Saturday, 29 October 2011

Kvitova Star of 2011

Petra Kvitova Wimbledon Final 2011
The end of year WTA Championships have offered up some fresh faces as the semi finalists have now been decided.

Victoria Azarenka, despite her loss in the final round robin match, had already secured top billing in the White Group, and with her stunning recent form appears ready to take a major step in a huge event.
Never having been past a semi-final at Grand Slam level, the Belarussian should still have the firepower to dispense with Vera Zvonareva and proceed to the final in Istanbul.

Vera made it through as the second ranked player in the Red Group, only on a countback - one win and two losses hardly inspires thoughts of the Russian star advancing further.

If truth be told, the best performed player of the trio of single match winners was Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, whose comeback win against Zvonareva was full of merit, and the straight sets loss to Petra Kvitova should at least have been a three setter considering Radwanska led 5-1 in the first.

The other semi final is the marquee match of the two based on performances so far.  Czech Wimbledon champ Kvitova has been almost frightening in her attack on ball and opponent, and has yet to lose a set.
She faces reigning US Open champion Australian Samantha Stosur, who defeated her nemesis Maria Sharapova at the 10th attempt in straight sets, stumbled against the Azarenka freight train, but then destroyed hapless Li Na for the loss of a single game.  The Chinese girl failed to hold serve the entire match.

The winners of the last 2 Grand Slam titles fighting for a place in the final.  Kvitova must start the favourite, and head to head record gives her the advantage as well, leading that 2-0, including what was at the time a surprise victory when they met in the Australian Open earlier this year.  What Kvitova will not be able to do as easily in this match is to physically dominate.  The wins she has had have come against players without the power factor in their games - Wozniacki, Zvonareva and Radwanska.

As Stosur showed against Serena Williams in the US Open final, power is a major component of her game.  However, the Aussie will need to be sharp on her back hand wing, and continue displaying the variety of slice and spin that has complemented her forehand weapon and brought such success post Wimbledon this year.

The fact that Petra is a left hander throws another variable into the equation - Stosur's damaging off forehand will be collected by Kvitova's forehand in most instances, and the Australian needs to be wary of feeding this too much.

Overall, I believe that Stosur has the potential to win, but that Kvitova is the more likely given current form and how they match up against each other.

Kvitova would most likely face Azarenka in the final, and my prediction there is that Petra will win (repeating the semi final result at Wimbledon), and despite not finishing the year ranked number one, will have earned the title of Player of the Year.