Bank of the West Classic Final Preview – Angelique Kerber v Karolina Pliskova

For the third time this year and for the sixth time in their career’s Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova will battle for the second time in a final this year. Their previous meeting was in the final of Brimingham with Kerber winning their epic match against her Czech opponent. Pliskova’s win this year came in Sydney at the beginning of the year in the semi-finals winning 6-3 6-2 against the German so who knows what will happen this time round.

Every final Kerber has played this year she has won winning Premier events in Charleston (Keys), Stuttgart (Wozniacki) and Birmingham (Pliskova) this year where as Pliskova has had mixed fortunes in finals winning only one of her four finals in Prague but didn’t have to play a player ranked inside the top 50.

If their meeting in Birmingham a couple of months ago is anything to go by this is set for another brilliant encounter.

If you haven’t seen Pliskova play before then you really should, if you can’t watch the match then look on YouTube, I’ve said time again she makes tennis look easy from the back of the court. Watching her play is a delight, she produces brilliant effortless shots from the back of the court and has the all round game to be a great defender and counter puncher.

Pliskova bh v tomljanovic stanford

Pliskova feeds off short balls from her opponents which happen from pressure and depth from the Czech forcing a short ball from the opponent and pouncing on it with a fierce backhand shot which zips through the court! The two forehand winners which I picked out are the yellow lines which are service return winners so Kerber getting her first serve into play is essential!

Dealing with this pressure from Pliskova will be very tough but one player who has the skills to battle from the back of the court is Kerber who could give Pliskova the run around. Kerber’s defensive qualities are some of the best in tennis and is good at bring opponents to the net and the speed she shows to move up the court is fantastic and can turn defence into attack with one shot.

If there is one area where I would say is a weakness for Pliskova it is her net play and I would expect Kerber to bring her to the net and really mix things up.

I spoke about Kerber’s strengths in a piece I did the other day. The German is strong off the backhand and especially the forehand as the graphic below shows.

fh bh kerber

These are forehands and backhands from her win against Gavrilova earlier on in the week. The angles Kerber can produce never fail to amaze and if she can continue how she has been playing this week in the final I think she will win it.

Since the change of the reorganisation of the WTA events in 2009 now player has won four WTA Premier events in one year, Kerber is one win away from achieving that!


Bank of the West Classic Preview – Angelique Kerber v Elina Svitolina

Both Angelique Kerber and Elina Svitolina had to fight hard in their quarter finals matches after losing the first set but both players are in the semi-finals after a couple of epic battles last night with Svitolina three points away from going out down at 4-6 4-5 however she went on to win 8 of the next 9 games to win in three sets.

I haven’t seen the full match of Kerber/Radwanska due to it being on at a 2am UK time however the highlights show it to be a brilliant match between the two players and another big win for Kerber who has had to beat tough opponents in Gavrilova, Konjuh and now Aga.

I watched a bit of Svitolina v Riske on my phone last night. I was impressed again with Svitolina she made her presence count on the court it unsettled Riske when she served for the match the Ukrainian showed great fighting spirit and deserved the win. At only 20 years old Svitolina is one of the rising stars on the WTA tour with 3 titles to her name however she isn’t spoken the same as Bouchard, Keys, Bencic, Muguruza etc… even though she has probably been the most consistent over the last 20 months. She may not have been in a major final yet but she is consistent on the tour and well on her way to achieving that.

This will be the 5th meeting between Svitolina and Kerber. The first two meetings in 2013 and 2014 Kerber won however the last two in Wuhan last year and Brisbane this year Svitolina has won all of their matches have been on hard courts as well!

I think this is set to be another classic match. You have two players who are quite similar in styles, both are very good defenders and can make epic shots however I do think Kerber has the edge. I previewed her match against Agnieszka Radwanska and I described her tennis at times as ‘video game tennis’ some of the shots she can make are nothing less than incredible and we have seen her very best fighting tennis this week.

There aren’t many players I can say have defended against Kerber really well and managed to get up the court. Garbine Muguruza put on an incredible performance to beat her at Wimbledon however errors from Kerber did help but still the Spaniard hung in there and took her chances which Svitolina has to do, you can’t camp at the back of the court against probably one of the best baseline players on the tour and hope to win.

This is where I hate making a prediction. I like both players and tournament success for both would showcase what a great year they are having on the tour. Despite how well Svitolina is playing I have to go with Kerber to win and if she wins this I expect her to go on and win the title on Sunday.

Caroline Wozniacki defeated in Washington!

For the first time in her career Caroline Wozniacki has lost to Varvara Lepchenko taking their head to head record to 4/1. The Dane looked set for the next round with her head to head record against the American however a match is never won on paper and Wozniacki has suffered another early loss taking her win/loss for the year to 30/14 which isn’t very good for a top 6 player. Since Rome Wozniacki has a win/loss record of 7/5 and hasn’t got any momentum going this year with her 6-4 6-2 loss to Lepchenko.

