WTA Moscow: Preview & Predictions


WTA Moscow: Can Pavlyuchenkova continue to reign supreme under the roof?

The 2015 Kremlin Cup gets underway this week on the indoor hard courts in Moscow, Russia.

As the final Premier level event before the WTA Finals in Singapore, those who haven’t yet qualified for the prestigious season ending finale have one last chance.

As Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova, Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska have already secured their places, three spots remain up for grabs this week. Angelique Kerber, Lucie Safarova, Flavia Pennetta, Carla Suarez Navarro and Karolina Pliskova are all still in the running.

Here’s a preview of the draw and my prediction as to who will reach the semi finals.


Top Half: (8) Anna Karolina Schmiedlova vs (6/WC) Karolina Pliskova.

(3/WC) Flavia Pennetta took a late wildcard into the event after Caroline Wozniacki withdrew due to a knee injury and moved to the top of the draw after Agnieszka Radwanska also withdrew, citing fatigue. The US Open champion might have hoped to have already qualified for Singapore but failed abysmally last week in Tianjin, losing her opening match to Lyudmyla Kichenok, ranked 414th in the world! Ranked eighth on the Road to Singapore at present, Pennetta still stands a good chance of qualification based on her current points total, even though  she could well lose her tough opener against either Alize Cornet or Daria Gavrilova.

(8) Anna Karolina Schmiedlova played well in Asia but contracted a viral illness which forced her to withdraw from Linz. Providing she’s recovered, the young Slovak opens up against a qualifier and could take advantage of a section that lacks any dominate figures.

(4) Angelique Kerber will be kicking herself for the fact that she hasn’t already qualified for Singapore. Had she not ran out of gas and faded to a 36 76(4) 61 loss against Jelena Jankovic in the Hong Kong final, she might well have already secured her place there. Considering she was less than fully fit in the third set of that match, has to make the flight to Russia and could well have to play Svetlana Kuznetsova in her opener, I don’t expect a strong week from the German. Nevertheless, she might well have been better off not playing this week at all as she currently occupies sixth place on the Road to Singapore and even if she loses early, would be extremely unlucky not to book her place. If she does indeed play and qualifies by her own doing, she risks completely wearing herself out with Singapore just days away.

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(6/WC) Karolina Pliskova took a late wildcard into the event after Petra Kvitova withdrew due to a hamstring strain. Coming in off a semi final run in Tianjin, the Czech has kept her slim hopes of qualifying for Singapore alive and must reach the final to stand any chance of even being an alternate. Given her relatively kind draw through to the quarters, opening up against Alexandra Dulgheru plus her added motivation for Singapore, I expect Pliskova to be dangerous this week on indoor courts to her liking.

Bottom Half: (7) Irina Camelia Begu vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

(7) Irina Camelia Begu is in fine form, winning a title in Seoul a few weeks ago and stands to have a good run here considering she was last year’s losing finalist. She opens up against Tsvetana Pironkova, the Bulgarian she beat in the quarter finals here last year. 

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(5) Carla Suarez Navarro must reach the final here to stand any chance of even being an alternate in Singapore. Though her losing streak stopped in Asia, she hasn’t played her best in months and might well fall foul of the 2011 champion here, Dominika Cibulkova in the second round.

(9) Kristina Mladenovic hasn’t quite kicked on from her US Open quarter final appearance. Furthermore, opening up against a qualifier will undoubtedly prove tricky considering their level of acclimatisation and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mladenovic doesn’t make the quarters.

(2) Lucie Safarova has recently recovered from the bacterial infection that caused her to be hospitalised and is now desperately trying to make up for lost ground in Asia. Her return to competition in Linz last week was brief as she was ousted in straight sets by Andreea Mitu. As she currently occupies seventh place on the Road to Singapore, chances of qualification look good for the Czech but she could well have to open up against the defending champion here, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who’s coming in off a title run in Linz. In fact, the Russian is riding a fifteen match winning streak in indoor tournaments, stretching back to the Paris Indoors in February last year! With this is mind, things don’t look too good for Safarova, though it’s possible Pavlyuchenkova could suffer from the effects of fatigue.

Next: WTA Beijing: Final Prediction

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