The second of Saturday’s semi-finals at the WTA Finals in Singapore will be a blockbuster clash between the third seed, Maria Sharapova and the fourth seed, Petra Kvitova, starting at not before 6.30pm local time.
Sharapova qualified top of the red group, going 3-0 with victories over Agnieszka Radwanska (4-6 6-3 6-4), Simona Halep (6-4 6-4) and Flavia Pennetta (7-5 6-1). There were question marks surrounding Sharapova before Singapore as she had not played a completed match since Wimbledon; however she has blasted those concerns into the stratosphere, improving match-by-match and looking like the one to beat in Singapore. In her final round robin match on Thursday, Sharapova snapped a three match losing streak against Pennetta to secure her first win over the Italian player since 2006.
Sharapova’s win also sent Pennetta into retirement… congrats to Flavia on a wonderful career! I loved the hug at the net. I think the last time Maria was involved in a hug at the net was with Lucie in Miami last year! After recovering from a break down in the first set, Sharapova played some superb tennis at the end of the first set and into a one-sided second set. Sharapova couldn’t have asked for a better serving day, hitting seven aces, maintaining a high first serve percentage throughout and losing just one point behind her first serve in the second set. Like her first two matches, Sharapova’s groundstrokes were sharp and she also continued to use the drop shot, which has been a great addition to her game in 2015.
Kvitova went 1-2 through the round robin group stage but had her Czech teammate, Lucie Safarova to thank for, progressing into the semi-finals of Singapore from the white group. Kvitova lost her third and final group match to Garbiñe Muguruza, a tight three setter, 6-4 4-6 7-5. However, by virtue of Safarova’s straight sets win over Angelique Kerber, 6-4 6-3, Kvitova snapped up the final place in the semi-finals.
Sharapova and Kvitova will meet for the first time in 2015; this match will act as a warm-up act for the sure-to-be singles match that will take place in the Fed Cup final in two weeks time. Sharapova leads Kvitova, 6-3 in the head-to-head. It was Kvitova who won their last match in round robin action in Singapore last year, coming through, 6-3 6-2. Both Petra’s completed wins have come in straight sets. Before their clash in Singapore, Sharapova had won five matches in a row.
Based on recent form and fitness, Sharapova will be the favourite for this clash. Kvitova played a lengthy match with Muguruza on Friday, lasting over the two and a half hour mark, while Sharapova had a day off. Petra’s done great to reach the semi-finals and despite being affected by the effects of Mononucelosis for a large chunk of the season, you wouldn’t have guessed it from her ranking.
Perhaps Petra will summon up something special against Maria but i’m not feeling it unfortunately. Maria has looked in super form and looks to be in a great place right now. Head over heart with this one…
Prediction: Sharapova d. Kvitova in 2 sets