Other Results – Stanford

Angelique Kerber defeats Ana Konjuh – 6-4 6-3
Karolina Pliskova defeats Kimiko Date-Krum – 7-5 6-2
Agnieszka Radwanska defeats Misaki Doi – 1-6 6-2 6-0 (was 1-6 2-0 down)

Other Results – Washington

Ricardis Berankis defeats Teymuraz Gabashvili – 7-5 6-4
Jack Sock defeats Richard Gasquet – 6-7 7-6 6-4
Alexander Zverev defeats Alexandr Dolgopolov – 2-6 6-2 6-4
Sam Groth defeats Feliciano Lopez – 6-3 6-4
John Isner defeats Vasek Pospisil – 6-4 7-6
Steve Johnson defeats Grigor Dimitrov – 6-3 1-6 6-3
Marin Cilic defeats Sam Querrey – 7-6 7-6
Kei Nishikori defeats Leonardo Mayer – 6-4 6-4

Broady wins in three, 500 wins for Stosur & Lisicki loses from 6-1 4-1 up…

Naomi Broady defeats Jarmila Gajdosova 3-6 7-5 7-6!

Noami Broady is through to round two at the Citi Open after an epic win against the Australian Gajdosova. The match did look like getting away from the Brit at 3-2 in the first set when she went on to lose 5 games in a row and found herself 6-3 1-0 down but managed to get back into the rhythm of the match in the second set and broke at the last minute to take it 7-5. The deciding set there was nothing to separate them so it eventually went to a tie-break and at 3-2 to Broady play was suspended for a few minutes due to rain but that didn’t bother Naomi who went on to win 3-6 7-5 7-6 (8-6)

500 wins for Sam Stosur!

One of the underrated players on the tour reached a career landmark last night with her 500th career win coming against Kristina Mladenovic from France. Sam is a very talented player with just 8 career titles to her name one of which the US Open. Sam’s achievements on the singles and doubles tour have been incredible during her career so far and I expect more success for her in the future!

Lisicki loses from 6-1 4-1 up…

It’s a match to forget for Sabine Lisicki as at 6-1 4-1 up in the match you’d expect her to go on to win but qualifier Kimiko Date-Krumm who turns 45 next month had other ideas as she fought back to win 1-6 7-6 6-2 against the German! To lose from that position is shocking and watching highlights of the match she was running the show and then completely let it go and credit to Date-Krumm who never gave up to secure the win!

Can Wozniacki defend her points over the next couple of months?

After her exit to Barbora Strycova at Wimbledon last year Caroline Wozniacki’s form massively increased in the second half of the season winning the title in Istanbul runner up at the US Open and Tokyo as well as being one of the players of the tournament at the WTA Finals in Singapore. In the second half of last season I felt she was getting back to her best and in my opinion was the only played who pushed her best friend Serena Williams to her very best in every meeting they had however this year the Dane hasn’t carried on her form from last year.

Caro did win a title in Kuala Lumpur earlier in the year but didn’t have to play a player ranked inside the top 80 on her way to winning the title. This year Wozniacki hasn’t really impressed in the Grand Slams. In Australia it was a second round exit to an unseeded Azarenka, Julia Georges at Roland Garros and finalist Garbine Muguruza. At majors this year she has a win/loss of 5-3 so for a top 10 player it definitely needs to be much better than that. Wozniacki was unlucky not to win the titles in Auckland and Stuttgart as well this year but I haven’t felt she’s found her form at all from the backend of last year.

Defending points after a successful season on the tour is very tough. We have seen so many players in the past drop through the rankings after a poor follow up year. From now until the end of the season Caroline has 3530 points to defend, 1300 of which are from the US Open making the final and just over 600 from the WTA finals. It is crucial that she does find her form for the US Open in the tournaments leading up to it and qualify for the WTA Finals again!

In the current race to Singapore where the top 8 play at the WTA Finals Wozniacki is currently at 11 in the race with the only player to have qualified being Serena Williams. Defending points at this stage is important for any player, the tournaments come quickly and you can’t afford to be losing in the first couple of rounds.

Caroline decided not to defend her title in Istanbul this week but has opted to play the Bank of the West Classic starting on the 3rd of August ahead of the Rogers Cup. Wozniacki is the top seed for the tournament in Stanford this week after Serena Williams’s withdrawal.

Defending these points and getting to the WTA Finals at the end of October will be difficult but can Wozniacki do it?

Bank of the West Classic Preview – Angelique Kerber v Daria Gavrilova

The line-up for the Bank of the West Classic this week includes some of the top names in the world of tennis despite the absence of Serena Williams however a cracking match is in prospect in round one in Stanford with Angelique Kerber and Daria Gavrilova set to play each other for the third time this year with Kerber winning all two meetings both in Australia.

