The play kicks off in Doha Sunday, commencing the first WTA 1000 tournament of the year. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. Who will win?
WTA Doha Predictions Day 1
Sorana Cirstea vs Mayar Sherif
Head-to-head: first meeting
Cirstea has enjoyed a strong start to 2022, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, notching wins over Petra Kvitova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, or Marketa Vondrousova, and returning to the Top 30 for the first time since July 2014. Standing in her way will be Egyptian wild card Mayar Sherif. The 25-year-old broke through onto the main tour last year but is still looking for her first win in 2022. Sherif has only won one set in four matches this year. Cirstea should certainly be the favorite and I expect her to confirm that in the match.
Prediction: Cirstea in 2
Stefanie Voegele vs Kaja Juvan
Head-to-head: first meeting
A clash of two qualifiers pits the experienced Voegele and young Juvan against each other in the first round here. Voegele has had a mixed start to the season, qualifying for the Australian Open, losing the next four matches, and now qualifying past Martina Trevisan and Arantxa Rus for the main draw here. Juvan is coming off a strong week in St. Petersburg where she qualified to reach the second round. The 21-year-old has qualified again with wins over Maryna Zanevska and Anna Danilina. This match is going to be close but I think the Swiss will have the edge here.
Prediction: Voegele in 3
Amanda Anisimova vs Betriz Haddad Maia
Head-to-head: Anisimova 1-0 Haddad Maia
Anisimova made a big splash to start the year, winning a lead-up WTA 250 in Melbourne before reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, including one of the best matches of the tournament against Naomi Osaka. The 20-year-old did not translate the form to Dubai though, where she lost to fellow American Madison Brengle in the first qualifying round. Her opponent is qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia, who advanced past Kamila Rakhimova and Kristina Kucova. This match is essentially in Anisimova’s hands. If she brings it, there is little Haddad Maia can do to stop her but if she is misfiring, the qualifier can take advantage.
Prediction: Anisimova in 2
Yulia Putintseva vs Victoria Azarenka
Head-to-head: Azarenka 1-0 Putintseva
Putintseva is only in her third tournament of the year, coming in with a first-round loss in Melbourne and failed to qualify in Dubai after a three-set battle against Marketa Vondrousova. She plays 12th seed Victoria Azarenka, who had a more impressive run to the fourth round in Melbourne but a first-round loss to eventual finalist Veronika Kudermetova in Dubai. The two faced each other last year in the odd Grampians Trophy warm-up event in Melbourne that was reserved for players who were forced to quarantine due to a positive Covid test. The tournament famously did not have a final and employed a supertiebreak after the first round, in which Azarenka defeated Putintseva 11-9. The 32-year-old has found success in Doha before, winning it in 2013, reaching the final in 2015 and is now defending a semifinal from last year. Azarenka should be a firm favorite here.
Prediction: Azarenka in 2
Main Photo from Getty.