Schedule of play:
Simona Halep vs. Sabine Lisicki
Sabine Lisicki wouldn't be in this round if she wasn't seeded. In Madrid where almost all the top players are playing, Lisicki was lucky to be still banking on her finalist points to get 2 easy opponents. She will not be lucky against Simona, who is the epitome of a smart attacking player. Halep did just enough in her previous round, and will be ready to take apart the ball bashing Lisicki. On clay, you need more than just power and Sabine will find out here against Simona.
Pick: Halep in 2 sets
Caroline Garcia vs. Sara Errani
Including Fed Cup matches and Madrid qualifying, Caroline has been on a 11 match winning streak since Bogota (well, including a walkover for Kirilenko). The young player is obviously high on confidence, and her readiness as a top player will be tested against Errani. Sara is like a better Meusburger. If you can beat her, you have what it takes to be a top 10 player. Otherwise, you're not ready. To me, Garcia has nothing to lose and is full of confidence. She's ready for the big win and I think she knows it as well.
Pick: Garcia in 2 tight sets
Maria Sharapova vs. Samantha Stosur
In tennis, it's all about whose game matches up well with whose. In this case, Sharapova's game always takes apart Stosur's game. In 14 past meetings, Stosur has only won 2 matches, and Sharapova won both of their clashes on clay. Granted that Maria is not on her best form so far, but I'm sure she relishes the prospect of dismantling Stosur's game again. Samantha was lucky to draw Cibulkova, someone whose game doesn't match up well with hers, but her luck should end here. It might go the distance but Sharapova will prevail in the end.
Pick: Sharapova in 2 sets
Sure win bets: Serena Williams, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska
Upset alert: Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic