Saturday’s Cincy SF matches
Simona Halep vs. Aryna Sabalenka: In their only previous match, Halep won rather comfortably, 6-2 6-2 in Shenzhen. Sabalenka has gone on an absolute tear since Eastbourne and all these three set wins must have given her so much confidence. Against Keys on Friday she finally won in straight sets! This has been an exceptional effort from Halep to reach the semi-finals and to play two matches in a day for the second week in a row. I really do wonder what Halep has left in the tank though. Sabalenka has looked fearless in the big moments and is playing potent aggressive tennis. I’m going for Sabalenka.
Petra Kvitova vs. Kiki Bertens: A Madrid and Montreal rematch! The pair played just last week in Montreal where Bertens won rather comfortably, 6-3 6-2. Like Sabalenka, Bertens is riding a huge wave of confidence and is picking up top ten wins all over the shops. Kvitova was pushed hard by Mertens on Friday so it will be a tough one to recover from. I do think that QF has activated fighting P3tra! It is worth noting that every time she has reached the quarters this year Kvitova has gone onto win the title. I’m going for Kvitova.
Saturday’s Cincy SF polls
Friday’s Cincy QF matches
Petra Kvitova vs. Elise Mertens: Ring the bells for a new match-up! Kvitova has had one of the smoothest weeks of anyone in terms of rain and the scheduling as she played her second round match on Tuesday and managed to finish her third rounder in straights on Thursday. Mertens must be feeling it as she’s played three consecutive days and went deep in Montreal. I think that Mertens has the game to trouble and disrupt Kvitova. She’s got a great balance between defence and attack. I do have my concerns as to whether physically she can keep this remarkable run going. Kvitova in 3.
Madison Keys vs. Aryna Sabalenka: Keep ringing those bells for another new match-up! These two confirmed QFs are both exciting to me. Keys’s win over Kerber was her best result of the year. I was so impressed that she managed to turn it around after the first set. Running out of superlatives for Sabalenka who scored her 3rd top 10 win in a week – all 3 wins have involved saving match point! Sabalenka must be floating on air with all these three set wins, five in her last six matches.
I actually like Keys in this match-up and this year she has mostly handled and beaten the fellow power players she has played. The American generally struggles against the counter-punchers, which Sabalenka is definitely not! I think the win over Kerber was huge for Keys as it’s a match-up she has consistently struggled in. I’m going to go with my instinct here even though I think Sabalenka has been fantastic this week and remains very dangerous. Keys in 2.
Friday’s Cincy QF polls
Friday’s Cincy R3 matches
Simona Halep vs. Ash Barty: A rematch from the Montreal QFs where Halep rather comfortably beat Barty, 6-4 6-1. Halep played a tactically brilliant match as she targeted the Barty backhand. I think Barty would have to be bolder and come forward more to challenge Halep. Halep took a medical time-out in her first match in Cincy vs. Tomljanovic for her back and she must be exhausted after her exploits in Montreal. I’m wondering whether the tournament organisers know something as the winner of this match will play Lesia Tsurenko on Stadium 3. The world number one on Stadiium 3 would be bizarre. If she does go for it, i’d probably go for Halep because I think the match-up suits her. It’s tough to say with how she is feeling and what happens with the weather.
Elina Svitolina vs. Amanda Anisimova: Svitolina hasn’t played since Tuesday (!) when she beat Kuznetsova in her only match of the week so far. Anisimova continues to dazzle on the WTA tour with wins over Babos and Martic, the latter saving 13 of 14 break points! IMO, Anisimova is a future Slam champ. Her mentality is so impressive for her age. This will be a big step up for Anismova though as she does have very little experience on tour. She competed very well vs. top ten opposition in Indian Wells vs. Kvitova and Pliskova. Svitolina’s consistency will be a challenge. Very intrigued to see how AA gets on here. Svitolina in 2.
Thursday’s Cincy R3 matches
Ekaterina Makarova vs. Lesia Tsurenko: Makarova leads the H2H, 2-1 with both wins coming on the hard courts. Makarova has dropped just seven games in her first two matches in Cincy, both coming against players she has lost to in the last few months. Tsurenko scored her best win in nearly three years by beating Muguruza in three sets.
I have question marks about both players. Makarova’s credentials speak for themselves with her long list of top ten wins and Slam second week appearances. However, her consistency over the past year or two has not been there. This run in Cincy is just the second time this year that she has won B2B matches in singles all year. Tsurenko has retired hurt from three of her last four matches so I am worried how she responds to a pretty gruelling match, both physically and mentally, against Muguruza. Weighing all that up and i’m leaning towards Makarova. Makarova in 2
Caroline Garcia vs. Aryna Sabalenka: What a match this could be. Garcia and Sabalenka both played extremely well in second round wins. Garcia beat Victoria Azarenka, 6-4 7-5, while Sabalenka saved 2 match points to beat Karolina Pliskova, 2-6 6-3 7-5. Sabalenka has been hugely impressive over the past month or two and her bravery on the brink won her the match against Pliskova. Both serve well, both love to come forward and both are aggressive. This will be their first meeting on tour and i’m pretty much on the fence. Therefore i’d probably just take a whirl with Sabalenka who must be feeling pretty confident right now having come from a set down to beat Wozniacki, Konta and Pliskova in just the last week. Sabalenka in 3.
Sloane Stephens vs. Elise Mertens: Another first time match-up on the tour! Stephens had a pretty straightforward win over Tatjana Maria in her first match since Montreal. Mertens joined Stephens in beating the rain, needing a third set tiebreak to beat Peterson in a nice match. I had Mertens winning this one in my Draw Challenge. Now i’m not so sure! Mertens has got the forearm taped and had a pretty gruelling match on Wednesday. I didn’t get to see Stephens’s win so I feel in the dark. Another match, another decision that i’m not confident in. Sloane?
Petra Kvitova vs. Kristina Mladenovic: I’m halfway through watching Serena-Petra and my my, Petra brought it in that first set! It’s become pretty standard that Kvitova gets up for these big matches and she called it one of her best matches of the year in her press conference. Now she’ll take on Mladenovic who, to be honest, is a surprise to see make it this far! I thought Kuzmova would be a tough match but Mlads dropped just three games. Kvitova leads the H2H, 5-1 with all their previous matches being decided in straight sets. A little wary for how Kvitova gets up for this clash but still going Petra for the win. Kvitova in 2.
Angelique Kerber vs. Madison Keys: Kerber leads Keys, 7-1 in their H2H including winning their last four all in straight sets. This has historically been a good match-up for Kerber with her ability to absorb and redirect pace, and be consistent. I remember early on in the match-up Keys struggling with the backhand return. Going in Keys’s favour is that she just bagged a comfortable win over Camila Giorgi in the 2nd round and Kerber is still clearly feeling her way back into action, toughing out a 3 set win over Pavlyuchenkova on Wednesday. I’d love to see a competitive match between the pair because I like the clash in styles. Can’t look past Kerber with the H2H. Kerber in 2.
Kiki Bertens vs. Anett Kontaveit: I was rather surprised to see Kontaveit fly past Sakkari for the loss of just 4 games. I haven’t seen Kontaveit play this week so totally underestimated her. The pair are tied at 1-1 in their H2H and if both bring it, then it should be close. Bertens in 3.
Thursday’s Cincy R3 polls
Wednesday Cincy R2 matches
Simona Halep vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: A pretty quick turnaround for Halep who was clearly tired after the Montreal run. After winning Montreal in 2016, Halep went onto reach the semi-finals in Cincy so she’s certainly capable of backing it up. In fact, Halep has made at least the semi-finals of Cincy for the past three years. Tomljanovic has had a pretty good year and seems to be competing consistently with any major issues with the shoulder. Not convinced though that Tomljanovic has the staying power to cause an upset even if Halep may be tired. Halep in 2.
Kaia Kanepi vs. Ash Barty: Worth noting that after winning her singles match against Vondrousova in straight sets, Barty pulled out of doubles with a viral illness. I would have probably gone Barty but not sure about her health and particularly after a busy week in Montreal where she went deep in both the singles and doubles.
Alizé Cornet vs. Ekaterina Makarova: Makarova gained revenge for a recent loss to Ana Bogdan in DC in her first round match in Cincy and now gets a shot at overturning a loss to Cornet on the grass in the second round. Cornet’s won all three previous matches against Makarova including their most recent match in Brum, 5-7 6-4 6-1. Like Cornet again as she’s been very steady post-Wimbledon and has the type of game that I think I could get into Makarova’s head if the match stays close. Cornet in 3.
Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Lesia Tsurenko: The Cincy defending champ is set to play her first match of the summer hard court season after pulling out of San Jose and Montreal with an arm injury. The pair started their fourth round match at the French Open this year where Tsurenko was forced to retire after two games. Tsurenko has since retired from more matches but waltzed past Danielle Collins in the first round. Tsurenko’s a decent player on hard courts. I’d favour Muguruza presuming she is fit enough to compete.
Angelique Kerber vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Very interesting match. The pair are tied at 4-4 in their H2H and Pavs has won three of their last four meetings. Pavs wasn’t tested in a 6-1 6-0 win over Krunic in the first round. Kerber didn’t play well in Montreal but she’s had another week of practice before Cincy. Definitely tag this with a mild upset alert but I do think Kerber to compete better this week. Kerber in 3.
Madison Keys vs. Camila Giorgi: Another interesting one. I still remember their match from Wimbledon last year which was a ball. Keys has since won in Charleston earlier this year. Keys struggled to find the court against BMS but did well to hang around and win in three. Keys served very well and that wll be key in this match. Giorgi beat Sevastova in a low-key excellent win. Giorgi played well in Cincy last year so she will be dangerous and Keys will won’t underestimate her. On the fence. Another upset alert but not feeling brave! Keys in 3.
Karolina Pliskova vs. Aryna Sabalenka: Can’t make my mind up about this one! Would have gone Sabalenka before I saw Pliskova’s performance against Radwanska. I think Rennae Stubbs in her corner is such a positive move and she had an instant response when she came on for a changeover chat. Beating Radwanska was a big deal. Sabalenka has been progressing very nicely and enjoyed another brilliant hard fought win in the first round, coming from a set and a break down to beat Konta. Sabalenka won their only previous match at Eastbourne earlier this year, 6-3 2-6 7-6(5). Note i’ve been getting Pliskova matches wrong left, right and centre this year! I want Sabalenka to win tbh but edging towards Pliskova who looked a bit more aggressive against Radwanska. Pliskova in 3.
Elise Mertens vs. Rebecca Peterson: Good week so far for Peterson who came from a set down to beat Siniakova in her first round match in Cincy having come through qualifying. I’m going for Mertens as she has become very reliable this year. Mertens in 2.
Sloane Stephens vs. Tatjana Maria: Very intrigued to see how Stephens gets on here after her run in Montreal. I am more confident of Halep going deeper in the draw than Stephens. Maria has qualified for the main draw and still seems on a bit of a high from Mallorca as she is playing much better than compared to before Mallorca where she could barely win a match. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset but would still go for Sloane. Again, not brave. Plus Stephens was generally brilliant in Montreal. Stephens in 2.
Petra Martic vs. Amanda Anisimova: I quite like Anisimova’s chance in this match with Martic playing a lengthy three setter with Kasatkina on Tuesday night. Anisimova looked sound vs. Babos and was in control when serving out both sets. She looked like an experienced veteran in closing out with such composure. Anisimova in 2.
