Dear readers, Women's Tennis Blog has become an attractive place for guest posters. 🙂 This time Jay from www.OnCourtAdvantage.com wanted to contribute his preview of the Sony Ericsson Championships. Check out his favorites for the prestigious Doha title.
The Sony Ericsson Championships (SEC) have begun and will run for 6 days through to Women’s Singles Final on Sunday 31 October. Due to the unique Round Robin format used for this tournament we are blessed with the fantastic opportunity to see these top players clash more often than in any other tournament.
The SEC will produce a number of rematches of Grand Slam quarterfinals, semifinals and singles finals like Schiavone versus Stosur (2010 Roland Garros Final), Clijsters versus Wozniacki (2009 US Open Final) and Clijsters versus Zvonareva (2010 US Open Final).
In no other tournament are you required to beat at least 4 if not 5, of the world’s Top 8 ranked players to win the title. The degree of difficulty is extreme and at least one player will show us the qualities of a true champion this week.
The maroon group is:
(1) Caroline Wozniacki
(4) Francesca Schiavone
(5) Samantha Stosur
(7) Elena Dementieva
The white group is:
(2) Vera Zvonareva
(3) Kim Clijsters
(6) Jelena Jankovic
(8) Victoria Azarenka
Let me just warn you that in tennis more than any other sport you should never bet on the outcome of a match. Instead invest your funds into enjoying, watching, playing and improving the great game we love.
Anyone who REALLY understands this game knows that in the vast majority of matches, both players will have critical moments and opportunities that can swing the match either way and often there can be a number of these situations with the same match.
On any given day it is the player who in the above mentioned situations that can:
Produce the better strategic nous;
Make the better decisions;
Execute their shots during the BIG points; and
Copes best with mental challenges that usually dictate who triumphs on the day.
But if you really want a prediction THEN…
Who will make the semifinals?
The maroon group:
Based on the form that has taken the 20-year-old Wozniacki to be the current World No.1, you would have to lean towards the 1.77m Dane as the favorite to win her group. The youngest player in the field leads the WTA Tour in match wins – 59 – and singles titles this year, 6 titles from 7 finals.
The 1.66m Schiavone would probably be the next best chance to take the second semifinal spot. The eldest player in the field is in great physical condition and will be prepared to peak this week and in the Federation Cup Final following the SEC.
The 30-year-old Italian has enormous pride in representing her country and in her own performance, which suggests she will fight relentlessly. The steely resolve of the Lioness could prove too much for Dementieva’s fragile ankle and Stosur’s current lack of confidence.
The 29-year-old Dementieva forfeited with an ankle injury last week in Luxembourg as she did in the 2010 Roland Garros semifinals. The 1.8m Russian’s strongest component of her game is her court movement and court coverage, so if that is compromised it will be much tougher for her.
The 26-year-old Stosur has not been in good form recently but does possess a serve and forehand that can win her matches. The 1.72m Australian is well suited to hard courts and has won her most recent match against Wozniacki and Dementieva. Stosur also holds a winning record over Schiavone.
Best Guess = No.1 Schiavone and No.2 Wozniacki.
The white group:
Zvonareva and Clijsters have performed the strongest this year in their group. The 26-year-old Zvonareva has beaten the 27-year-old Clijsters twice this year including at Wimbledon. Yet the 1.74m Clijsters from Belgium won the last meeting against the Russian, the 2010 US Open final to claim her third US Open title.
The 1.72m Zvonareva achieved her career high ranking of No.2 this Monday and has the form and results in this group. Even though Clijsters won their last encounter it was also the last time the former No.1 competed, some 6 weeks ago.
Despite being heavily favored in the press a question mark hangs over her match toughness, hunger and whether she is injury-free. Clijsters has lost her most recent matches against Jankovic and Azarenka in 2010.
The 25-year-old Jankovic has not been at her best recently. The former World No.1 fires up when she meets established champions and is vulnerable against lower ranked opponents. The 1.77m Serbian clinched the season-ending No.1 ranking in 2008 and is the dark horse this year.
The 21-year-old Azarenka loves hard courts and comes in full of confidence after winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Sunday. The 1.8m Belarusian won her most recent matches against Jankovic and Clijsters plus has won 2 of the 3 matches against Zvonareva this year.
Azarenka can take out any player on her day but her mental strength can cost her. It would be great for women’s tennis if she could turn it on this week and stabilize her game to challenge deep into major tournaments.
In terms of consistent performances Clijsters and Zvonareva stand out.
Best Guess = No.1 Zvonareva and No.2 Clijsters.
Who will play-off in the final?
Anything can happen once the semifinals are set. After playing 3 matches a player could be suffering physically or could be really playing herself into top form.
Last year Wozniacki had to retire in the semifinals. This year we hope that the semis and final are a tremendous showcase of great women’s tennis. Make sure you do not miss out on seeing four fit players playing high quality, with great variety and inspiring tennis.
Wozniacki versus Azarenka could provide a great finish to the year, so too could Zvonareva and Wozniacki. It would be intriguing to see Clijsters play Wozniacki as they have only played once. I’m sure Wozniacki would love to have another go at Clijsters, especially after how much she has improved since September 2009.