Friday, August 03, 2007

WTA ACURA CLASSIC: Quarterfinals Preview

The WTA Acura Classic is a hop skip and a jump from Mad Professah's stomping grounds in Southern California so I will be driving down with a bunch of other tennis fans this weekend to see Friday's last quarterfinal as well as both semi-finals on Saturday.

Patty SCHNYDER (SUI) vs Nadia PETROVA (RUS). The crafty lefty finally beat her more famous Swiss compatriot Martina Hingis for the first time in nearly nine years despite losing the second set in a tie-break to reach this quarterfinal against one of five Russians in the Final Eight at this important Tier 1 warm-up to the U.S. Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the year. Petrova is the "most mentally challenged" of the top Russian players (well, except for Dinara Safina!) and Schnyder is one of the most skillful players onthe tour at getting into someone's head. Despite the fact Schnyder leads their head-to-head 5-4 they haven't played each other in more than a year and the Russian's power game should be enough to blow Schnyder off the court. Prediction: Petrova in 2 sets.

Elena DEMENTIEVA (RUS) vs Maria KIRILENKO (RUS). After she serves, Elena Dementieva has some of the prettiest strokes in the women's game, but they often are not enough to make up for her laughably atrocious serve. Kirilenko has just had the biggest win of her young but not so distinguished career, defeating the indefatigable Jelena Jankovic, currently the #3 player in the world, in three tough sets the round before. Matches between Russians are ugly at the best of times, and this one will be even uglier than usual as these two blonde beauties slug it out. Prediction: Toss-up!

Maria SHARAPOVA (RUS) vs Sania MIRZA (IND). It looks like the Muslim Miracle a.k.a. the Invincible Indian has finally started to live up to her hype and started to win matches. She made the final of Stanford last weekend and easily dispatched former Top 10 player Dinara Safina pretty easily to get to this quarterfinal match-up with the reigning U.S. Open champion. Mirza is a big match player, but the jury is still out on whether she has the weapons to match her will. Sharapova has been looking sharp this week, and her serve seems to be returning to it's former strength and consistency. Prediction: Sharapova in 2 sets.

Anna CHAKVETADZE (RUS) vs Venus WILLIAMS (USA). Chakvetadze is the hottest player on the tour right now, having won the last two tournaments she played in, at Cincinatti and Stanford. However, she hasn't really played anyone of the caliber of the reigning Wimbledon champion in her recent victories. Venus is clearly swinging freely and dispatched hard-hitting Daniela Hantuchova in the previous round in straight sets (including a bagel!), limiting the Slovak to a mere 3 games. (Venus has never lost to Hantuchova in 9 matches.) Happily, the organizers decided to schedule this quarterfinal as the evening match so MadProfessah will be able to watch it live in the stands. I suspect Anna will not go down as quietly as Daniela did, but Venus would love to set up another grudge match with Sharapova in the semis Saturday night. Whoever wins that match should easily defeat the winner of the early semifinal on the other half of the draw. Prediction: Williams in 3 sets.

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