WTA Premier Event – Dubai
Final: Petra Kvitova vs. Sara Errani
Time: 10:00 a.m. Eastern
Head to Head: 3-0, Kvitova
Amy: Both players have impressed this week in Dubai, but it’s hard for me to imagine Errani earning a win over an in-form Kvitova on this surface. Provided we don’t see the sloppy, self-destructing Kvitova tomorrow, I expect her to crush Errani in straights.
Juan Jose: I just finished watching the second set of Petra Kvitova’s win over Caroline Wozniacki, and I’m probably more impressed than I was after the former World No. 2 absolutely destroyed the current World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska yesterday. The reason? Against Radwanska, Kvitova didn’t face much in the way of adversity. Today, Wozniacki went up a break early in the second set, and Kvitova did not panic for one second. Instead, she calmly went about her business, broke Wozniacki back immediately, and later broke again to close out the match. This is a sharp contrast to the Kvitova who seemed at the edge of despair just a month ago at the Australian Open, in her loss to Laura Robson.
Moreover, the former Wimbledon champ is hitting the ball very cleanly, and her footwork has gotten a lot more disciplined. I’ll go as far as saying that she looks like the player who was just a few points away from being the World No. 1 back in 2011. I think she’s back.
Now, a few words on how impressive Errani has been in the past few weeks. Everybody keeps expecting her to be nothing more than a clay courter, or to cave under the expectations raised after last year’s fantastic results. Yet Errani keeps plugging along, and she’s now in her second consecutive Premier final.
Unfortunately for her, she’ll have to play at an incredibly high level, and be way more aggressive than she usually is, just to have a shot at toppling Kvitova. It doesn’t help Errani’s case that Kvitova has had a chance to face Radwanska and Wozniacki, two players who share some of Errani’s characteristics, in the previous two rounds, and won easily both times. Another problem for Errani? The French Open runner-up played Kvitova three times on hard courts last year, and she didn’t win a single set. Actually, Errani never managed to win more than four games in any of those six sets.
Last but not least, Kvitova is a pretty great finals player: she’s 9-2 in her career, and those nine victories include Wimbledon, the WTA Year-End Championships, and two Premier Mandatory events. Hence, Kvitova will win tomorrow, 6-4, 6-4.
Lindsay: Last week in Doha against Serena Williams, we saw flashes of the Petra Kvitova who won Wimbledon in 2011. She’d been in hiding for about a year, and it was great for everyone to see her. I had hopes that she would show up again this week – so much so that I actually picked her to win the tournament even before Azarenka and Serena withdrew. Her form this week has made me look much smarter than I actually am. When Kvitova is on, she’s one of the few players on tour who can rival the top two players in the world on any surface in any situation. (Of course when she’s off, she loses to Mladenovic on her best surface.)
She only has to get through still-underrated Sara Errani, who continues to impress and surprise and be a factor even when the world has counted her out. She has been consistent, calm, and relentless all week, and by finding ways to turn matches around (she was bageled in the second set against Petrova) and turn her fantastic defense into selectively powerful offense, she’s proven once again that she should be taken seriously anywhere,
But what makes Kvitova so dangerous against other defensive players (such as Radwanska and Wozniacki who she played in the quarters and semis) is her ability to completely take the racket out of her opponent’s hand, and Errani simply doesn’t have enough firepower to deal with that. I expect that Kvitova will have some nerves that will make this go three, but she’ll triumph in the end.
WTA International – Memphis
Sabine Lisicki vs. Marina Erakovic
Head-to-Head: 2-1, Lisicki
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
Amy: I have a really hard time trusting Lisicki these days. Her game is so on-and-off, you just never know what you’re going to get. Erakovic and Lisicki have split their last two meetings, and both have been three-setters, so this is a close match-up. I’m going to go with the upset for Erakovic in three sets.
Juan Jose: I’ll be honest: I’ve never seen Marina Erakovic play tennis. The WTA site waxes poetic about her run to this year’s Memphis final, and I’ve just learned that Erakovic is the current runner-up in this particular tournament, having lost in the final to Sofia Arvidsson last year.
However, I’m going to go against my better judgement and pick Sabine Lisicki to win tomorrow. She’s the better player, as well as the only one who actually knows what it feels like to win a title (Lisicki is 3-3 in finals, while Erakovic is 0-2). Also, I’m impressed that she won today’s match in straight sets, despite the fact that Rybarikova served for the first set twice, and once for the second set. Sure, this might also mean that Rybarikova choked, or that Lisicki got hot at the right moment, which is something that’s very hard to replicate. However, I choose to go with Lisicki’s side of the story: she just never stopped fighting. That’s a great attitude to have in this sport.
This is why the erratic German will atone for her loss in the Pattaya final, where she was up a set and a break, then was down a break in the third set, then served for the trophy at 6-5, got broken at love, and finally lost the title in a tiebreaker. Typing that makes me not want to pick Lisicki again, but here I go anyway; Sabine Lisicki will win, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.
Lindsay: I haven’t seen Erakovic play a lot of tennis either, but what I saw from her today was impressive, though I’m still in shock about Voegele being completely screwed over by the umpire. But Erakovic clearly plays well in Memphis, and has beaten some quality opponents on her way to the final, taking out Arvidsson and Hampton rather easily.
But Lisicki is just simply a more talented player, especially on the indoor hard courts, and has really done a great job of finding her form and playing her way out of trouble this week. My pick was Lisicki at the beginning of the week, and I’ll stick with that. Sabine in two sets.