2011 Sony Ericsson Open – Nick’s Picks – Women’s Singles Semifinals
Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER)
Sharapova fought her tail off to beat Alexandra Dulgheru in the quarters, winning 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5) to advance to the semis in Miami for the third time in her career. She has been to the finals twice in Miami and lost both times. She is playing like the Maria of old and if she continues this way, it will just be a matter of time before she is back in the top ten and winning big tournaments again.
Petkovic was losing early to Jankovic in the quarters, and then the rain came and gave her the break she needed. She lost the first set and bounced back to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. She has now beat the #1 and #6 players in the world in back-to-back rounds and she doesn’t fear anyone. A win here would put her in the finals of Miami for the first time in her career.
Sharapova and Petkovic have met twice before and each has one a match. Their last meeting was in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open and Petkovic won that in straight sets. Petkovic is a free swinger who really plays offensively. She also has a great personality off of the court and the fans really enjoy watching her play. She moves well and her confidence is never rattled. She will try to move Sharapova from side-to-side and she will also jump on any of Maria’s short serves. If Sharapova serves well, she will be in good shape, if not, she will be in trouble. This match is going to go the distance because both women are playing really well and I have to give a slight edge to Sharapova because of her competitiveness and her experience.
Nick’s Pick – Sharapova in 3 sets
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Zvonareva played one of, if not, her best matches of the tournament against Radwanska in the quarters and she has really learned to how step her game up for the big points. She has been to the semis in Miami once before (2008) and is looking for her first finals appearance here. If she wins the title, she will regain the #2 ranking in the world from Clijsters.
Azarenka moved past Kim Clijsters in the quarters and is looking to get back to the finals for the second time in her career. Clijsters didn’t look like her normal self in the match, but Azarenka didn’t let that effect her one bit. She won this tournament in 2009, and that is clearly the best title of her career thus far. There is no doubt that when Azarenka is on, she is one of the top women in the game, she just needs to play at the same high level week in and week out.
Zvonareva is 6-2 against Azarenka and she has won the last two times they have played. These girls know each other very well so their will be no surprises out there when they play. Azarenka can really pound the ball from both sides, she moves well, has a solid serve and will attack any defensive balls or weak second serves. She’s proven she can win this tournament before, and she definitely has the confidence to do it again.
Zvonareva started out this tournament not looking her best, but in her last couple of matches she has turned it up and she is playing extremely well now. She is mentally tough, has great groundstrokes, and her movement is some of the best in the world. At times, she has issues with her serve, but it seems like every time she gets broken she is able to break right back. When she has it all working, she is very difficult to beat.
I look for this match to go three sets, and I have to give the edge to Zvonareva because of their past matches and her movement.
Nick’s Pick – Zvonareva in 3 sets