Madrid Preview (19th May 03) by AidanM
Budapest Preview (14th April 03) by AidanM
Alicia Molik heads to the heart and soul of Hungary - Budapest, in her first red clay court tournament of 2003. Alicia is the 3rd seed behind Majoli (who has Charleston pts to defend this week) and Serna (coming off a brilliant win in Estoril last week). Molik did not play singles last week because her Sarastosa final meant she had to withdrawal from the qualies.
R1: Martina Sucha
Alicia thrashed Martina 6-1, 6-2 at Hobart this year en route to her first career title. Ironically, 12 months ago it was Sucha who won Hobart for her first career title but injury has seen her downfall. Molik should be able to win this match in 2 sets at least, but the first set might be close as both players have to adjust to European clay.
In the 2nd round, Alicia could face the following two players:
1. Emmanuelle Gagliardi
This Swiss player has been in good form of late. Having made the fourth round of Indian Wells (beating Panova, Lucic and Black) and making the semis last week in Estoril (upsetting Grande in R1). However the left hander has still been relatively inconsistent and her serve can be attackable. Alicia's serve should see her through in 2 or 3 sets.
2. Stephanie Cohen-Aloro
Not many people know about this French youngster, but they won't have to wait long. Cohen Aloro stunned Panova in Tokyo, dumped Pistolesi out of Paris and beat Schett in Indian Wells. Last week she made the QF of Estoril before Serna got the better of her. Alicia will have to fight hard against this talented player but the more experienced Alicia should scrap through in 2 or 3 sets.
QF: 2 Main opponants stand in Alicia's path for glory
1. Virginie Razzano
Razzano has yet to fulfill her talent on the professinal circuit but after last week's SF appearance in Estoril, a title might be on the agenda. Razzano has been known for a very weak serve with arrays of double faults occurring at crucial times in her matches, however with recent wins over Raymond and Medina Garrigues, this habit may be changing. If Alicia were to play her, the Aussie's power and confidence should manifest her a 2 set win.
2. Rita Kuti-Kis
This Hungarian has virtually slipped down the ranks and is making a brief appearance in her home city of Budapest. Many will remember her for spoiling Jelena's 2000 Australian Open campaign, but little remember that Jelena had revenge over the Hungarian at the Rome 2001. Kuti-Kis would have lacked match play but perhaps home crowd motivation could see her upset a weary Razzano. Nevertheless, Molik's thunderous service and sharp volleys should slaughter the Hungarian, if she were to get this far.
It would be no surprise to see Alicia in the SF of this event, considering she has been in 2 finals already this year. Her possible opponants are as follows:
This former French Open winner has to defend Charleston points this week but she has instead come to a tournament which offers lower points. Majoli is ranked 30 this week, however it is highly likely that she will fall outside the top 50 after this tournament. Iva has had an average year by her standard but she has been impressive in her last 2 tournaments. If Alicia were to play Iva in the SF, her serve must be working. Alicia notched an amazing 17 aces against Majoli in the Sarastosa SF, en route to a victory. Molik knows how to beat Majoli, she just needs to reapply the tactics before.
2. Klara Koukalova
The Czech girl has been topsy-turvey ever since she beat an injured Monica Seles at the Australian Open. She is a natural clay courter however good results have been few and far between. Klara is a steady player, not flashy by any means. Alicia will have to be very aggressive in this match because the Czech is capable of producing passing shots. If they were to play, the Czech would be capable of an upset.
3. Jelena Kostanic
This Croatian loves clay courts and is a former Aussie Open junior winner. She stretched the famous Jelena (Dokic) to 3 sets in Strasbourg 2002. Her game is based on power, however she can be inconsistent. If she were to upset Majoli in the round of 16 and make the SF, Molik's skills will bring a 2 set truimph.
FINAL? This is a very likely possiblity and a 3rd final (4th if you include the Hopman Cup) out of 5 tournaments would be some accomplishment. These are her likely opponants.
1. Magui Serna(2)
The Spaniard won Estoril last week, beating some quality players easily. She is a definite clay court natural and has also made the Paris QF and Indian Wells fourth round this year. Serna would be favourite to reach the final in the bottom half of the draw, however Grande (who won Casablanca) fell at the first hurdle in Estoril, so nothing can be taken for granted. Alicia and Magui both possess big serves and solid groundstrokes however Alicia is more fitter than Serna yet Serna has better court craft. Whatever happens, this match should eventuate into an entertaining final.
2. Iveta Benesova
This attractive Czech will need to find her form fast if she is to make the final here. Defending champion Muller should not pose a threat in round one but no one knows who will be more motivated. Moreover, players such as Nagyova and Antonella Serra-Zanetti are definately players which Benesova can defeat if she is having a good day. Molik beat Benesova in 3 sets this year in Hobart, so a similar result is likely if these two darlings were to play in the decider.
3. Silvija Talaja
It would be a surprise if this former top 30 player could advance to the final, but her good form lately will be her major asset she carries into Budapest. If Molik were to play her, Alicia will have to forget her 6-0, 6-0 loss to her at the Aus Open 2001, but rather remember her 3 set win over Talaja at the Aus Open 2000. Whatever happens, this match is very unpredictable.
