Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Dubai, Rio QF: Possible all Williams final?

3 shock exits yesterday as Radwanska, Kvitova and Errani were all bundled out. Petra's random losses are no longer surprises, but Agnieszka's defeat in the hands of Flavia was unexpected. If the Pole exits early in Indian Wells as well, she can be put on official slump alert.

Match focus:

Serena Williams vs Jelena Jankovic

A tough test for Serena as she will take on the pesky Serbian for a place in the semi finals. Jankovic's game can and will bother Serena, but when Serena is firing on all cylinders, there's nothing much Jankovic can do. If Serena's match with Makarova is any indication, it shows that the American has shaken off her rust. I expect a straightforward match with maybe a close set. 

Pick: Serena in 2 sets

Carla Suarez Navarro vs Alize Cornet

Carla actually wins a close match this time, against Kvitova. But it was easy as all she needed to do was keep the ball in and wait for the grotesque errors from the Czech. She's not going to get as many gifts from Cornet. Alize's elementary game is steady if unspectacular. Carla's variety should be able to overcome the Frenchwoman. As usual, the only thing holding her back is her head. Let's hope Carla's mental game has improved following her win over Kvitova. 

Pick: Suarez Navarro in 2 sets

Caroline Wozniacki vs Sorana Cirstea

Hot and cold Sorana Cirstea snaps out of her slump as she downs Errani in 3 sets. That was the perfect practice for this match, where Wozniacki plays a similar grinding game as Sara. Still, predicting a Cirstea match is akin to guessing when the rain will come. You just don't know. For this, I will choose the ever steady Wozniacki. She seems to be getting back into her groove with some good wins under her belt. 

Pick: Wozniacki in 3 sets

Venus Williams vs Flavia Pennetta

Queen of Dubai, Venus Williams, will look to extend her winning steak here against Flavia Pennetta. However, she trails 3-4 against the feisty Italian. Flavia is also high on confidence after upsetting Radwanska in her previous round. There is no doubt who the crowd will support though. Venus's commitment to tennis despite her illness is remarkable, so a lot of people will be rooting for her. Judging by their matches so far, I believe Venus has the edge. Pennetta had to come through qualifying, so fatigue might set in. 

Pick: Venus in 2 sets

Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Irina-Camelia Begu, Kurumi Nara
Upset alert: Flavia Pennetta

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