Monday, June 03, 2013

2013 FRENCH OPEN: Women's Quarterfinals Preview

The women's quarterfinals are now set at the 2013 French Open. Last year, I predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly. I have also previewed the 2013 French Open men's quarterfinals.

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)It is good to see the talented and popular Russian player playing in only her 2nd consecutive major quarterfinal after being out of the game for more than six months following a knee injury last year. Serena leads their head-to-head 6-2 but the two have not played since 2009, which interestingly was the same year that Kuznetsova outlasted Serena in a high-quality match at this same stage in Roland Garros en route to winning her 2nd major title. Kuznetsova did well to outlast #8 seed Angelique Kerber to reach this point. However, Serena has been slicing through the draw like a scythe, determined to erase all memories of last year's disappointment with determination and domination. She has lost 10 games in 8 sets of tennis, that's an average of 1.25 games per set, or 2.5 per match. And she's done that while playing two seeds, Roberta Vinci and Soran Cirstea.It's true that Sveta has the game to beat Serena here, and she has done it before, but at this point Serena not winning the title here would be even more surprising than her 1st round exit last year. Mad Professah's Pick: Serena in 2 sets.

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [4] vs Sara Errani (ITA) [5]This is an interesting match-up between the two most successful counterpunchers on the women's tour right now. Radwanska broke through to reach the 2012 Wimbledon final, and Errani reached the 2012 Roland Garros final.  Both women lost those matches, to card-carrying members of the Big Babes of TennisS club, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, respectively. That said, it is somewhat surprising that Radwanska has such a large head-to-head lead of 6-1 in their careers, including 3-1 on clay. Aggie has even beaten Errani while she has become an elite player, now ranked World #5 (just below Radwanska herself, who has soared as high as #2 and challenged for the top spot last year. Errani had to come back from a set and a break down against Carla Suarez Navarro to even reach this spot, despite suffering a mysterious injury which reduced her breathing capacity in the second set. I suspect that Radwanska will be the fresher player and use that advantage to reach her  first semifinal at Roland Garros, where she will have almost no change of reaching the final against either Serena or Kuznetsova. Mad Professah's pick: Radwanska.

Maria Kirilenko (RUS) [12] vs Victoria Azarenka (BLR) [3].  This is a match-up between two competitors with vastly different levels of experience. This is Kirilenko's 1st quarterfinal appearance at Roland Garros but Azarenka's 3rd. Similarly, Vika is a 2-time major champion and 10-time major quarterfinalist while the other Russian Maria has yet to taste true success at a major tournament., having appeared in just 4 major quarterfinals in her career. Paris has so far been Azarenka's worst surface, but I'm sure she feels that "anything Maria [Sharapova] can do, I can do better" and so she wants to show the world that she can be successful on a stage other than Melbourne. Despite their close head-to-head rivalry, these two have never met on clay, and I doubt the match will be as close as their past history suggests it could be. As usual, the more experienced (and more aggressive) player will end the match with the victory. Mad Professah's pick: Azarenka in 2 sets.

Jelena Jankovic (SRB) [18] vs Maria Sharapova (RUS) [2].  Ahhhh, grudge matches. These two players really do not like each other, which one would think would make their matches more interesting, but it seems like it makes their meetings very difficult (and uninteresting) to watch. The two have met eight times and only once has the Serbian Drama Queen been able to come away with a win. The two have never met on clay, which is probably Jankovic's best surface and Sharapova's worst, thus complicating things but it should not stop the Russian from reaching her 3rd consecutive semifinal at Roland Garros in 3 years. Mad Professah's pick: Sharapova in 3 sets.

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