2011 Sony Ericsson Open – Nick’s Picks – Women’s Singles Round 2
Sam Stosur (AUS) vs. Jie Zheng (CHN)
Stosur took an early loss at Indian Wells, as she was knocked out by former world #1 Dinara Safina in straight sets. She is only 7-7 on the year and this would be as good as time as any for her to pick up her game and make a big splash. She has been a quarterfinalist the last two years in Miami and she should definitely be playing late into the second week again.
Zheng comes into the tournament ranked #59 in the world, but she has lost early the last three tournaments she has played in. She is a former Wimbledon and Aussie Open semifinalist and she has also been to the quarters of Miami before.
Stosur and Zheng have played twice before with each winning a match. They last met in Los Angeles in 2009 and Stosur won that in three sets. Zheng picked up a nice win over Sorana Cirstea in the opening round, but this will be a tougher match. Stosur is comfortable at the net, has the top serve in the game and moves extremely well. Zheng will try to combat this with her fantastic side-to-side movement, her early flat groundstrokes and her solid play. I just don’t think she has enough against the heavy hitting from Stosur.
Nick’s Pick – Stosur in 2 sets
Melanie Oudin (USA) vs. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)
Oudin beat Julia Goerges in the opening round in straight sets and she is looking to string consecutive victories for the first time in 2011. Entering the tournament she had only a 4-9 record on the year, so she could use some big wins to get her confidence back.
Hantuchova won the title in Pattaya City in February, beating Vera Zvonareva and Sara Errani along the way. She lost in the second round of Indian Wells to Safina in straight sets and her best result in Miami came last year when she reached the fourth round before falling to Serena Williams.
Hantuchova is 2-0 against Oudin and beat her in Miami back in 2009 in the first round. Oudin plays one way: she hits the ball hard and flat and plays very aggressive. She will take it to Hantuchova from the outset and will have the American crowd behind her. On the other side, Hantuchova plays with variety, isn’t afraid of approaching the net, and has fantastic groundstrokes. She serves the ball well and will move Oudin around the court. I see this match going three sets, and I have to give a small edge to Hantuchova because of her consistency from both wings.
Nick’s Pick – Hantuchova in 3 sets
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) vs. Dinara Safina (RUS)
Safina is playing much better as of late, reaching the fourth round at Indian Wells and beating Hantuchova and Stosur along the way. She picked up a good win over Jelena Dokic in the first round of Miami and now faces someone she knows extremely well in Zvonareva. Should be an interesting test for the former world #1.
Zvonareva comes into the tournament with a 14-5 record on the year and she also won the title in Doha where she beat four good players (Cibulkova, Hantuchova, Jankovic and Wozniacki). She then lost early at Indian Wells to Cibulkova so I am sure she will be looking to rebound in Miami. Her best result in Miami came back in 2008 when she reached the semis before losing to Jankovic in straight sets.
Safina is 6-5 against Zvonareva in her career, but Zvonareva won their only match in 2010 in straight sets. They met once before in Miami (2008) and Zvonareva won that 7-5, 6-4. These two women know each other extremely well and there will be no surprises between them. Safina is looking to prove to everyone that she belongs back in the top 10, and a win here would go a long way. She has a new attitude and you know that she has the game to compete. Can she get it together mentally though to beat someone as tough as Zvonareva?
The difference in this match will be Zvonareva’s footwork and movement. She will be able to get to more balls than Safina would like and this will cause Safina to over-hit. I look for a tight match because of the way Safina has been play as of late, but I have to give the edge to Zvonareva.
Nick’s Pick – Zvonareva in 3 sets
Kim Clijsters (BEL) vs. Anastasiya Yakimova (BLR)
Clijsters was forced to retire in the fourth round of Indian Wells due to a shoulder injury and that is still a question heading into this match. We all know what she is capable of when healthy, but that shoulder could be an issue in Miami.
Yakimova qualified into the main draw in Miami and then won her first round match against Alla Kudryavtseva in straight sets. She just won a challenger tournament in the Bahamas last week so that should give her some confidence against Clijsters.
This is the first career meeting between Yakimova and Clijsters. This match comes down to the health of Clijsters’ shoulder. If she is healthy, than she will advance with not many issues, if she isn’t and the shoulder is causing problems than Yakimova will jump all over her. I am going to be keeping a keen eye on this match to see just how much that injury bothers her.
Nick’s Pick – Clijsters in 2 sets