The Asian swing of the tennis tour is in full effect as the tennis season draws to a close and some of the first casualties of the long year are the Williams sisters. Both Venus Williams and Serena Williams pulled out of their matches at this week's China Open in Beijing against Petra Kvitova (3rd round) and Samantha Stosur (quarterfinal), respectively. The finals on the women's side will be betweeen Maria Sharapova who got revenge against Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals, and Petra Kvitova, who won a seesaw 3-set match against Stosur. Kvitova won last week's Wuhan Open and if she wins this tournament she will reclaim her career high ranking of World #2. Serena's withdrawal was for a left knee injury which puts her participation in the year-end championships in Singapore greatly in doubt, since it starts two weeks from Monday.
The final between Kvitova and Sharapova should be very interesting. Since Kvitova routed her in the 2011 Wimbledon final, Sharapova has won their last four meetings decisively, the most important being their 3-set 2012 Australian Open semifinal showdown. Sharapova now has an overall head-to-head advantage of 5-2 but is 0-1 in finals. However, if Kvitova is on, she should be able to outhit (but probably not outlast) her rival. MadProfessah's pick: Kvitova in 2 sets, Sharapova in 3.
On the men's side of the draw Novak Djokovic continued his streak of unbeaten play in China by defeating Andy Murray in the semifinals 6-3 6-4. Djokovic will be facing Tomas Berdych in his 5th consecutive final of the China Open. Berdych beat Martin Klizan in the semifinals after Klizan had pulled off a stunning upset against Rafael Nadal on Friday 6-7(4) 6-4 6-3 by winning the last four games of the match. Djokovic leads Berdych 15-2 in their career head-to-head and has not lost in China since the 2010 Shanghai Masters (against Federer) 23 matches ago.
MadProfessah's pick: Djokovic