Sunday, 25 March 2012

WTA Miami 4th Round: Previews & Predictions

Marion Bartoli
Victoria Azarenka (1) v Dominika Cibulkova (16)

Azarenka waltzed into the third round with another dominant display over the young Brit, Heather Watson.  She will face Cibulkova who rather surprisingly swept past Zheng Jie, 6-2 6-0.  Zheng won just nine points on her serve and was broken at every opportunity by the Slovakian.  Azarenka and Cibulkova faced off in Miami last year where Cibulkova took the first set, but this was where Azarenka started to show her improved mental toughness as she came through in 3 sets.  Cibulkova is a difficult opponent and when she gets on a hot streak she can be difficult to stop.  She has caused many upsets in her time, but Azarenka seems unstoppable at the moment so no upsets in this one...
Prediction - Azarenka in 2 sets

Maria Kirilenko (22) v Marion Bartoli (7)
Bartoli has fought through two difficult matches and overcame Simona Halep in the third round displaying her tremendous fighting spirit to fend off a host of set points to win in straight sets, 6-4 7-6.  Kirilenko had a surprisingly straightforward win against Ksenia Pervak, 6-2 6-1 as she continues her impressive recent form, which saw her to the quarter-finals of Indian Wells.  I think this will be a tight match with both in good form, but I have to give the edge to Bartoli.  She has really stepped up her game this year in the sense that she has been winning a lot of matches that would normally pass her by.  I think this will be an entertaining and lengthy match with a bit of drama thrown in for good measure!
Prediction - Bartoli in 3 tight sets

Venus Williams v Ana Ivanovic (15)

Venus Williams came through a total nailbiter against Aleksandra Wozniak in the third round, 4-6 6-4 7-6.  She saved a match point as Wozniak choked her chances away to finish off this match.  Venus looked sluggish throughout the match and made a ton of errors with her new ultra-aggressive gameplan; however she showed her usual fight as Wozniak crumbled with the opportunity of one of the biggest wins in her career.  Ivanovic produced a solid performance in the third round to beat Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2 7-6.  Venus and Ivanovic last faced off in Eastbourne where Venus strolled to victory in straight sets.  Ivanovic is starting to make significant strides forward and the injury she picked up in Indian Wells does not seem to be torubling her so I think she can end the Venus comeback here...
Prediction - Ivanovic in 3 sets

Garbine Muguruza Blanco v Agnieszka Radwanska (5)

Muguruza Blanco continued her superb run of form as she held strong to get past Flavia Pennetta, 6-2 1-6 7-6.  As a wildcard and playing in her first WTA main draw, she has managed to beat two seasoned pros in Zvonareva and Pennetta, but her next challenge will be her toughest yet.  Radwanska has looked much stronger in Miami compared to her early rounds in Indian Wells.  She was in total control in her third round win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa.  Radwanska wil be wary of Muguruza Blanco as little is known of the wildcard Spaniard, but I predict she will progress in straight sets...
Prediction - Radwanska in 2 sets

Sam Stosur (6) v Serena Williams (10)
Caroline Wozniacki
The most anticipated of the 4th round matches pits Stosur and Serena together in a rematch of the dramatic 2011 US Open final where Stosur produced the performance of her life to win her first ever Grand Slam title.  Stosur has since failed to reach that glowing form and was on the edge of defeat in her third round match in Miami as she came from 6-2 5-2 down to defeat Chanelle Scheepers, 2-6 7-5 6-2.  This was a gutsy performance from Sam as it is rare to see her pull off these kinds of victories.  Serena has sailed through the draw so far and looked extremely solid in a 6-2 6-1 victory over Roberta Vinci.  Most people appear to be going for Serena in this one but I love an underdog and Stosur based on her recent form, is one in this match.  However I think she will rediscover some great form and shock Serena.
Prediction - Stosur in 3 sets

Yanina Wickmayer (23) v Caroline Wozniacki (4)
Wozniacki will no doubt have breathed a sigh of relief to see Kim Clijsters exit the competiton in the 3rd round having won just one set in three matches against the former world number one.  Wozniacki overcame a tight second set in the third round to advance past Petra Cetkovska, 6-3 7-5, meanwhile Wickmayer conquered her fellow compatriot, Clijsters.  Wozniacki has a very good record over Wickmayer having won all four of their encounters.  Although Wickmayer managed to defeat Clijsters, I felt Clijsters was not 100% and Wickmayer showed her mental fragility wasting six match points (at least 2 on double faults) before finishing the match off.  She will have her chances against Wozniacki but ultimately end up losing...
Prediction - Wozniacki in 2 tight sets

Li Na (8) v Sabine Lisicki (12)
Li will be gunning for revenge in this one after succumbing to defeat in their last competitive encounter at Wimbledon where Lisicki saved match points in a stunning second round match.  Li was clinical in her last match at Miami beating a dangerous Iveta Benesova, 7-5 6-2, meanwhile Lisicki showed real grit and determination to save numerous set points to pull out a straight sets victory over Peng Shuai. I have been impressed with Li's response from that gut wrenching 4th round loss to Kim Clijsters in Australia.  Last year, she would have crumbled but she has responded well and seems to building in confidence.  On the hard courts of Miami, I think she will beat Lisicki in surprisingly convincing fashion.
Prediction - Li in 2 sets

Ekaterina Makarova v Maria Sharapova (2)
Sharapova has failed to hit top form in her first two matches against Shahar Peer and Sloane Stephens and has particularly struggled with her serve so far this week.  She will face Makarova who has swept through the draw beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Mona Barthel, both convincingly.  The two Russians faced off in the Australian Open quarter-finals where Sharapova cruised to a straight sets win.  Makarova has the potential and game to rival the world number two but her inconsistency has been an issue throughout her career so you'd have to be a brave cookie to bet against Sharapova ;-)
Prediction - Sharapova in 2 sets

You can view my current predictions for the WTA and ATP tournament in Miami... I managed to correctly predict all of the mens matches yesterday which is a record for me (this rarely happens!!!) :-D

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