WTA Brisbane International, Quarter-Finals Preview: Kerber v Pavs, Azarenka v Vinci

It’s been a rather wacky start to the 2016 tennis season. Tuesday was a miserable day for the WTA with Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova both pulling out of Brisbane, and Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova retiring from their matches at the Hopman Cup and Shenzhen respectively. However, Wednesday presented some classic WTA drama… Broady v Ostapenko (for a full recap of events, check out the super recap by The Tennis Island HERE). This post is a pair of previews for two of the Brisbane quarter-finals with the other two quarters, Andrea Petkovic against Samantha Crawford and Carla Suárez Navarro playing either Garbiñe Muguruza or Varvara Lepchenko, also taking place on Thursday.

1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Angelique Kerber (Brisbane, QF)

Angelique Kerber

It’s a case of déjà vu in Brisbane as Angelique Kerber and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will play each other at the Brisbane International for the third time in the last four years. Pavlyuchenkova was first into the quarters with a three set win over Alizé Cornet, 6-2 1-6 6-4, her fifth consecutive victory against the Frenchwoman. Pavlyuchenkova looked nervous trying to close out the match, giving away her serve with three consecutive unforced errors; however she recovered from 30-0 on Cornet’s serve to seal the win. Pavluychenkova was a touch more explosive from the baseline, backing up the early upset win over Timea Bacsinszky.

Kerber was behind in her first match, facing a break point to go down a set and a break to Camila Giorgi; a rain delay helped to turn the match on its head with Kerber winning the 10 games of the match, coming through 5-7 6-3 6-0. There were no such problems in her second round match as she powered past Madison Brengle, 6-3 6-0 in just 61 minutes.

Head-to-head record: Kerber leads Pavlyuchenkova in their head-to-head, 4-3, with all their matches taking place in the last three years. Kerber has won their last two matches including a 7-5 6-2 victory at Wimbledon last year in their most recent encounter.

Interesting stat: In all four appearances in Brisbane, Kerber has reached the quarter-final stage.

Analysis: This won’t be a straightforward match for the seed, Kerber. Pavlyuchenkova has beaten her before and has been playing some decent tennis, not just this week, but also at the end of 2015. However, if the German player delivers the consistent level that she’s managed to bring for much of the last year then it will take something special from Pavs to break her down. Perhaps this will be fourth time lucky for Kerber in reaching a semi-final at Brisbane…

Prediction: Kerber d. Pavlyuchenkova in 2 sets

2. Victoria Azarenka v Roberta Vinci (WTA Brisbane, QF)

Roberta Vinci

While the top two seeds, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova, have both pulled out of the Brisbane International, it has opened up what was a very dangerous looking top half of the draw. One of the players to benefit is Victoria Azarenka. After an exceptionally efficient display in the first round against Elena Vesnina, winning the last 12 games of the match, Azarenka was forced to work harder in her second round match against Ysaline Bonaventure. Once again, Azarenka came from an early break down in the first set before breaking Bonaventure’s resistance at the very end. Azarenka won 6-3 6-2 and finished the match with 19 winners to 20 unforced errors.

While the draw looks to have fallen rather favourably for Azarenka, her quarter-final opponent shouldn’t be discounted. Step forward, Roberta Vinci who has looked in sensational form so far this week, defeating Jelena Jankovic and Dominika Cibulkova. Against Jankovic, Vinci played some wonderful tennis in the third set, barely missing a volley and slicing with tremendous depth and accuracy. She backed up that performance with an even more impressive showing against Cibulkova, dropping just two games.

Head-to-head record: Azarenka has yet to drop a set in three previous matches against Vinci. The pair haven’t met on tour since 2012 in Tokyo when Azarenka won, 6-4 6-2.

Analysis: Azarenka was solid against Bonaventure but if Vinci comes out all guns blazing like her first two matches, the Belarusian will have to step up her game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this go the distance but i’d expect Azarenka to raise her level from her second round performance…

Prediction: Azarenka d. Vinci in 3 sets

Photos in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

11 thoughts on “WTA Brisbane International, Quarter-Finals Preview: Kerber v Pavs, Azarenka v Vinci

  1. Garbine retired in her match against Lepchenko,citing foot pain.Another player bites the dust,she said she is uncertain she will play Sydney now.

    I picked Azarenka as my Dark Horse to win Brisbane at the start of the tournament,she has won Brisbane before,if she does prevail to win the title again this would be a huge confidence booster before the AO.

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  2. The way Vinci has started this year has been a wonderful surprise. As good as Azarenka is, I think Vinci has the game to really mess with her head. Roberta isn’t the same player who lost to Vika those other times. She’s hitting SO aggressively and really being so proactive. Not to mention her serving has come on leaps and bounds.

    On an unrelated note…have you been following the Hopman Cup at all? I don’t want to get my hopes up too much but Caroline Garcia has played two blinding matches. Not many can claim to have hit Sabine Lisicki off the court but she really did!

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    • Oh and Svitolina too. Watch the highlights from her Duvall and Pliskova matches. There are some points that are pretty Djokovic like- she’s sooooo fast! Just when you think she’s out of the point she puts the ball back into an impossible position.

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      • Andrew Mark,I am interested to see what Justine Henin can bring to Elina’s game,seeing she is joining her team this year.

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      • Really?? I had NO idea! I’m not the biggest Henin fan, I have to say. I thought she was a bit spineless, selfish and disrespectful to her fellow players. But one can’t deny how brilliant a player she was in her day.

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      • I heard Svitolina worked with Henin in the off-season but wasn’t certain they were working together full-time yet? Very promising start to the year for Svitolina and to finally get a win, even if it is in an exhibition, against Pliskova.

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      • I’m really excited for Svitolina. 3 wins so far. She’s hitting much more aggressively and her first serve has gained quite a bit of speed! And her lob may just rival Radwanska’s right now… if she plays like this in Aus she could make a good run.

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    • Vinci v Azarenka should hopefully be a decent match. I’ve been following bits of the Hopman Cup. This week is just so crazy. Saw some of Garcia’s first match against Watson. A wobble serving out the match in the second set but a big deal to win in three.

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  3. Sam Crawford USA qualifer ranked 142 reaches her 1st WTA S/final dispactching Petkovic with ease 63 60
    Love the way she goes for her shots,also did not show any nerves at all on the court,she plays the winner of Azarenka v Vinci.Keep my eyes on Crawford a great display of tennis from the youngster.

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