samedi 7 janvier 2012

Apia International 2012 Preview : Main Draw and Predictions

The Sydney Premier event is one of the strongest in this beginning of the year as the top players want to get ready for the Australian Open, the upcoming week. In fact, appart from Maria Sharapova, still recovering from an ankle injury, all the Top 10 is present in Sydney to try to play some matches and to get some confidence before the first Slam of the year. Last Year, Li Na, won there against Kim Clijsters in the final, which was the beginning of a great season for the chinese player. But, now Let's take a look first at the draw

(1/DEN) Caroline Wozniacki vs BYE
(SVK) Dominika Cibulkova vs (CHN) Shuai Peng 
(RUS) Anasatasia Pavlyuchenkova vs (GER) Andrea Petkovic 
QUALIFIER vs (7/POL) Agniezska Radwanska

(3/BLR) Victoria Azarenka vs QUALIFIER
(SRB) Jelena Jankovic vs (GER) Julia Goerges
(WC/AUS) Jelena Dokic vs (WC/AUS) Isabella Holand 
QUALIFIER vs (8/FRA) Marion Bartoli

(6/RUS) Vera Zvonareva vs (RUS) Svetlana Kuznetsova
(CZE) Lucie Safarova vs (SRB) Ana Ivanovic
(ITA) Flavia Pennetta vs QUALIFIER

(5/AUS) Samantha Stosur vs (ITA) Francesca Schiavone 
(ITA) Roberta Vinci vs (SVK) Daniela Hantuchova 
QUALIFIER vs (GER) Sabine Lisicki 
BYE vs (2/CZE) Petra Kvitova

Interesting 1st rounds matchs-up 

(SVK) Dominika Cibulkova vs (CHN) Shuai Peng 

Two players who are really able to pull out big upsets and play great tennis when they are on. Shuai Peng is back from injury and played a strong first half of season in 2011, she's got a lot of points to defend while Dominika have beatten Caroline Wozniacki, the world number one, in Sydney, in the second round. This match will be a great test for the chinese player who will figure out how much she still have to work to be back to the level she had. Dominika Cibulkova is indeed, one of the solidest and steadiest players on tour, no doubt she'll force Shuai to play strongly to beat her. The play should be around who will be the best at backhand as it's both ladies' biggest weapon on court. The player who will make the other hit the extra shot will probably take this one. 

Prediction : Dominika Cibulkova in two sets

 (RUS) Anasatasia Pavlyuchenkova vs (GER) Andrea Petkovic
 A good opposition to start with for both ladies who have been upset by the same Kaia Kanepi in Brisbane and had not the occasion to face each other. But here it is. Andrea Petkovic always got a quite good level during matches, she's very solid and stable from the baseline. Most of all, she's got a quality that Anastasia yet lacks of : regularity. Even when her level drops, Andrea Petkovic still has a minimum that allows her to win matches while Pavlyuchenkova, when she's off, can lose to anyone. It will really depend on how Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova shows up, if she plays good she should take this match. Let's bet on it, with her powerful backhand she'll force Andrea to defend from the baseline , but the german won't make it any easier... 

Prediction : Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets 

 (SRB) Jelena Jankovic vs (GER) Julia Goerges
Two talented ladies are going to face each other during this first round : both Jelena and Julia got a great tennis even though their style are very different. While Julia is a grinder from the baseline who hits the ball flat, hard and deep, Jelena really knows to do everything with the ball and prefer to stay behind the baseline striking and defending her side. The one who will take advantage will be the one who will make the less errors and the one who will also take chances when they will be some. By the way, Jelena's tennis seemed to improve from last year, during the Brisbane tournament and we hope this dynamic will keep on and that she'll play a good tournament in order to get right in track for the Australian Open ! Julia will count on her awesome forehand, on her solid serve and her sense of game, she's lived a great 2011 season and has to confirm this year. She's got what it takes to beat Jelena but will she handle the preassure out there ? 

Prediction : Jelena Jankovic in three sets

(6/RUS) Vera Zvonareva vs (RUS) Svetlana Kuznetsova
All Russian match between Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Svetlana has been struggling with herslef for two year now and I can't see her coming back on track, even though she had a run until the semi-finals at Auckland last week. In fact, her tennis collapses when she faces a solid tennis player who can hit one more single shot again and again and this is exactly what Vera Zvonareva does the best. We can count on Vera when it's about being regular and steady because all her game is based on those two qualities that could make her prevail. 

Prediction : Vera Zvonareva in two sets 

(CZE) Lucie Safarova vs (SRB) Ana Ivanovic

Those two players are one of the most talented of their generation, Ana showed it by winning Roland Garros three years ago... Then nothing, or almost... Ana, when her forehand is on can beat anyone, when she hits deeply and hard she's one of the best in the world while Lucie's left-hand is one of the best out there. She's able to do whatever she wants with the ball and, when she's on, produce one of the cleanest ball striking but she's way too iregular... Her left hand will make her find Ivanovic's forehand on her backhand which could cause some troubles

Prediction : Ana Ivanovic in three set

Predictions for the title : Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azarenka
Outsiders : Sabine Lisicki, Vera Zvonareva, Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli
Able to make big surprises : Jelena Dokic, Dominika Cibulkova, Daniela Hantuchova

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