by Karen

First of all huge apologies for abandoning you during the month of February.  So many wonderful things happened during that month that I have been cursed out to no ends by our many readers for not providing updates.  Most of this has been because Venus Williams has won a title.  At the young age of 33 years old, Venus delivered a bagel in the final to Alize Cornet, who took down World No. 1, Serena Williams in straight sets in the semi-finals.  Many of us Venus fans have now taken to calling Dubai the New Wimbledon.
I promised a pictorial of Venus to celebrate her win in Dubai and I always live up to my promises.

Pictures are courtesy of ESPN, and CNN.

The beginning of March marks the return of March Madness in tennis. This is when there are 2 big Premier tournaments on the agenda for the women.  These are the BNP Paribas Open and the Sony Open. There was some amount of speculation that World No.1, Serena Williams would return to the BNP Paribas Open this year having regard to her comments after Nelson Mandela’s death and the fact that her name appeared on the list of entries.  For the first time in awhile though Serena actually issued a statement that she woudl not be participating in this year’s BNP Paribas Open.  This makes the Spin team believe that there may have been discussions on both sides for Serena’s participation in this year’s tourney.  I have mixed feelings about Serena’s participation.  I am sure that at some level she did think seriously about participating, but it must have been terrifically hard for her to think to herself, what if I step out on the court and the booing starts again.  I think in this case she felt it would be better to err on the side of caution and just not participate in the event. 
That being said Master Ace has provided his picks on the draw and while he has not fleshed out the draw just yet, it is interesting what he has come up with in terms of the quarters onwards.  I have not had a chance to look at the draw but I am going to say that perhaps Master Ace has a point. I doubt however that Halep will get to the final and I don’t think that Sharapova will defend her title. 

Ace’s WTA Singles Predictions

QF 1: Li vs Cibulkova
QF 2: Sharapova vs Ivanovic
QF 3: Halep vs Azarenka
QF 4: Jankovic vs A Radwanska

SF 1: Cibulkova vs Sharapova
SF 2: Halep vs Jankovic

F: Sharapova vs Halep

W: Sharapova

Ace’s WTA Doubles Predictions

Martina Hingis is trying to make another comeback in doubles after her efforts with Daniela Hantuchova in 2013. This time, she is playing with Sabine Lisicki, whom she coaches in singles for the moment. This draw is full of good teams led by the new number 1 team Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng. The defending champions, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, are in the draw as the number 2 seeds. There are two teams that have won two titles so far but most people will not guess them. Teams are Monica Niculescu/Klara Zakopalova (both players won the first two singles events in Florianopolis – Niculescu 2013 and Zakopalova 2014) and Alla Kudryavtseva/Anastasia Rodionova. The reigning Australian Open champions are the 3rd seeds in Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, Besides Hingis/Lisicki, the other wildcards are Svetlana Kuznetsova/Samantha Stosur, Andrea Petkovic/Sloane Stephens amd Madison Keys/Alison Riske. For some reason on both tours, Indian Wells has a tendency to get some good pairings.
Ace’s Predictions

SF 1: Hsieh/Peng vs Kristina Mladenovic/Flavia Pennetta
SF 2: Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebotnik vs Cara Black/Sania Mirza
F: Hsieh/Peng vs Black/Mirza
W: Black and Mirza will win the title to jump start their year after getting off to a slow start. This team won Tokyo and Beijing in 2013
The WTA finally has a Draw Challenge and the first one is now up and running for the BNP Paribas Open.  Feel free to make your picks.  I think this is an excellent venture for the WTA as it should encourage fans to not only watch more tennis but to root for their favourite players in the draw. 
I am hopeful that I will get to see lots of matches during the next 10 days and I hope everyone will participate in the WTA Draw Challenge. 

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