2009 Sony Ericsson Open – Nick’s Picks – Women’s Singles Quarterfinals
Nick’s Picks will be breaking down the Sony Ericsson Open everyday!. Follow along for predictions, picks, and insight into the tournament on the blog and on TennisWeek.com.
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Na Li (CHN)
Serena had a topsy-turvy match against Jie Zheng in the fourth round, as she led big early and then needed three sets to eventually finish her off. She now gets to face another of the best Chinese players – Na Li! Serena is looking to win this title for the sixth time in her amazing career.
Li is a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist, but has been dealing with injuries throughout her career. This is only her third appearance at the Sony Ericsson Open, and it is the second time she has reached the quarters.
Serena and Li have met twice before with each girl winning one of those matches. Li won their most recent battle, which took place last year at Stuttgart on the hard court. Li has already knocked out a couple of tough opponents, including last week’s winner at Indian Wells, Vera Zvonareva. She is a big girl who has excellent groundstrokes and has been one of the most successful players within China.
Li has the experience to beat Serena and has the confidence having already accomplished it last year. The problem is, Serena seems to always find an extra gear when she realizes she is in trouble. When she is playing her best, there is no one better and she has proven that time and time again. If Serena lets Li get in the match like she did with Zheng, then she will have issues. If she can just stay within her means and play her game, then she will win this match.
Nick’s Pick – S. Williams in 3 sets
Venus Williams (USA) vs. Iveta Benesova (CZE)
Venus is still not serving her best, but she managed to still beat Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. She only got in 53% of her first serves, and this comes the match after she only got 45% of her first serves in play. As the tournament progresses she is going to need to get that up over 60% to have a chance at the title.
Benesova took down Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open for the first time in her career. She comes into the tournament ranked #31 in the world and will most likely find herself moving up the rankings if she continues to play like this throughout the rest of 2009.
Venus is 2-0 against Benesova, with their most recent match coming in the Olympics last year. Benesova is a lefty with a solid two-handed backhand and a good first serve. She moves extremely well and hits the ball quite flat. Her second serve is attackable, but she doesn’t make too many mistakes out there! Like I said before, Venus needs to get her first serve percentage higher and she also needs to stay away from the unforced errors on the forehand side. If she plays like she did in the last two sets against Radwanska she will win this match. If she lets Benesova gain confidence then she could find herself playing from behind again. The match is on Venus’ racket and she knows it.
Nick’s Pick – V. Williams in 2 sets
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs. Sam Stosur (AUS)
Azarenka beat Agnes Szavay 6-2, 6-4 to claim a spot in the quarterfinals. The athletic Belarusian is ranked a career high of #10 in the world and deservedly so. She has already won two titles this year and she went to the semis last week in Indian Wells. She is playing some of the best tennis on the WTA Tour.
What can I say about Stosur? She follows up a great win over Dinara Safina with another good win over Amelie Mauresmo on Monday. She only faced one break point on her serve the entire match while breaking Mauresmo three times. This is her best singles performance so far in 2009 and I’m sure she doesn’t want it to end here!
Azarenka is 2-0 against Stosur, with one of those wins coming last year in Los Angeles. Stosur is a fantastic doubles player and is very athletic. She has a solid serve and is full of confidence. She has absolutely nothing to lose in this match and she has already shown she can beat the top players. Azarenka has to be careful here because Stosur will not be afraid of her whatsoever. The winner of this match is going to be determined by who makes the least unforced errors and I believe that is going to be Azarenka.
Nick’s Pick – Azarenka in 3 sets