Sunday, January 15, 2012
The Walking Wounded - Australian Open Prediction (2012)
The Walking Wounded, a tribe of injured tennis starlettes are heading into the Australian Open carrying injuries. Wrists, hips, backs, ankles you name we got it! In her absence Emily has also given the right to make the predictions posts this time. Which is good considering she has an 0 and 4 record coming in, maybe I will be able to finally bring some success! And now bare with me, as I eat my Lasagna and watch The Golden Girls, and take you on the roller coaster ride of my predictions!
The first quarter is quite big name heavy. Obviously featuring World Number 1 Caroline Wozniacki, coming into the tournament carrying a wrist injury, former World Number 1 Jelena Jankovic, defending champ Kim Clijsters, Roland Garros champ and 2011 runner up Li Na as well as other regular tour threats, 2008 semi finalist Daniela Hantuchova, in form 2007 quarter finalist Lucia Safarova. Wozniacki and Jankovic are on course for a round of 16 match, which could prove very exciting. Wozniacki is currently receiving coaching assistance from Jankovic's former coach, Ricardo Sanchez, and Jelena Jankovic has been playing incredibly well for the start of the season. All but one of their matches have been close encounters, including three 3 setters in the seven encounters. I completely see this match as a toss up based on two factors, Caroline's injury and Jelena's form. In the lower sector of the quarter the 4th round match will more than likely feature last years finalists, Li Na and Kim Clijsters. Returning from about four months of injury and already set back from injury again, Kim Clijsters will most likely still be the favorite in the match against the returning to form Li Na. I can't see anyone posing any real threat to this 4th round encounter, which will no doubt be another thrilling encounter. I am tipping the 'upset' of Clijsters.
Quarter Final Prediction -  Caroline Wozniacki vs  Li Na
The second quarter will most likely be dominated by third seed and Sydney champion, Victoria Azarenka. Victoria has a very easy path to the quarter final, with her seeded 4th round opponent an out of sorts Peng Shuai, however she could encounter a tricky thrid round match against rising German star and Hobart champion Mona Barthel. The lower section is highlighted by Agnieszka Radwanska, the eighth seed. This section is probably the most open in the draw and we could see a run to the 4th round or even quarter final by the likes of Kimiko Date Krumm, Sania Mirza, Tsvetana Pironkova or Galina Voskoboeva. And just to be different, I am going to tip Kimiko to knock off tenth seed Francesca Schiavone in the third round and face off against Radwanska in the fourth.
Quarter Final Prediction -  Victoria Azarenka vs Kimiko Date Krumm
Serena Williams. Does anything else need to be said? One would expect with the draw given to Serena, she should cruise into the second week and round of 16, where things could get tricky. Serena would play Vera Zvonareva if things went to seedings. Vera has been out of form since sacking her coach that took her to number two in the world and two slam finals. The draw has not been kind to Vera either, she opens against Dulgheru (who sent Petra Kvitova home early in the US Open), should play hard hitting Lucie Hradecka in the second and if shes able to survive both of these she will run into an inform and full of confidence Kaia Kanepi. The seeds to meet in the fourth round in the lower section are Maria Sharapova and Sabine Lisicki. Both are hanging under injury clouds, and I would not so boldly predict the upsets of the pair in early rounds. Sharapova hasn't played since September and often struggles with no warm up tournaments, especially at the beginning of the year. I wouldn't be surprised to see a run made by Sloane Stephens, Elena Vesnina, Gisela Dulko or even Shahar Peer who is entering 2012 revitalized and coming off a semifinal run in Hobart. I would imagine Svetlana Kuznetsova, who has been in some great form at the beginning of the year to advance to at least the fourth round, who her opponent will? Your guess is as good as mine.
Quarter Final Prediction -  Serena Williams vs  Svetlana Kuznetsova
The head line act is none other than Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. No one in her draw her octet could pose any real threat the her advancing to the quarter finals, I am going to be bold and say the in the 4th round she will play Vania King. In the higher half of this quarter Sam Stosur will carry the hopes of the nation on her racquet, which will be a momentousness task given her recent form. Her first round is against an unpredictable Romaina, Sorana Cirstea and could face Nadia Petrova in the third round. The other seeded player to make the fourth round is Marion Bartoli, despite her great form of recent time I am going to go out on a huge limb and say that the fourth round opponent to Stosur will be either Zheng Jie or American wild card play off winner Madison Keys.
Quarter Final Prediction -  Sam Stosur vs  Petra Kvitova
Caroline Wozniacki vs Li Na
Based on injury alone, I am going to give a slight edge to Li Na. If Caroline's injury is not too bad, I would expect it to be a different story. Wozniacki will be on the revenge path following her loss to Li at the semi final stage of last years tournament blowing a match point. It really is a toss up depending of fitness. Both will probably have tough 4th round matches and its basically a toss up. Like I said earlier slight edge to Li
Victoria Azarenka vs Kimiko Date Krumm
This one answers its self
Serena Williams vs Svetlana Kuznetsova
These good friends share a very rich rivelry which features some epic matches over time. Half of their matches have gone to three sets, and Svetlana does tend to show up when playing Serena. Nearly every match Serena plays is on her racquet, however I feel that in this situation it will all comedown to which Sveta turns up and if she can handle her nerves.
Sam Stosur vs Petra Kvitova
Petra is 6ft tall. Petra hits hard. Petra is a lefty.
Sam is playing in front of her home crowed, lets face it...she sucks at dealing with pressure.
Li Na vs Victoria Azarenka
Li Na seems to have Victoria's number when it comes to slams. Except Vika has won their last two encounters now, and seems to be getting on top if Li. The match should prove to be very very exciting. I give a slight edge to Victoria having just beaten Li in Sydney
Serena Williams vs Petra Kvitova
The match the tennis world has been waiting for. This could be incredible if both players play near their best level. Who will win? I have no idea. I give the slimmest of advantages to Petra, depending on how Serena's ankle is.
Victoria Azarenka vs Someone
If Serena plays Victoria, Serena will win. If Petra plays Victoria, Victoria will win.
I am leaving it at that.
I think, well I am 75% sure we'll see Serena lift the trophy. Trust Emily to give me the toughest draw to predict. Typical.
My names to watch
Victoria Azarenka - probably the best chance from the six possibilities to come out of Melbourne with the number one rank.
Ash Barty - Junior Wimbledon champ won the Australian wild card play offs
Iveta Benesova - She's got the draw to make some noise and is definitely capable
Sania Mizra - I have a feeling she could do something. Sadly I get this feeling a lot.
Lucie Hradecka - The talent is definitely there, she could fare well against Kanepi. R4.
Anna Chakvetadze - Returning from a series of injuries everything was going well in Hobart until a slight back twinge. Could make some sort of a run.
Aleks Wozniak - Dark horse for round 3
Marion Bartoli - Form of her life. Deadly in Perth
Julia Görges - She has some points to defend here and is more than capable
Jelena Jankovic - Her backhand and serve looked the goods in Brisbane and Sydney. Especially the backhand, I don't know where she has been hiding the past year or so, but its back!