WTA Dubai, Wednesday’s Sweeping Preview: Kasatkina vs. Konta, Kontaveit vs. Osaka

Tuesday was a mostly uneventful day in Dubai with six of the seven first round matches being decided in straight sets and the two seeds in action, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Garcia, both prevailing. All eight second round matches are up on Wednesday so here’s a sweeping preview of the matches to watch out for.

Match of the Day

Johanna Konta (7) vs. Daria Kasatkina (Centre Court, NB 7pm local time)

Konta-Kasatkina caught my eye – biased as I like both players, especially Dasha! Konta has quietly had a decent start to the year, quickly putting a terrible end to 2017 behind her. I was impressed how she managed to fend off an ultra aggressive, Pavlyuchenkova in the first round and then take control when Pavs’s level dropped off. Konta won, 7-6(2) 6-2. Kasatkina scored a good first round win over Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets, 7-5 6-4. The scoreline was perhaps more impressive than the actual performance. Radwanska struggled to impose herself on the match.

Konta beat Kasatkina in their only previous match in Sydney last year, 6-3 7-5. I feel Kasatkina is still lacking belief in her game and this match-up is one that suits Konta, in my opinion, with the bigger serve and weighty groundstrokes. Konta has found it tough going against players with variety so that may be a tactic for Kasatkina to mix up the play. I hope Dasha can get at least a set but in all honesty, I think Konta is the clear favourite to win this match.

One to watch on the outside courts

Anett Kontaveit vs. Naomi Osaka (1st up on Court 1 at 2pm local time)

Poor tennis balls… a big hitting clash between Kontaveit and Osaka is one match that i’ll be keen to track. I watched back Kontaveit’s three set win over Stosur on Tuesday. It took Kontaveit some time to figure out Stosur’s game and with yet another late wobble, she eventually got across the finish line. Osaka, who is now coached by Sascha Bajin, has made an encouraging start to the year. I’d just have a bit more faith in Osaka being clutch with Kontaveit’s nerves in closing out matches still an issue. I hope it’s something that Anett can overcome with more experience.

Upset alerts

I’d tag Jelena Ostapenko’s opener against Elena Vesnina as an upset alert. I feel like it’s the sort of match-up where Ostapenko should roll if she is in form as Vesnina does seem to struggle against the big hitters, yet this is clearly not the case after an early exit to Mihaela Buzarnescu in Doha.

For a wild upset alert i’d give the nod to CiCi Bellis up against Garbiñe Muguruza in the final match of the day. Muguruza seemed to hurt her knee in the final of Doha on Sunday so there’s a question mark. Bellis comes in rejuvenated and confident from a quarter-final run in Doha, will have adjusted to the Dubai courts from her first round win over Mertens, and has already proven herself to be a gritty competitor who can cause trouble for the big hitters on tour.

Blast from the past

When Angelique Kerber and Sara Errani last played at the 2012 US Open they were both top ten players. Five years on and so much has changed for both! Kerber has recently regained her position in the top ten following a stunning start to 2018 that has seen her win 13 matches on the WTA tour and her only two losses come against the world’s top two. Errani is currently ranked at #143 in the world and is on the comeback after a two month ban for a failed drugs test (still befuddled by this one). The Italian player has already won four matches in Dubai and scored her first top 50 win since May 2017 after beating Lesia Tsurenko in the first round.

Errani has previously troubled Kerber and leads their head-to-head, 2-1. Errani’s consistency, touch and lack of pace has thwarted Kerber so this will be an intriguing match.

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16 thoughts on “WTA Dubai, Wednesday’s Sweeping Preview: Kasatkina vs. Konta, Kontaveit vs. Osaka

  1. Did you watch Garcia v Safarova match James? It was a good albeit not outstanding match from both, with both having positive stats and neutral winner-error ratios. Lucie was great for the majority but just had a few hiccups that were costly for her. Garcia was resoundingly solid but I think the only forehand winner she hit was match point?! Luckily her serve and backhand more than made up for it!

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    • I got back and started watching from 3-2 in the 2nd set. Lucie seemed flat and subdued at the very end, lacking in energy I thought. I wondered if something was up? I noticed the stats were solid from both. I’ve got Garcia making the final this week in my draw challenge.

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      • I think Svitolina may win again this week, even with a tricky draw. I could see Garcia getting to the semi’s, although I don’t think her level is quite where it was at the end of last year.

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  2. Someone told me players like Osaka and Kontaveit will help you win the battle but you will lose the war in the end. That is, a lot of firepower initially but no clear strategy to end it.

    Been on the Osaka bandwagon a lot lately, so going for Anett for a change.

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  3. A different Garcia here. It looks like Sabine’s fastest serve record is going to be in danger very soon;

    http://www.tennisforum.com/12-general-messages/1299184-georgina-garcia-likely-break-lisickis-fastest-serve-her-first-wta-md-week.html

    I don’t often link to TF threads here. but I couldn’t see this mentioned anywhere else. I agree with the poster who said that 220 km/h in women’s tennis is just insane; it’ll be interesting to see ho main draw WTF players cope with it.·

    BTW, as for that match; I’m a fan of Lucie’s but I think Caroline deserved the win. Similarly with Aga and Dasha; it sounds like neither were playing at their best but Dasha did just enough to win. As the younger player (and by some margin) I think she’s got less to worry about in the game than Aga has.

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    • There are questions of how accurate the speed gun are at low level events.
      Perez is also 25 and still yet to break onto the wta circuit, so not sure how likely she is to make an impact since her record on the ITF is fairly inconsistent.

      It’s actually quite weird that we had a decade of fastest serving records by Serena, Venus and Lisicki and then half a decade of much slower serving. It can’t be the surfaces themselves because guys on the atp are still showing record breaking serves.

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      • I think you’re right Andrew. Sabine herself clearly idolises Serena and Serena’s very fast-serving game would have been a model for Sabine as she was delevoping her own. But look at the results of that. Serena has said she’s got virtually no cartilage left on her knees (or one of them) and Sabine has had a lengthy from the game due to injuries (again to her knees).

        I think it’s likely that coaches of players coming up now have told their players that going for the ultra-fast serves simply isn’t worth it in terms of the toll it exacts on the body.

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      • You may well be right about that. Landing on one leg after serving and on a hard surface is going to do a lot of damage to your knee.

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  4. Niculescu vs Flipkens
    Last week in Doha Niculescu’s slice and dice game beat Sharapova’s power game.
    This week in Budapest it was odd ball game vs odd ball game, with Flipkens defeating Niculescu.
    I only saw the last couple of games, but Flipkens was using the serve and volley game on every first serve.

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    • Flipper’s a very talented player; I remember her final against Heather (Watson) in Monterrey which featured some excellent tennis from both players. She doesn’t seem to be able to string it together consistently though.

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  5. Massive well done to Darka! Disappointed in a way because I feel like she didn’t do anything that Caroline Garcia couldn’t have done- I feel like Garcia had completely the wrong game plan, trying to out hit Muguruza despite the fact that last week when she took a set off Garbine it was because of controlled hitting, with margin and spin.

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