WTA Katowice Open 2013 Draw Preview and Analysis

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For full draw, please click here: WTA Katowice 2013 Draw

A brand new International tournament makes its debut on the WTA Tour this week. The Katowice Open, an indoor clay court event, sees the return of women’s tennis to Poland for the first time since the Warsaw Open was discontinued in 2011.

Agnieszka Radwanska had expressed a strong desire to compete in front of her home fans, but was denied the opportunity as WTA rules state that a top ten player cannot play in more than one International event in the first half of the season. As Radwanska had already committed to play in Auckland before she heard about the new tournament in Katowice, she wasn’t able to enter the draw.

That leaves Petra Kvitova as the event’s top seed. Having impressed us with a run to the Dubai title in February and a quarter-final showing in Indian Wells last month, Kvitova lost some of her upward momentum with an early-round three-set loss to Kirsten Flipkens in Miami. The Czech will be hoping that the switch to clay courts will help her hit top form again; although it is not her best surface, she won in Madrid in 2011 and reached the semi-finals of the French Open last year.

Kvitova will open her Katowice campaign against Misaki Doi of Japan, who she has never played before. In the second round, she will face either 95th-ranked Vesna Dolonc or Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella. Although routine wins cannot be taken for granted when it comes to Kvitova, it would nevertheless be a huge surprise to see her lose to any of these players, not to mention a huge setback for Kvitova herself. Assuming she reaches the quarter-finals, then, she is most likely to run into either fifth seed Alize Cornet or world number 91 Petra Martic. Cornet has had her best result of the season so far on a clay, a semi-final showing in Acapulco in February. Martic, tipped as a possible breakout star last year, hasn’t won a match yet in 2013, but the Croatian is too talented a player to remain in such a slump for much longer.

Julia Goerges had her breakthrough moment on indoor clay courts in 2011, when she stunned Caroline Wozniacki to win the Premier title in Stuttgart. While she hasn’t managed to win a trophy since then, she has remained in the top 30, in spite of some erratic performances. If the powerful German, seeded four in Katowice, can negotiate a path to the last eight, she could face an intriguing clash with compatriot Sabine Lisicki. Lisicki, one of the best servers on tour and a top-tier player on grass, had a miserable time on court after Wimbledon 2012, but she has shown encouraging signs of life this season, with runner-up finishes in Pattaya City and Memphis.

It is a little surprising to see Laura Robson in the Katowice draw, as the teenager played in Charleston last week and is set to be a key force in Britain’s Fed Cup away battle with Argentina next week. Should she manage to shake off the jet-lag, however, Robson will be under pressure from the get-go in Poland. Her first round match with Lourdes Dominguez Lino is exactly the kind of encounter she needs to win more regularly if she is to continue her ascent of the rankings. Yet Lino is an experienced clay court campaigner, and beat Robson in their only previous meeting in Beijing last October. The highest-ranked player in this section is third seed Klara Zakopalova, who reached the fourth round in Roland Garros last year and tends to perform well on clay.

World number one doubles player Roberta Vinci is the second seed at the Katowice Open, and will face the slumping Andrea Hlavackova in the first round. Thirty-year-old Vinci has become a more confident, consistent singles player in recent seasons, and this year she reached the semi-finals in Dubai and the last eight in Miami. She is seeded to meet Kaia Kanepi in the quarter-finals this week. The Estonian, who has been suffering from a serious achilles injury, will be playing her first tournament since Tokyo last October. A French Open quarter-finalist in 2012, she will be hoping that her relatively kind draw in Katowice – for the first couple of rounds at least – will allow her to rebuild confidence in her game and movement.

This tournament will be seen by many as Petra Kvitova’s to lose. If the world number eight is at her best, she should power to the title. If, on the other hand, we see the Kvitova who is prone to mental walkabouts and dubious shot selection, there are plenty of players in the draw who could take advantage.

Predicted semi-finals: Kvitova def. Lisicki; Vinci def. Zakopalova

Champion: Petra Kvitova

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