WTA International – Kuala Lumpur
Final: Karolina Pliskova vs Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Time: 4:00 AM ET – Sunday March 2nd
Head to Head: 1-0, Mattek Sands
Amy’s Pick: Mattek-Sands has had an impressive run to the final, routining defending champion Hsieh Su-wei and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She hasn’t dropped a set since her first round match against promising youngster Donna Vekic. Mattek-Sands in straights.
Juan José’s Pick: Kuala Lumpur has offered quite a few learning opportunities for me this week. First, I didn’t even know who Karolina Pliskova was. Then, I found out she has a twin sister who also is a pro! Now I found out that Bethanie Mattek-Sands has been to three finals in her life…and lost one of them to Gajdosova. I kinda wish I hadn’t learned that one. Still, it seems like the tattooed American is playing quite well in the very hot conditions of Kuala Lumpur, and she has an opponent young enough to be overwhelmed by the occasion. She will win 6-2, 6-4.
Lindsay’s Pick: There really aren’t words for how excited I am that Bethanie Mattek-Sands is back in a final. I always thought that she had a top 20 game, but her track record with injuries is just abysmal, and she never seemed to be healthy and fit at the same time. This will be her fourth career final, and she’s yet to win a title, and this is by far her best shot. (In her previous finals she lost to Petrova, Paszek, and Gajdosova). This time she’ll face first-time finalist Karolina Pliskova, who should leapfrog her twin sister in the rankings with her good result this week no matter what happens in the final. I think Bethanie’s aggressive game and experience will push her over the edge, and she’ll be the second American woman to win a title this year. Bethanie in two.
ATP 250 – Delray Beach
Final: Ernests Gulbis vs Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Time: 3:00 PM ET – Sunday March 2nd
Head to Head: First Meeting
Amy’s Pick: Once in awhile, Gulbis reminds us why many thought he could become a top player. Not often, mind you. I do like his chances in this final to win in straights.
Juan José’s Pick: As we now know, Ernests Gulbis was down 0-4 in the third set of his quarterfinal match against Sam Querrey… and won the match in a tiebreaker. In his semifinal vs Tommy Haas, Gulbis found himself down 15-40 at 4-all in the third set, and then 0-40 at 5-all. Somehow, the erratic (I’m being kind) Latvian escaped and found a way to play incredible defense in the inevitable breaker to book his place in the final. It seems like for a week, Gulbis has forgotten his innate ability to find ways to lose matches. Working in his favor are two other facts: 1) he’ll face Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the final, someone who hadn’t even made it to an ATP semifinal before – let alone a final and 2) Gulbis has won this title before. Hence, Ernests Gulbis and his bizarre forehand will lift their third career title after winning 6-4, 7-5.
Lindsay’s Pick: Oh John Isner. Of course this happened. Delray Beach always provides an unexpected final, and I’m not sure anything could be more unexpected than Gulbis vs. Roger-Vasselin. It’s wonderful to see the 29-year-old Frenchman–who has always had an entertaining and dangerous game–making the most of his talent late in his career. And, yes, it’s also very nice to see Gulbis playing good tennis again. He’s certainly a fun guy to have around, and he’s more likely to give us fun quotes if he’s in the big tournaments, and to do that he needs to win matches so his ranking stays eligible. The Frenchman has a disadvantage being that not only is this his first ATP final, but he didn’t finish his match until 10:45 at night and it was a tough three-setter. Ernie has only been in two finals before, but he’s undefeated in them, and I don’t see that trend stopping. Ernie in two.