Anett Kontaveit vs. Maria Sakkari: Sakkari leads the H2H, 3-2 and has won their last two matches on hard courts in straight sets. In fact all their matches have been finished in straights. I thought Sakkari was brilliant vs. Osaka and served so well with great variation and coming up with something big when she needed it. Kontaveit dropped just three games against Strycova, a match I didn’t get to watch. I was so impressed in Sakkari in the first round so that’s my mind made up! Kontaveit won’t be hugely different from the threat that Osaka posed. Sakkari in 3.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Kiki Bertens: Match of the day for me. Wozniacki has got rather hosed with these draws after drawing Sabalenka last week. I thought Woz looked solid in Montreal and she did have three match points. I thought her movement was OK and have seen pictures of her practising without the strapping on her leg.
Bertens was near faultless against Vandeweghe and looks a different player to this time last year. Bertens is still clearly riding off the wave of reaching the QFs at Wimby. Bertens thrashed Wozniacki, 6-2 6-2 in Madrid but it was on Kiki’s favourite surface and it was quick. Wozniacki had won their three previous matches on hard courts in straight sets. Tough one to call. I’m going to take a whirl and go with Bertens. She just looks so confident right now and the serve is winning her plenty of free points. Bertens in 3.
Wednesday Cincy R2 polls
Tuesday Cincy R2 matches
Petra Kvitova vs. Serena Williams: Major excitement for this match and some disappointment I won’t be able to watch live. Serena had a good win over Daria Gavrilova. I didn’t see it so I feel in the dark as usual! Kvitova went 1-1 in Montreal, going out in straights in Bertens. Serena leads Petra, 5-1 in their H2H. I would say for both players, they generally get up for the big matches. This has especially been the case for Petra in the last year who has won 8 of her last 9 matches against top 10 opposition. Serena’s obviously not top 10 but this is a big match. Not sure about Petra late at night though! I’ll go with my initial instinct but it’s very tentative. Just hope it’s a good one. Kvitova in 3.
Elina Svitolina vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova: Svitolina is bidding for her first ever win over Kuznetsova who is riding a six match winning streak. Kuznetsova has saved match points to win her last two matches and needed a third set tiebreak to see off Voegele in the first round of Cincy. I thought Svitolina looked solid in Montreal and served very well. I thought she was struggling with the depth on her groundstrokes. Kuznetsova will be confident so it’s going to be a very interesting match. Svitolina in 3.
Caroline Garcia vs. Victoria Azarenka: Another cracking second round match. Azarenka played a decent match against a decent opponent in the first round, coming from a set down to beat CSN. Garcia played arguably one of her best matches in the year to beat Sharapova in Montreal. I’m kind of willing Azarenka to go on a run but as she has stated, she’s still finding her way having played so little tennis in the last few years. The injury in San Jose seems to not be an issue? All these matches are so difficult to call. Azarenka in 3.
Kristina Mladenovic vs. Viktoria Kuzmova: First time match-up between the pair. I’ll take a gamble on this one as not at all convinced by Mladenovic this year and Kuzmova has a huge game and is knocking on the door of a good run at a tour level event. Kuzmova in 3.
Tuesday Cincy R2 polls
Tuesday Cincy R1 matches
Karolina Pliskova vs. Agnieszka Radwanska: I’m just imagining Pliskova’s reaction to drawing Radwanska! Pliskova has never hidden the fact this has not been a favourable match-up for her. Radwanska leads the H2H, 7-0 and hasn’t dropped a set. Perhaps going in Pliskova’s favour is they haven’t played in nearly two years and Radwanska has reduced her schedule.
Pliskova didn’t make the best start to the summer hard court season with an early loss to Kiki Bertens in Montreal. I think Pliskova pulled out of the doubles with a shoulder injury so that could be an issue and even more so with Pliskova as she does rely on her serve. A few question marks about both. Cincy seems to be a slow to medium hard court which I think would favour Radwanska. In this case, despite Radwanska not playing since Wimby, the H2H is hard to ignore. I’m going for Radwanska.
