Thursday, 23 February 2017

Teenagers show how in Dubai

Dubai has seen many shock results in the Premier 5 WTA tournament this week, making it difficult to forecast just who might take charge of the women's tour this year. Yes,  Serena Williams may not be in this field and is the obvious answer to the question, but history suggests she will only take charge as she pleases.

For mere mortals the discussion is more complex.
Karolina Pliskova won her second title for the year in Doha on Sunday, yet after a first round Dubai bye was smashed in the second round by France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-4.  Doha semi finalist Dominika Cibulkova, also given a bye to the second round, was able to advance no further, despite winning the opening set easily against Ekaterina Makarova.

The trend of seeds departing didn't begin here - the first round had already seen the last of Aus Open semi finalist Coco Vandeweghe,  joined in the departure lounge by Kiki Bertens, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Roberta Vinci and Yulia Putintseva.

After the second round was complete, the final sixteen included a mere five seeded players, and as we await the quarter finals, only three are left standing.  However it is the stories of two other players that is creating the excitement.

19 year old Croatian Ana Konjuh, ranked 36 in the world, beat the higher ranked Shuai Zhang (a Doha quarter finalist) in the first round, then seeds Stosur (12) and Vesnina (8) to reach the final eight where she will create many headaches for world number two and top seed Angie Kerber.
They have met once before, with Kerber the convincing victor, but Konjuh is on the rise, as her finals appearance in Auckland early 2017 indicated.

Americans have reason to feel their tennis future is bright if players such as Catherine Bellis keep on popping up.  The 17 year old, better known as CiCi, won her final three tournaments of 2016, the last a genuine WTA event in Hawaii.  It catapulted her into the top 100, and only injury prevented her carrying that momentum into 2017.  The disappointment of missing the Aus Open, and losing in qualifying in Doha has been replaced with joy as the potential star now enjoys the challenge of quarter final action against Caroline Wozniacki.  This follows ultra impressive eliminations of Putintseva and Siegemund plus her biggest win yet - that over fourth seed Aga Radwanska.

Wozniacki is my pick to win the tournament now - she has been consistent this year and is becoming stronger.  Thirteen match wins and four losses.  One final and two quarter finals before this one.  Three of her four losses have been to players ranked 2, 9 and 19, but as mitigating as that could be, the sense is none of it is satisfactory for her in the slightest.
After she beats a valiant Bellis, Caro should have too many weapons for the winner of an unseeded quarter final between Anastasija Sevastova and Qiang Wang.

It will then be another final,  against the winner of the other semi final, probably between Kerber and the Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, who should stop the excellent run of another American Lauren Davis.

No comments:

Post a Comment