4. Petra Mandula
This tall Hungarian player is a threat to make the final only because she has a home crowd advantage. As the top Hungarian, Petra will be keen for a good showing. It is likely that she will beat Torrens-Valero in R1, before the battle of the egos occur when she faces Talaja. Mandula got double bagelled by Clijsters at this year's Australian Open (in 33 mins) however on clay she is a much more recognisable force as evident in her 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Jelena Dokic in the French Open 2001. If Alicia were to play Petra, she would have to constantly apply pressure by making various moves into the net.
R1: Molik(3) def Sucha 6-4, 6-2
R2: Molik(3) def Cohen-Aloro 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
QF: Molik(3) def Razzano(5) 6-0, 6-3
SF: Molik(3) def Majoli(1) 7-6, 6-2
F: Molik(3) def Mandula 6-3, 6-2
GOOD LUCK ALICIA AND BRING HOME YOUR 2ND CAREER TITLE!
Dokic Preview (24th March 03) by AidanM
Alicia Molik has been one of the stand out players for 2003. However he ranking in the 90's does not justify her brilliant year. Molik officially has only lost 2 matches this year.
1. The Hopman Cup Final, Alicia fell 6-2, 6-3 to World No 1 - Serena Williams, who is undefeated this year.
2. In a challenger (first match in months after the injury she sustained in the Aussie Open), she fell 6-4, 6-2 to Kurhajcova in a challenger.
This year, Molik has had wins over Benesova, Zvonareva, Hantuchova (twice), Bedanova, Schett, Likhovtseva, Farina Elia, Stebotnik, Frazier and Sucha.
In the Nasdaq-100 Open 2003:
R1: Defeated Schett 6-7, 6-2, 7-6
R2: Defeated Hantuchova(5) 2-6, 7-5, 6-0
R3: Defeated Likhovtseva(28) 7-6, 6-3
Molik has been playing really well in Miami this year, having three quality wins over players who have all made a QF of a Grand Slam. Molik's first round win over Schett was pivotal in many respects. It was played at night on the Main Stadium court, so for Alicia to win that in front of a packed house - it certainly gave her confidence.
Molik's win over Hantuchova will probably go down in her career as one of the most remarkable. Not only was she playing the current world number eight, but she was down 6-2, 5-2 and two match points. Molik beat Hantuchova in the Hopman Cup in January, however that was an exhibition and Alicia had the benefit of her home crowd and Hantuchova lack of match practice. On this occassion, Alicia was the one with lack of match practice and she did not have the home crowd.
Molik's nerves were as hard as steel as she quite extraordinary won the last 11 games of the match, to win 2-6, 7-5, 6-0, totally shocking the Slovakian and registering her first 'official' top 10 scalp.
In the third round, Alicia could have received a let down. However played on the noisy court 7, Molik was able to close out the match against 28th seed - Likhovtseva 7-6, 6-3, and her success is rewarded with an exciting match up with Jelena Dokic.
Dokic's performance at the Nasdaq-100 Open 2003:
R2: Defeated Kuznetsova 7-6, 6-1
R3: Defeated Dechy(21) 6-3, 6-2
It is evident that Jelena is making a resurgence of her own this week, beating two in form players. This was the first time Dokic had won two consecutive matches in a row since last year's Princess Cup. Dokic is a powerful player who strives on confidence, she will be having plenty of that coming into this round of 16 clash.
Jelena and Alicia were former team mates for Australia's Fed Cup team, however Jelena left Australia in 2001 due to trouble with the media. Jelena and Alicia are friends, but not the best of then. They haven't played doubles together since their Fed Cup days. Molik is a type of player who can give Dokic problems. She has a big serve and has the ability to serve and volley. Dokic likes to play players where she can dictate the points, Molik - will probably not let her do much of that.
Here is their record:
2001 Birmingham Grass R2: Molik defeated Dokic 4-6 6-3 6-3
Dokic was the second seed here, but was perhaps low on morale because of her heartbreaking loss to Mandula at the French. Molik strives on grass, so this result wasn't so unexpected.
Dokic and Molik also have played each other numerous times when they were young. These were at ITF Tournaments and Juniors. Molik actually won the majority of those matches, however she is 2 years older than Jelena - which gave her an advantage back then.
This really is a toss-up between two of my favourite players. I'm going to pick Dokic on the basis of two reasons.
1) I think she will be a bit more motivated than Molik because she really needs a breakthrough tournament this year, whilst Molik might be satisfied with her results already.
2) Dokic's 6-3 first set over Dechy indicated she is giving more effort in her first sets which is a big factor towards her confidence. Meanwhile Alicia lost the first sets against Schett (6-7) and Hantuchova (2-6) and struggled for the first set against Likhovtseva (7-6). So I think Dokic's more determined start will get her through.
Prediction: JELENA DOKIC(9) will beat Alicia Molik 7-5, 4-6, 6-4