Sunday, August 28, 2011
Breaking down the US Open women's draw
The big question on everyone's mind for the US Open women's draw was which of the top players would draw the Williams sisters in the early rounds. With Serena down at no. 28 and Venus being unseeded, there was a real possibility of some blockbuster clashes in the first week itself. The speculation can stop as we break down the draw quarter-by-quarter.
TOP QUARTER -
World no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, badly in need of a good showing in New York to justify her top ranking, opens up against an easy opponent – Nuria Llagostra Vives – but will then find the going tough against some big hitters. The Dane would be severely tested in the second round against Russian Elena Vesnina and in the last 32 by 29th seed Jarmila Ggajdosova – both big hitters capable of outhitting the Dane.
Wozniacki's round of 16 opponent could be the the unpredictable Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former champion and seeded 15 here, or the 21st seed Daniela Hantuchova – both with the ability to match the best on their day.
French Open champion Li Na, seeded sixth, is the Dane's projected quarter-final opponent. But Li has been struggling since her win in Paris and will need to be careful in her early matches in New York. The Chinese player opens against a talented teenager – Simona Halep – in round one. German Andrea Petkovic, coming off some big wins on the summer hardcourt series, will also be a handful in the last 16. The other seeds in this section are the struggling Estonian Kaia Kanepi, seeded 31, and Italy's Roberta Vinci, a winner of three titles this year but not known to be a big match player.
Upset Watch – Tamarine Tanasugarn to beat (31) Kaia Kanepi
Unseeded players to keep an eye on – Tamira Paszek, Kimiko-Date Krumm
Predicted Quarter-final – Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Andrea Petkovic
Winner – Andrea Petkovic
SECOND QUARTER -
Victoria Azarenka, at no. 4, is the top seed in this section. The Belarusian, whose grunts have been known to rival the planes flying overhead the US Open grounds, is the unfortunate top seed to have Serena Williams in her section.
Seeded 28, Williams opens up against a 19 year old Serb Bojanna Jovanavski, who should give her a good match and could meet Azarenka in round three. Serena has won her last 12 matches and is the consensus favourite in the women's draw this year. Ana Ivanovic is the scheduled fourth round opponent for the winner of the Azarenka-Williams clash. But the Serb will need to beat her own nerves and the in-form Petra Cetkovska, New Haven finalist this week, in the second round to reach the second week. 23rd seed Shahar Peer is also in Ivanovic's section.
Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone is the other top 8 seed in this section. The Italian, a firm favourite with the New York crowd, reached the quarters last here and could repeat her 2010 performance – one obstacle getting there will be the winner of the third round clash between 11th seed Jelena Jankovic and 17th seed Anastasia Pavyulenchkova, slated to be a future Slam winner by some. Spanish volleyer (no, that's not an oxymoron) Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez, seeded 32nd, is Schivone's projected third round opponent in what could be a fun match to watch.
First round matches to watch out for - (23) Shahar Peer vs. Sania Mirza
Potential matches to look out for -
(4) Victoria Azarenka vs. Rebecca Marino
(7) Francesca Schiavone vs. Mirjana Lucic
(11) Jelena Jankovic vs. Jelena Dokic
Upset Watch – Ksenia Pervak to beat (16) Ana Ivanovic
Unseeded players to keep an eye out on – Sloane Stephens
Predicted Quarter-Final – Serena Williams vs. Jelena Jankovic
Winners – Serena Williams
THIRD QUARTER -
3rd seed Maria Sharapova and 5th seed Petra Kvitova could replay their Wimbledon final as early as the quarter-finals here in New York. Sharapova, winner in Cincinnati, plays the talented Brit teenager Heather Watson in the first round in what could be a dangerous match if the Russian's serve fails her. 13th seed Shuai Peng, coming off an injury, slumping German Julia Georges, seeded 19th, and pretty Italian Flavia Pennetta, seeded 26th, are also in Sharapova's section.
Kvitova, capable of playing Wimbledon-winning-tennis one day and first-round-losing tennis the next, will need to be wary of Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round. Radwanska, who won the Carlsbad title last month, will open against her younger sister Urszula who qualified for the event. 20th seed Yanina Wickmayer, a ball-striker as good fine as Belgian chocolate, and 27th seed Lucie Safarova, now the ex-girlfriend of ATP player Thomas Berdych, are also in this section.
First round matches to watch out for - Jill Craybass (oldest player in the draw at 360 vs. Madison Keys (at 16, the youngest)
Upset Watch – Aravane Rezai to beat (26) Flavia Pennetta
Unseeded players to keep an eye on – Melanie Oudin, Sorana Cirstea
Predicted Quarter-final – Maria Sharapova vs. Agiezska Radwanska
Winner – Sharapova
FOURTH QUARTER -
2010 finalist Vera Zvonerava, seeded 2nd, is the highest ranked player in this section. The Russian is not playing as well as last year and will be under pressure to defend those runner-up points. Still she should easily beat 30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues to make the last 16.
The Russian's scheduled fourth round opponent is the 14th seed Dominika Cibulkova – but many people, me included, will pick Sabine Lisicki to get through this section. The German is seeded 22nd and coming off a title win on Saturday in Dallas.
She could play an unseeded Venus Williams in the second round in what could be a big-serving blockbuster. But Williams who has played only 3 events all year due to various injuries, comes into the Open with no hardcourt match practice and it might be too much to expect her to beat an in-form Lisicki.
France's Marion Bartoli, seeded 8th, and Australian Sam Stosur, seeded 9th, will likely fight for the last quarter-final spot. Bartoli will have to first deal with an in-form American teen in Christina McHale in the second round while Stosur, who rebounded well on the hardcourt stretch after a forgetful first half of 2011, will find the going tough against 24th seed Nadia Petrova in round three. Another Russian – the 24th seed Maria Kirilenko – is also in this section.
First round matches to watch out for - (25) Maria Kirilenko vs. Ekaterina Makarova
Potential matches to look out for - (24) Nadia Petrova vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Unseeded players to keep an eye on – Coco Vandeweghe, Irina Falconi, Laura Robson
Predicted Quarter-final – Sabine Liscki vs. Marion Bartoli
Winner – Lisciki
Serena Williams beats Petkovic
Sharapova beats Lisicki
Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova
Posted by Haresh at 9:43 AM