Kerber and Gavrilova are probably having their best results on the tour this year with three titles to Kerber’s name and is definitely a contender for the title in Stanford. Gavrilova began the year ranked outside the top 100 in the world at 231 in Brisbane where she first lost to Kerber in the second round and has gone on to beat Ana Ivanovic, Sara Errani and Maria Sharapova this year climbing almost 200 places up the rankings! Gavrilova is Russian born but has taken up residence in Melbourne and represents Australia in the Grand Slams as Grand Slams are under ITF rules but is still representing Russia on the WTA tour.

There are two things you can guarantee in this match, high quality tennis and drama from the two! Their meeting in Sydney earlier in the year finished at 3am local time with Kerber winning and Gavrilova breaking down in tears.

What makes them so entreating to watch is they both go for shots and angles most wouldn’t dream about going for. Both are great defenders and attackers and will use the whole court to try and get the opponent on the back foot and produce some exceptional winners.

Here is one from their meeting at the Brisbane International earlier on in the year…

Video via YouTube Channel – WTA

It was a short point but the quality of the tennis was incredible beginning with the return of serve from Gavrilova which immediately put Kerber on the back foot but then a couple of shots later went on to produce an insane passing shot.

I wouldn’t say either player has a big weakness which lets them down, they are similar players who are brilliant at defending and attacking however sometimes shots at the net are a little loose. I really expect this match to be an epic encounter with high quality tennis and high emotion from both!

Who will win? I wouldn’t like to predict!

Three Finals In Two Cities, But Who Will Win?

Three finals take place today, 6 finalists but there can only be three winners so who will reign supreme in Stanford and Washington this evening? Canadian duo Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic will do battle in Washington along with Kurumi Nara and Svetlana Kuznetosva whereas over 850 miles south of Washington Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will do battle in Stanford.

Vasek Pospisil v Milos Raonic

Well the Rogers Cup in Toronto and Montreal doesn’t start until Monday however Canadian tennis already have something to shout about going into it. Gabriela Dabrowski from Canada was part of the winning doubles team in Washington and we do know that a Canadian will walk away with the Citi Open title but which one?

Milos Raonic is having a very good year on the back of getting to the Semi Final at Wimbledon the 23 year old currently ranked 7th in the world a career high ranking has had a very good tournament in Washington. In the four matches played by Raonic so far he has played 8 sets of tennis winning all of them including 5 of them on a tie break. Raonic is obviously known for having a big serve and being effective in long rallies finding either side of the court easily however he has improved a lot recently with his net play with some excellent volley’s and drop shots which we have seen this week.

Vasek Pospisil has had a difficult year however this last month he has been in a great run of form. He and Jack Sock won the Wimbledon title against the Bryan Brothers and then they went on to win the doubles title in Atlanta however this week the Canadian has been making the headlines on the singles tour. He has enjoyed some fantastic matches against Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet on his way to the final and is finding his form again after a difficult start to the year with injury and poor form.

Who will win the all Canadian affair in Washington?

Kurumi Nara v Svetlana Kuznetsova

Japan’s Kurumi Nara has had a very good year on the tour, you could say this has been her breakthrough year winning a title and could be on the verge of winning another. If she does she will be ranked within the top 30 on the WTA tour.

Injuries and poor form has been a problem for Kuznetsova during her career, she has much more experience on the tour that Kurumi winning 13 titles in her career and will be looking to make it 14 and her first for three years. Svetlana has had many ups and downs in her career but one of her main triumphs was winning the US Open when she was 19 years old and then going on to winning the French Open in 2009.

Despite the experience and success Kuznetsova has had in her career so far I’m still backing Kurumi Nara to win the match, I expect the match to be a tight three set match however I think the 22 year old has enough to overpower

Serena Williams v Angelique Kerber

After a disappointing Wimbledon and also suffering with illness during the doubles match it is great to see Serena back on court and doing what she does best, winning matches. I watched the match last night against Andrea Petkovic and the German got off to a good start but when Serena won the first set 7-5 she then continued to improve and won the second 6-0.

It’s good to see Serena getting back to her best especially with a busy schedule ahead on the tour and hopefully she can do the business tonight and next week in Montreal followed by Cincinnati and then the big one in the city that never sleeps.

I’ve only seen a bit of Kerber’s semi-final highlights earlier. I would have watched the match but as much as I love tennis I probably would have fallen asleep minutes before it started. Kerber didn’t have the best match but if she starts sloppy v Serena later tonight then she might be in for a long night. Kerber is a player I like, she gives 110% and never gives up in a point and always makes her opponent play that extra shot. The match of the year so far on the WTA tour for me was Jankovic v Kerber in Qatar. It was full of high quality tennis throughout with both players giving their all. This is the point of the match and of the year in my opinion.

I doubt Kerber will win for Serena. A good start is important for Kerber but I do feel with the way Serena played yesterday then eventually she will pick off Kerber and win the match in two sets.