennetta will be more motivated than Sharapova in this match. She much win in 2 and Sharapova only needs to take one set. Sharapova has the “edge” because she is Sharapova….the WOW factor. I won’t underestimate Pennetta.

      Frankly speaking, this is a bad match up for Sharapova. The first 2 matches for Sharapova was much easier. Now, Sharapova has someone can match her power. If Pennetta does not miss so much on her forehand, she will win in 3 like the most recent three matches.

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      • Kidman …. Sharapova did mention in the interview that she wanted to fix her head to head against Penetta before Penetta retired and she was looking for revenge. So I wasn’t wrong.

        This is about money for Sharapova? Are you serious? Money?

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  2. Logic says Maria, her form is on the rise, but Pennetta needs this or she retires tomorrow in Singapore. Maria is basically in the semis already. Flavia has to fight for this somehow.

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  3. A very interesting game in prospect. For me, this one can be worked with a bit of mathematical and logical application where there is a solid foundation behind the hypothesis. Firstly, there are two possible outcomes that could happen to a player who has been away from the game for some time. They could either take time to find their rhythm and lose a couple of first round matches, or start from where they left off as if nothing happened, and suddenly break down when you just think that they are picking up some momentum. Maria has never suffered from rustiness due to absence more like Del Potro, but she just might wake up with sore muscles tomorrow morning causing a rethink in strategy. Firstly let me point out that this tournament comes at the wrong time of the year where most players have already been tired out and have very little reserve to go on, except probably hopefully depend on their adrenalin levels.

    Maria is too much of a level-headed professional to occupy her thoughts with something as trivial and irrelevant as getting even against Pennetta when there are infact more important considerations to ponder over.In coming into this tournament, Maria would have come in with a plan especially being aware of her form prior to entry. A wise guess would be to say that she did not come in here bubbling with confidence believing she was definitely going to win in the absence of Serena. Her plan must have been predicated on one game at a time with an eye on the wise management of her energy levels. This is where trying to out battle a desperate Pennetta might not make any sense strategy-wise. The only profitable reason why Maria might want to beat Pennetta is to try to avoid the dreaded Muguruza in the next knock out phase. She just does not have the energetic resources at her disposal for such an exhausting manoeuvre. Even at that, she would have to endure and come through a hard fought battle with Pennetta, try and beat the next opponent who wont be easy by any stretch of the imagination, and probably meet Mugu at a worse time with Mugu probably being in superlative form by then. A better alternative will be to take a breather and hopefully meet Muguruza in the next round where she can have the best chance of beating her.

    Pennetta is now a grand slam champ with a champs mindset. The sort of mindset that saw her beating Aga out of nothing. I really do not think that the US open form has deserted her just yet. Pennetta is still well into this competition to have a chance of winning it, well……apart from the fact that Muguruza is miles better off on form than anyone else. Advantage Pennetta!!!!!!!!

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    • Jite, you are completely clueless on how minds of wta players work and the intense mental drama surrounding wta players and the rivalries and the subtle bitchiness that happens. Sharapova doesn’t want to get even with Penetta? If that’s how you think than you don’t know Sharapova and you don’t know wta. Sharapova did mention that she wanted revenge before Penetta retired.

      Penetta’s champion mindset was visible during her horrendous performance against Halep, and now she lost in straight sets to Maria. So there you go! Penetta is a very good player, but mentally she is no where near the top 10.

      I think your analysis is more suited for atp tour, you are clueless on wta.

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