Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Belinda Bencic
Tokyo is degraded this year, but this is still tournament with very strong field. Veteran Kuznetsova will play against rising star Bencic in the first round. This should be interesting. Bencic reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final ever at the US Open. She beaten Kerber and Jankovic along the way. Kuznetsova lost to Erakovic in the first round. That was real surprise. This should be one of the most interesting first round matches in Tokyo. Bencic played amazing at the US Open. She played with controlled aggression and she beaten two top 10 players. Will it be enough to win this match? We’ll see. Svetlana is always dangerous opponent. With her powerful topspin shots, she can beat almost everyone if she she’s playing well. This match will show who’s mentally stronger. Kuznetsova is more experienced, but I don’t think that she’ll stop this rising star. This will be very tight match, but I believe Bencic will win it.
Prediction: Bencic in 3 tight sets
Lucie Safarova vs Madison Keys
Wow! This will be hard to predict! Lucie played pretty well lately and she’s favorite in this match, but Madison is so unpredictable. Safarova used to be unpredictable too, but she found her consistency this year. Madison is capable of beating top 10 opponents, but she can lose matches against low ranked players too. With her ball bashing game, she’s always dangerous. When she’s on, she’s almost unstoppable, but when she’s off, she’s really off. Her play style reminds me of Kvitova and Cirstea. Lucie can use her tricky left-handed shots and her slice serve – the biggest weapon of the lefties. If Lucie stay calm and if she keep using her shots to counter Madison’s power, she’ll win this. But it won’t be easy. Madison won’t go down quietly.
Prediction: Safarova in 3 sets
Caroline Garcia vs Mona Barthel
I really expected more from this two. Garcia showed some amazing form at clay. She won her first title in Bogota and she reaches QFs of Madrid. She beaten Kerber, Jankovic and Errani, and she pushed Radwanska and Serena to their limits. But after that, she just disappeared. I don’t know what happened to her. The same thing happened to Mona. She played great in 2013, and showed solid form this year, highlighted by her title in Bastad. But Mona is still struggling with her form. Both players are playing pretty aggressive, especially Mona. It think that here will be some good rallies and shots, but lot of errors too. I’m hoping that this two ladies will reach their full potential soon. I’m not sure who will win this match, but I believe that Mona will be little sharper in the end.
Prediction: Barthel in 3 tight sets
Alize Cornet vs Yulia Putintseva
Cornet had a good year. She beaten Serena TWICE, reached finals in Dubai and she won a title in Katowice, but she had some shocking loses too. Putintseva is solid player. She had some good results this year, but she’s struggling with her form lately. Cornet is playing consistent and aggressive tennis. She’s mixing game very well with her topspin forehand, solid backhand, slices and drop shots. Putintseva is patient and aggressive player, but she’s not really strong mentally. She’s still young, so she have a time to improve that. Cornet lost to the players ranked outside the top 100 this year, but I don’t think it’ll happen here. Cornet will be stronger in the important moments and she’ll win this match in two sets.
Prediction: Cornet in 2 sets
Zahlavova-Strycova df. Svitolina in 3 sets
Muguruza df. Pavlyuchenkova in 3 tight sets
Gajdosova df. Eguchi in 3 sets
Kudryavtseva df. Hozumi in 2 sets
Rodionova df. Gavrilova in 2 sets
Erakovic df. Namigata in 2 sets
McHale df. Arruabarrena in 2 sets
Lepchenko df. Rogowska in 2 sets
Shvedova df. Friedsam in 3 sets
Jang df. Han in 3 sets
Scheepers df. Begu in 3 sets
Gibbs df. Kolar in 2 sets
Kovinic df. Voracova in 3 sets
Minella df. Hsu in 2 tight sets
Bogdan df. Kulichkova in 3 tight sets
Beck df. Torro-Flor in 3 sets
Parmentier df. Peer in 2 sets
Doi df. Piter in 2 sets
Riske df. Larsson in 3 sets
Vinci df. Zhu in 2 easy sets
Bacsinszky df. Linette in 2 sets