By Patrick Hinton @TWMasterAce
With the pullout of Maria Sharapova, Sara Errani was given a quarter and without further fanfare, here is a look at each quarter. Numbers and letters (F = floater) in parthensis are where the players were in my WTA contenders and floaters article.
Top 4 players – (1) Serena Williams, (F)Angelique Kerber, Kirsten Flipkens and (10) Sloane Stephens
This section should not be difficult for S Williams. However, we could have a Labor Day battle between S Williams and Stephens, which would be a rematch of the 2013 Australian Open quarterfinals. Sloane recently fell in the quarter-final in New Haven against former No. 1. Caroline Wozniacki. Also, featured players below the top four in this quarter are V Williams, 2000-2001 champion, Jamie Hampton and the return of Kaia Kanepi, who has been MIA since her quarter final loss to this year’s Wimbledon finalist, Sabine Lisicki. She has not played any tune up events, and it will be a miracle if she makes it pass the first round.
Predicted quarterfinal – S Williams vs V Williams with S Williams advancing to the semifinals
Top 4 players – (4) Agnieszka Radwanska, (3)Na Li, (8) Jelena Jankovic and Sabine Lisicki
This section is the most difficult quarter. The featured players below the top four are Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who double faulted her way out of a semifinal place in New Haven, (F) Sorana Cirstea, who made the finals of Toronto, Ekaterina Makarova, Laura Robson, who eliminated Kim Clijsters and Li last year and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Interesting that Pauline Parmentier gave her wildcard to Virginie Razzano, who made the semifinals at Carlsbad.
Predicted quarterfinal – A Radwanska vs Jankovic with A Radwanska advancing to the semifinals
Top 4 players – (F) Sara Errani, (9) Caroline Wozniacki, Roberta Vinci and (F)Maria Kirilenko
This section is the one where someone that is not known could make a breakthrough to the semifinals as the heavy hitters are not located here. Featured players below the top four in this quarter are (F) Simona Halep, who has won 3 titles in 5 weeks after the French Open, Elena Vesnina, who Pete Bodo is predicting to make the semifinals, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2004 champion and the ever dangerous Lucie Safarova.
Predicted quarterfinal – Wozniacki vs Halep with Wozniacki advancing to the semifinals
Top 4 players – (2) Victoria Azarenka, (6) Petra Kvitova, (7) Samantha Stosur and Ana Ivanovic
This section is the most aggressive quarter. The featured players below the top four are Dominika Cibulkova, 2013 Stanford winner, Nadia Petrova, Andrea Petkovic and Varvara Lepchenko. Also, returning back to the tour is Aleksandra Wozniak, who lost a tight 3 setter against Ekaterina Makarova in New Haven.
Predicted quarterfinal – Stsour vs Azarenka with Azarenka advancing to the semifinals
S Williams vs A Radwanska – In their last meeting at Toronto, A Radwanska played a tight 2 setter but S Williams was tougher on the bigger points. At 2012 Wimbledon, A Radwanska forced a 3rdset once S Williams got nervous leading by a set and a break. If A Radwanska was to pull off the upset, she must win the crucial points.
Wozniacki vs Azarenka – In their last meeting at Cincinnati, Wozniacki played more aggressive than expected but lost in straight set as Azarenka played the crucial points better. Wozniacki did show improvements but in order for her to win, she must continue to be aggressive.
Predicted final – S Williams vs Azarenka
S Williams vs Azarenka – In three finals played in 2013, Azarenka has won two. Azarenka wins were at Doha and Cincinnati with S Williams winning in Rome. In last year’s title match, Azarenka rallied from a set down to lead 5-3 in the final set but could not close the match. In their last meeting in Cincinnati, Azarenka repeated the same story as last year United States Open but stepped her game up when S Williams was serving for the title and the winning point in the match, in my opinion, was the volley Azarenka made in the deciding tiebreaker to earn her second match point. A key point in that tiebreak was S Williams missed a backhand long as she had the open court as Azarenka was pulled wide and if I recall, would have given S Williams 2 match points. S Williams must get cheap points on her serve and footwork must improve. Azarenka must be returning well and stay mentally focused for the entire match.
Predicted champion – Victoria Azarenka