Sunday, 30 January 2011

Tennis ATP & WTA Week 5 (31/01/11)

Most of the big names will obviously be away this week to recuperate but there will still be a decent showing of players. At the SA Tennis Open reigning champion Feliciano Lopez will return as No.1 seed with Asian star Yen-Hsun Lu in at 2nd seed. Other names to look out for include Kevin Anderson, Rainer Schuettler and Janko Tipsarevic.

At the PBZ Zagreb Indoors the tournament will be headlined by home favourites Marin Cilic and Ivan Ljubicic. Both will obviously be the favourites, by far. Outside of those two there are a few threats including Radek Stepanek, Richard Gasquet, Arnaud Clement, Guillermo Garcia Lopez and Ivo Karlovic. Personally I wouldn't mind seeing a Croatian win on home soil.

Finally at the Movistar Open Thomaz Belluci returns to defend his title, however in his way are a triple threat of Argentinians David Nalbandian, Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Monaco. Tommy Robredo will also be a challenger here and I wonder what Igor Andreev's form is at the moment.

Whilst the WTA will rest this week and instead focus on Fed Cup ties. The World Group Ties; Australia Vs. Italy; Russia Vs France; Slovak Republic Vs Czech Republic and Belgium Vs USA.

I don't know if the line up is finalised yet as I always seem to blog about the teams and then they get changed but I will talk about the teams as they are now.

Rubber 1
Australia Vs. Italy
Australia has a 5-0 record over Italy! But Italy are the double reigning champions. Australia is only back into the World Group after 6 years so I think Italy are by far the favourites. Australia will features Samantha Stosur but Italy will feature the winning combo of Schiavone and Pennetta, both played well at the Australians. Doubles wise Australia has Rennae Stubbs whilst Italy has World No.1 Flavia Pennetta however both Anastasia Rodionova and Samantha Stosur are strong doubles players as well but yet again all 4 Italian tennis players are ranked in the Top 50 of the doubles rankings - I think that's one of the main strengths of the Italian team as they are extremely versatile. I think this rubber will be Italy 3-2.

Rubber 2
Russia Vs. France
Russia has a 5-3 lead against France. France may have never dropped out of the World Group but I think this year may seal their fate. Supposedly their team is Cornet, Razzano, Parmentier and Coin. That team doesn't sound that strong to me. In comparison the Russian team features an all-star cast including Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Pavlyuchenkova and Safina. Whilst this team looks awesome Safina has been playing awfully recently and Kuznetsova and Sharapova are still rather unpredictable. However they should be fine against France. Russia wins at least 4-1.

Rubber 3
Slovak Rep Vs. Czech Rep
I think the Czechs will continue their dominance over the Slovaks. Hantuchova hasn't been on form recently so everything lies in the hands of Cibulkova winning her rubbers. I do not know who Cepelova is and considering the Czechs don't have any players ranked under the Top 100 I think Cepelova will not be of any threat. Kvitova is one of the most in form players at the moment so she'll be tough to negate whilst Safarova and Strycova are both strong players whilst Strycova and Peschke are both good doubles players so all in all the Czechs have a stronger team. 3-2 to the Czechs.

Rubber 4
Belgium Vs. USA
I've never really understood how USA manages to win rubbers with their current team. They have a very strong doubles team but their singles team aren't brilliant. Now put them up against Clijsters and Wickmayer and I'm nearly sure they'll lost. 4-1 to the Belgians with the US double team saving grace.

In World Group II I'd say Spain will beat Estonia 4-1, Germany will beat Slovenia 4-1. The other two ties will be much more difficult to predict. Serbia doesn't seem to feature either Ivanovic or Jankovic so they're about equal against Canada. Whilst neither Sweden or Ukraine have any notable players.

Whilst for Britain we are drawn in Pool A of Europe/Africa Group 1 and will be up against Switzerland, with Patty Schnyder, and Denmark, with Wozniacki!, both tough opponents so I'd doubt we'll win. In our team is Baltacha, Keothavong, Watson and Jocelyn Rae.

Just a mention, why is China not featuring either Shuai Peng or Na Li? It seems weird that they'd not want to return to World Group II.

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