All eight second round matches are on Tuesday’s order of play at the Apia International in Sydney. This includes the first outing in 2016 for Simona Halep who plays at not before 6pm local time against Caroline Garcia (see preview HERE). This post covers Jelena Jankovic v Sara Errani (1st up on Show Court 1) and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova v Monica Puig (2nd up on Court 3).
1. Jelena Jankovic v Sara Errani (WTA Sydney, R2)
Jelena Jankovic will be seeking to level up her head-to-head against Sara Errani when the pair play each other in Sydney on Tuesday. Jankovic recorded her first win of the 2016 season with a 6-3 6-4 victory over CoCo Vandeweghe. It was a decent performance by JJ who hit the same number of winners as Vandeweghe (20) but 11 less unforced errors (15 to 26). There’s such a fine line between Vandeweghe playing good or bad; she played a handful of technically brilliant points but it was never sustained enough and her serve was never on. The second set was reasonably tight at the end; Jankovic faced a break point when serving for the match at *5-4. Vandeweghe was in complete control of the point… but lost it and then committed two errors as her chances faded.
Errani earnt her first win of the year, improving her head-to-head over Carla Suárez Navarro to 8-3 with a 6-3 6-3 victory. Errani had suffered a comprehensive defeat in her first match of the year, failing to hold serve at all in a loss to Belinda Bencic in Brisbane. Errani needed eight match points in gruelling conditions to see off the Spaniard and just looked relieved at the end!
Head-to-head record: Errani leads Jankovic, 3-2, in their head-to-head. JJ snapped a three match losing streak to Errani in Zhuhai at the end of last year with a hard fought, 6-4 7-5 victory.
Analysis: This had been one of those puzzling head-to-head records with Errani owning Jankovic of late, beating her in straight sets on three occasions. Jankovic always struggled to break the Italian player down, with her aggression not enough to overcome Errani’s consistency. The win in Zhuhai was a huge one for JJ and she was probably helped out by the faster court. I’d fancy this to be a gruelling match with Jankovic, based on her showing against Vandeweghe, just edging it,
Prediction: Jankovic d. Errani in 3 sets
2. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova v Monica Puig (WTA Sydney, R2)
Like Jankovic, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova won her first match of 2016 on Sunday, coming back from a dire first set to beat Timea Bacsinszky, 1-6 6-1 6-3. Schmiedlova, who lost her first match in Brisbane to Varvara Lepchenko, was once again out-of-sorts. Towards the end of the first set, she seemed to forget how to serve! Her second serve in particular remained vulnerable throughout the entire match, but her groundstrokes kept her afloat. She was the more aggressive player in the third set and recovered a break on two occasions with Bacsinszky’s serve and forehand breaking down,
Schmiedlova is in a favourable section of the draw where she will now play Monica Puig in the second round. Puig has won four matches so far this week, coming through qualifying with wins over Andreea Mitu (6-2 6-3), Yulia Putintseva (7-5 6-1) and Polona Hercog (2-6 6-1 6-1). In the first round, Puig defeated the lucky loser, Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-2 3-6 6-4 in one hour and 56 minutes. Puig, who has been ranked as high as number 41 in the world, is currently down at 94 and said in a recent interview on the Apia International website (linked below) that she has been working on her mental strength.
Head-to-head record: This will be the first time that Schmiedlova and Puig have played each other on the WTA tour.
Analysis: Puig may fancy her chances if Schmiedlova fails to get her serve going once again. The 22-year-old Puerto Rican will be able to draw on confidence from winning four matches. While she started the year with three very poor sets, Schmiedlova showed a marked improvement at the end of her match against Bacsinszky. I’d fancy this to be tight match but Schmiedlova to come through.
Prediction: Schmiedlova d. Puig in 3 sets
Poll for Kuznetsova – Lisicki… didn’t watch either players’ matches so no preview. 50/50 on this one so thought i’d put up a poll!