Monday, June 02, 2014

2014 FRENCH OPEN: Women's Quarterfinals Preview

The women's quarterfinals are now set at the 2014 French Open. Last year, I predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly.

Serena Williams (USA) [1] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) vs. Maria Sharapova (RUS) [7]. Muguruza is the real deal, as the 20-year-old Spaniard finally lived up to her long-touted potential by eliminating  defending champion and World #1 Serena Williams in the second round in two un-competititve sets. However, Sharapova is literally the most successful player on clay for the last three seasons, with a mere 4 losses in 55 matches played, reaching the 2012 and 2013 finals here at Roland Garros. Sharapova got through a stuff test from one of the few remaining Grand Slam champions in the draw provided  for a set and a half by Samantha Stosur but ended that match by winning 9 games in a row. (In her  previous round she won 12 games in a row, so she is brimming with confidence. Muguruza is playing in her very first major quarterfinal while Sharapova is in the seventh of her career and 4th consecutive. Experience will trump youthful exuberance, and its hard to see anyone stop Sharapova from winning her 2nd French Open title next Saturday. Mad Professah's pick: Sharapova in 2 sets.

Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) [14] vs. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) [18] Angelique Kerber (GER) [8]. Like Muguruza, Bouchard is another member of the next generation of WTA stars, and in fact she is playing in her second major quarterfinal of the year and has already won a WTA tour title. She has already overperformed by eliminating Top 10 mainstay Angie Kerber by only losing 3 games in the process. Suarez Navarro is a talented dirtballer of the highest order, and is coached by Conchita Martinez. Like her coach, Suarez Navarro can be a bit of a head case but her results have markedly improved in the last year and she has also recently won a tour title (which I take as a measure of mental toughness). Either Bouchard will run through this quickly (which I seriously doubt) or this will be a long war of attrition. Mad Professah's pick: Suarez Navarro in 3 sets.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) [27] vs Simona Halep (ROU) [4].  This should be a compelling match because it is a first-time meeting and the person who wins this semifinal should have a very good chance to reach the final and attempt to stop Sharapova from her 2nd coronation in Paris. Kuznetsova is one of my longtime favorites on the women's tour and I think she is playing quite well enough in Paris to win the whole thing. Last year, she gave the eventual winner Serena Williams almost all she could handle in a tough 3-set match. I suspect history will repeat itself here. I am a big fan of Halep, havnig seen her play close-up in New York and Indian Wells in the last 9 months or so. She has been improving in every major she plays so I would not be surprised if that trend continues all the way to the final. There's a reason why she's the top remaining seed in the draw. Mad Professah's pick: Halep in 3 sets.

Andrea Petkovic (GER) [28] Na Li (CHN) [2] vs Sara Errani (ITA) [10]. The diminutive Italian does not get a lot of respect, but she is the closest thing the women's tour has to a David Ferrer, a play who has maximized their physical assets through sheer hard work, grit and determination. Petkovic is a good player, and won the Charleston tournament earlier this year so she is comfortable on clay. However, these two met in Madrid this year and Errani won easily. I haven't seen anything which indicates that the German is ready to make a big breakthrough here, while Errani, has made the semifinals here for the last two years and will likely do so a third time this year. Lucky for her, she does not have to face 2010 champion Li Na, who lost in the first roundMad Professah's pick: Errani in 2 sets.

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