Doha Monday: Vinci Vs Pironkova On Tap
Published February 09, 2014 12:11
DOHA, Qatar - Roberta Vinci aims for her first win of the year against an in-form Tsvetana Pironkova as the Qatar Total Open gets underway. Others on the schedule include Americans Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams.
Monday, First Round
 Roberta Vinci (ITA #14) vs. [Q] Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL #52)
Head-to-head: Vinci leads 3-0
Roberta Vinci would appear to be a big favorite against Tsvetana Pironkova, in that she is ranked almost 40 places higher and is 3-0 in their series. However, the match may be a toss-up, considering how their seasons have gone so far.
Pironkova is 10-2 in 2014, including 10-0 in qualifying and main draw play at Premier events. That included a run to her first WTA title in Sydney as a qualifier in which she recorded three Top 10 wins. A defeat of Vinci would be her 18th Top 20 win and would improve her to 4-1 in such matches this year.
As for Vinci, she has fallen in the first round in all four of the tournaments she has played this year - with three of those losses coming against lower-ranked foes.
 Sloane Stephens (USA #18) vs. [Q] Petra Cetkovska (CZE #134)
Head-to-head: Stephens leads 2-0
Though she is clearly the favorite against Petra Cetkovska, Sloane Stephens should not expect an easy Doha opener based on her series with the Czech. Both meetings came at Wimbledon and both went three sets, including last year's third round encounter that saw Stephens lose the second set 6-0 before rebounding.
Stephens' only previous outing this year was a fourth round showing at the Australian Open, as a wrist injury kept her out of Sydney. She is aiming for her 10th straight win against those outside the Top 100, with her last such loss coming versus No.113 Bethanie Mattek-Sands at Charleston last April.
Cetkovska, who missed the Australian Open with a left foot injury, is seeking her first WTA main draw victory since last September in Tashkent. An upset of Stephens would improve her to 13-13 against Top 20 opponents.
Venus Williams (USA #48) vs. [Q] Petra Martic (CRO #104)
Head-to-head: First meeting
Venus Williams' season got off to a terrific start when she reached her first WTA final in over a year in Auckland. However, that was followed by a disappointing first round loss at the hands of Ekaterina Makarova at the Australian Open. She will try to put that behind her with her first appearance at this event since 2008. A triumph over Petra Martic would set up a compelling second round clash with fellow former Wimbledon winner and No.3 seed Petra Kvitova.
Croatia's second-ranked player, Martic is looking for her first WTA main draw win since last September in Québec City.