Friday, 23 March 2012

WTA Miami 3rd Round: Previews & Predictions

Sam Stosur (6) v Chanelle Scheepers
Serena Williams
Both players scored bagels in their 2nd round matches; Stosur comfortably saw off Valeria Savinkyh, 6-4 6-0 meanwhile Scheepers had to fight back to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues in a lopsided 1-6 6-4 6-0 win.  Scheepers is on good form at the moment having also reached the third round in Indian Wells.  Stosur has been hot and cold in 2012 but I think she will hit top form in this one and come through comfortably.
Prediction - Stosur in 2 sets

Roberta Vinci (21) v Serena Williams (10)
Serena made her comeback to the WTA tour yesterday having been out of action since the Australian Open.  She played with heavy strapping on her right thigh in her straight sets win over Zhang Shuai but appears to be back to something near full fitness having injured her ankle in Brisbane.  Vinci has been putting together some respectable results this year, but is unlikely to advance here unless Serena has a very bad day at the office.  A rematch of the 2011 US Open final could be upon us...
Prediction - Serena in 2 sets

Kim Clijsters v Yanina Wickmayer (23)
Clijsters has come through two sticky tests in the first two rounds against Jarmila Gajdosova and Julia Goerges and faces another challenge in the form of her compatriot, Yanina Wickmayer.  Wickmayer comfortably overcame Marina Erakovic in the second round, but Clijsters offers a whole different challenge.  I watched their last encounter on the grass back in 2010 and I do not believe that Wickmayer holds any consistent weapons that can hurt Clijsters.
Prediction - Clijsters in 2 sets

Petra Cetkovska (29) v Caroline Wozniacki (4)
There have been a number of crazy comebacks recently but Petra Cetkovska pulled off the comebacks of all comebacks on Thursday to avenge a 6-0 4-0 deficit and get past Christina McHale, 0-6 7-5 6-1.  This win will no doubt of re-energised some confidence, which has gone missing in the Czech player's game for much of 2012.  The last time she played Wozniacki was in the New Haven final where the Dane ran away with the title in a 6-4 6-1 victory.  Cetkovska has proven when she is on her game, she can threaten the very best players; however her form has been too inconsistent in 2012 to suggest she can pull off the win in this one.
Prediction - Wozniacki in 2 sets

Sabine Lisicki
Li Na (8) v Iveta Benesova
Benesova had a dramatic win against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the 2nd round as she saved two match points in a 1-6 7-6 7-6 thriller.  It looked like another tight match would pass her by but she showed great determination to make the third round.  Another tough match lies in wait for the Czech player in the form of Li Na who has been quietly going about her business and notching up wins.  Li leads the head-to-head 4-0, but Benesova is playing better than ever so I fancy a tight three-setter with Li having the strength to pull out the win in the end.
Prediction - Li in 3 sets

Peng Shuai (17) v Sabine Lisicki (12)
This is a match between two of my favourite players who have failed to build on stellar 2011 seasons.  Both players have struggled with injuries but one will hope to reignite their season with at least a 4th round showing here in Miami.  Peng is the more consistent player, but Lisicki has the weapons so if she can play anywhere close to her best, she will have too much for Peng.  This happened in their last encounter where an on-song Lisicki tore past the Chinese player, 6-3 6-1 in the Birmingham semi-finals last year.
Prediction - Lisicki in 2 sets

Mona Barthel v Ekaterina Makarova
The only unseeded third round clash will see two of 2012's in-form players square off agains each other.  Both had crushing victories in the 2nd round; Barthel destroyed Jelena Jankovic, 6-0 6-3, meanwhile Makarova saw off a woefully out-of-sorts Nastia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1 6-2.  Barthel has been slaying the field so far this week but I think she will have a much more difficult test in Makarova who has proven her mettle on tour this year with a win over Serena Williams at the Australian Open... however i'm sticking by Mona ;-) 
Prediction - Barthel in 3 sets

Sloane Stephens v Maria Sharapova (2)
Sloane lost a heartbreaker at Indian Wells to Aleksandra Wozniak but has fought back valiantly this week as she came through two rounds of qualifying and survived Sara Errani in the last round.  She failed to serve the match out at the first time of asking, but had no such problems when the opportunity rose once more.  I'm pleased to see her get a big name and a chance to show her credentials against one of the very best  Sharapova was lacklustre yesterday as she lost the opening set of her 2nd round match to Shahar Peer, but that was just adjustment to the new surroundings.  I expect Sharapova to be at a much higher level in this match, but she will be made to work hard for the win...
Prediction - Sharapova in 2 tight sets

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