Schedule of play:
Simona withdraws from Beijing after toughing out her win against Petkovic. This gives Ana a free pass to the semi-finals, almost confirming her attendance in Singapore.
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Maria Sharapova
A rematch of last week's 2nd round match, Kuznetsova gets another chance to try to topple the tall Russian. However, it is very doubtful that Svetlana can upset Maria after that horror show last week. Sharapova was clearly not at her best but managed to toughen out a win in Wuhan. Svetlana's mental strength is just not capable of making the right shots at the right time. Expect another win for the more famous Russian.
Pick: Sharapova in 2 sets
Serena Williams vs. Samantha Stosur
Serena has not been playing her best tennis lately, and struggled with her left knee against Safarova. If Stosur plays well, she can cause another upset here. I do think that Serena is smart enough not to risk further injury before the year-end championships, so there is a possibility of her withdrawing before the match even begins. Nevertheless, if Serena steps on court, she will have to fight her way through a resurgent Stosur, whose game seem to be clicking again. Stosur's mental strength is very flaky though, so if Serena is able to pressure the Aussie, Samantha might crumble.
Pick: Serena in 3 sets
Petra Kvitova vs. Roberta Vinci
Out of nowhere, Roberta Vinci manages to win consecutive matches to enter her first Premier quarterfinal in a while. With a negative win-loss record this year, I would have expected Vinci to focus more on doubles, or look forward to next year. The Italian's run should end here though, as she collides with the ever-improving Kvitova. The Czech has been going from strength to strength here in China, still unbeaten from her run in Wuhan. Her matches have been relatively straightforward, so I don't see how Vinci's game can hurt her.
Pick: Kvitova in 2 sets