Naomi Osaka vs. Maria Sakkari: Sakkari played the Indian Wells finalist first up in Montreal and now gets the champ in Osaka. I think this is a nice match-up with the contrast in styles. They actually played in IW where Sakkari was the only player to win a set against Osaka. I remember Sakkari changed up her tactics in the second set and hit shots with more height and loop, successfully out of Osaka’s hitting zone. The Japanese player settled down in the third set to win, 6-1 5-7 6-1.
I have question marks about Osaka as she had her leg taped up in D.C. and wasn’t moving well. She lost her first match in Montreal to CSN in straight sets. I haven’t seen any pictures of Osaka practising. The uncertainty is there but I still find myself edging very slightly to Osaka. Osaka in 3.
Kiki Bertens vs. CoCo Vandeweghe: This will be Vandeweghe’s first match since messing up her ankle at Wimbledon. Bertens was impressive in Montreal, showing positive signs to translating her good form on clay and grass to the hard courts. I think I read that she may have been feeling unwell for her QF match vs. Barty. Not sure these courts will suit Vandeweghe as she tends to like it much faster. Bertens in 2.
Daria Kasatkina vs. Petra Martic: Nice match-up! They have played once before on the ITF tour in 2015 where Martic won in straight sets. I think this is a tough match for Kasatkina who had a pretty crushing loss to Sharapova in Montreal. Martic didn’t drop a set through qualifying and has weapons. Tentatively going for Kasatkina.
Anastasija Sevastova vs. Camila Giorgi: Rematch from the first round of Wimbledon where Giorgi won, 6-1 2-6 6-4. This result was on Giorgi’s best surface. I do think it could be a tough match-up for Sevastova. Giorgi can be a very frustrating player to play with her lack of rhythm. Sevastova had a decent week in Montreal and has generally been solid at most tournaments excluding the Slams. Another tentative pick! Sevastova in 3.
Elise Mertens vs. Magdalena Rybarikova: I have been so impressed with Mertens this year and she has looked especially good through this summer hard court season. I think Mertens has a perfect balance between defence and attack. Rybarikova is one of my guilty pleasures and she had a good win over Strycova in Montreal. Rybarikova won their only previous meeting in 2016, 6-4 6-2. Mertens has come on leaps and bounds since then. The Belgian player has looked slightly hindered by an arm injury through her last two tournaments. Still, i’d go for Mertens after a few days off to win this one. Mertens in 2.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Aleksandra Krunic: Krunic has won just three games in her last two matches and is winless since her title triumph in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Pavs played solid in Montreal and was close to the upset win over eventual champion, Halep. I’m always wary with Pavs… but i’m going for Pavs. Pavs in 2.
Ekaterina Makarova vs. Ana Bogdan: Rematch from Washington a few weeks ago where Bogdan won in straight sets, 7-6(2) 6-3. Makarova had her chances in that match but Bogdan was pretty clutch in the key moments. Bogdan is having a good few weeks having qualified for the main draws of both Montreal and Cincy. Makarova has the more powerful game, but she’s winless on the main tour since Wimby and generally been inconsistent apart from Wimby. I quite like Bogdan’s chances of another win here having already played two matches on these courts. Bogdan in 3.
Ash Barty vs. Marketa Vondrousova: All the way out on Court 11! Also a bit tough for Barty to be first up considering she came late from Montreal where she won the doubles with Schuurs. Vondrousova snapped a five match winless streak on the main tour in Gstaad. I think there was an injury? Barty has been pretty steady in her opening matches this year so I would go for Aussie. Barty in 3.
Timea Babos vs. Amanda Anisimova: Big fan of Anisimova’s potential and the way she carries herself on court. I think this is a good draw for the American. Anisimova in 3.
