Wednesday, June 01, 2016

2016 FRENCH OPEN: Women's Quarterfinals (and R16) Preview, Part 1

Here are my predictions for the 2016 women's quarterfinals and remaining Round of 16 matches at the French Open. Last year I correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals. I have predicted the men's quarterfinals (and remaining Round of 16 matches) in a separate post.

Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) Agnieska Radwanska (POL) [2] vs Samantha Stosur (AUS) [21] Simona Halep (ROU) [6]. This was supposed to be a blockbuster quarterfinal of two major finalists and two former World #2 players) but instead they were both upset in matches where they blew commanding leads. Halep lead the first set 5-3 but ended up losing the first set in a tiebreak while Pironkova got blown out in the first set but ended up winning the last two sets despite barely ever holding serve. Stosur is a major champion and has been to a final on clay, despite appearances, her game is actually well suited to the slow clay surface, and her athleticism should make her too much for the talented (but results-starved) Bulgarian to handle. MadProfessah's prediction: Stosur.

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) [4] vs Shelby Rogers (USA) Petra Kvitova (CZE) [10] Muguruza has looked very strong and is in her 3rd consecutive Roland Garros quarterfinal, playing against the unheralded Shelby Rogers who is playing the tournament of her life. The American's paycheck for reaching the quarterfinal here will be a significant fraction of her entire career earnings to date. She has had to beat THREE seeded players to reach this point, 2-time major champion #10 Petra Kvitova (whom she beat by one of the most remarkable scores of the entire tournament: 6-0 6-7(3) 6-0), #17 Karolina Pliskova and #25 Irinia-Camelia Begu.  The womens tour has been going through a period of  topsy turvy upsets this year, but Shelby Rogers beating Muguruza to reach the French Open semifinals would just about cement concerns that things have gotten out of control. I don't think that's going to happen. MadProfessah's prediction: Muguruza.

Serena Williams [1] vs Elina Svitolina (UKR) [18].  Due to the inclement weather, the top part of the draw, which includes the #1 seed and both Williams sisters is a round behind from where it typically is. However, I think this will only delay not derail, Serena's defense of her French Open crown. That being said, Svitolina is a good young player who has shown herself to be fearless against Serena before. But Serena should be ready for her, and once Serena gets to the business end of a tournament she is tough to beat. That being said, playing one match a day for the next four days in order to win the tournament will be an interesting test of stamina for the G.O.A.T Mad Professah's Pick: S. Williams.

Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) [12] vs Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) [5]. Speaking of fearless competitors, Putintseva is another pint-sized powerhouse in the mode of Dominika Cibulkova without her movement or consistency yet. CSN has far too much game to her 3rd quarterfinal at her most successful major. Mad Professah's pick: Suarez Navarro.

Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) [8] vs Venus Williams (USA) [9]The one person who was probably not sad about Monday's complete washout of play was 35-year-old Venus Williams. She probably needed the time to recover from having to play two doubles matches on Sunday. However, it's not clear if Venus still has enough game to defeat the wily Swiss player, who last year made the semifinals here and took a set off Serena in that match. If the Venus Williams circa 2003 shows up then it is very possible she could produce yet another all-Williams match-up at a major, (if she wins her quarterfinal match) but oftentimes one of the siblings blinks when this possibility is on the table, and Serena ain't blinking for anybody right now. There's a reason why Bacsinsky is actually higher seeded than Venus, so the American winning would actually be the upset. Mad Professah's pick: Bacsinszky.

Madison Keys (USA) [15] vs Kiki Bertens (NED) Angelique Kerber (GER) [3]. Kiki Bertens is having the tournament of her life, and by reaching the fourth round she clinched her berth on the Dutch Olympic team (she was also one half of the team that eliminated the Williams sisters in doubles). Keys has been having good results on clay, which bodes well for later in the year where the faster surfaces should make her powerful game even more effective. The fact that Bertens took out the reigning Australian Open champion who is also a classic European dirtballer should not be sneezed at, but I think Keys is ready to join the elite at the top of women's tennis, and making a deep run here, at her worst surface, would herald that. Mad Professah's pick: Keys.

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