Tuesday Cincy R1 polls
Monday Cincy R1 matches
Victoria Azarenka vs. Carla Suárez Navarro: Azarenka leads the H2H, 2-0, but the pair haven’t played since 2009! I didn’t get to watch any of Azarenka’s matches in Montreal so I feel in the dark with this one. I guess a lot comes down to Vika as it’s the type of match-up i’d expect her to prevail in if she’s feeling good about her game. Tentatively going for Azarenka.
Madison Keys vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Little has been said since Keys pulled out of San Jose and Montreal with a wrist injury. It’s good to see Keys back practising and on the schedule on day 1 of main draw so i’m guessing she is good to go? I suppose we will find out more in her press conference. BMS has won two singles matches on her comeback and both were noteworthy against the talented, Caroline Dolehide and Johanna Larsson on her favourite surface of clay. BMS played a pretty solid match against Stephens at Washington a few weeks back where she had big opportunities to win the first set. A few question marks around Keys but I would give the benefit of the doubt. Keys in 2.
Serena Williams vs. Daria Gavrilova: A night match for Serena who returns to action after pulling out of Montreal citing personal reasons. She explained her feelings in an Instagram post HERE. Their last meeting was at the Olympics on that deathly slow court where Gavrilova gave a good fight. I feel quite confident (famous last words) in picking Serena. I watched Gavrilova’s last match against Safarova in Montreal where she fell apart at the end and her serve looked so vulnerable in the crucial moments. I really want to see Gavrilova flourish but I sense she is going to through a tough spell on court with her confidence. S.Williams in 2.
Julia Goerges vs. Kristina Mladenovic: I was surprised to see Goerges go out to Sevastova in the third round of Montreal as she had been so impressive in turning matches around through the first two rounds. Her match vs. Safarova was of a very high quality. Optimism from a third round run at Wimby has already faded for Mladenovic with straight set losses to Babos and Azarenka in the last two weeks. Goerges leads the H2H, 3-1 and I like her general form to take this too. Goerges in 2.
Jelena Ostapenko vs. Alizé Cornet: I am legit gutted that this match is late because I am thereeee! This sounds like a match that every WTA fan would want to be courtside for. The pair have never played before on tour. Ostapenko didn’t play well in her first post-Wimby match against Jo Konta last week in Montreal. Cornet impressed with a third round showing and her best win of the year against Kerber. I’d tag this one with an upset alert. A lot depends on Ostapenko’s attitude and whether she’s up for a fight. Cornet will scrap hard and might just come away with a win. Cornet in 3.
Johanna Konta vs. Aryna Sabalenka: Low key my match of the day. And the one i’m finding it most hard to pick a winner for! Konta’s form has definitely improved and her recent defeats have all been respectable on paper – Svitolina, Mertens, Cibulkova, Wozniacki, Kvitova and Barty. Sabalenka is a player I continue to seek out on schedules and she played a great match to notch a career best win against Wozniacki in Montreal. On the fence with this one. When i’m on the fence I normally go the wrong way… Konta in 3.
Katerina Siniakova vs. Rebecca Peterson: This will be the first time that Siniakova and Peterson play anywhere but Bastad! The pair are tied at 1-1 on Peterson’s favoured surface. I’ve been impressed with Peterson this year and was surprised by how good her serve was at Wimby. Peterson beat Schmieds and Poots to qualify for the main draw. Expecting a close match. Siniakova in 3.
Danielle Collins vs. Lesia Tsurenko: Tsurenko has retired hurt three times in the last three months. In fact, she pulled out before a match with Collins in Monterrey earlier this year! This feels like a close one. Tsurenko is decent when she is fit. Collins has performed well on hard courts and in the US this year. Interested to see how she responds to a pretty crushing loss to Sakkari in San Jose from a set and two breaks up. Collins in 2 or retirement.
Monday Cincy R1 Polls