Top Half – Sharapova’s Quarter
It was only two weeks ago that Maria Sharapova completed the career slam, with all four under her belt. It was a long eight years ago that a 17 year old Sharapova won her first ever grand slam on the speedy lawns of London. The distance between these two staggering facts makes Sharapova the most intriguing story for this fortnight.
Lest we forget, Sharapova made the final of Wimbledon last year. She went out with a whimper, however, against the big hitting Petra Kvitova. It has been a common theme versus Serena Williams and was the same story at this year’s Australian Open against Azarenka. Sharapova only has one way of playing, and it overwhelms the vast majority of opponents. However, those who hit hard and take matters into their own hands give Sharapova cause for caution, and that’s why her draw is incredibly important to her success at this tournament.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much worse for her. She has Pironkova second round, and possibly Lisicki fourth round, followed by Kerber or Clijsters in the quarters. While she can not face Kvitova, Azarenka or Serena until the final, it is far from smooth sailing for the Russian. Winning back to back slams has become somewhat of a rarity in the WTA and while Sharapova has to be the favourite for the title, I really think this draw could and will get to her at some hurdle. She might be a difficult pick for winning it overall.
Predicted Quarterfinal: Sharapova vs. Kerber
Top Half – Radwanska’s Quarter
Unfortunately, grass has never really been Aga’s surface and never will be. She will out smart and out drop shot opponents that she can dictate. However, up against a power player she is likely to be overwhelmed. A second round blockbuster against Venus Williams may derail her hopes before they’ve even set up on the runway.
The next seeded favourite is Sam Stosur. As a player who relies on a kick serve and getting on top of the ball, Wimbledon and grass in general will never be a welcoming place for her.
Beyond that there are many question mark floaters. Li Na comes to mind, but she is incredibly streaky and has never made it past the quarterfinals here. Petrova? Dani? Kiri? CIRSTEA?! Players rarely look at their draw, but if they have, they should be thrilled with this quarter which appears to be the one that will be incredibly open and entirely unpredictable.
Predicted Quarterfinal: Radwanska vs. Li
Bottom Half – Kvitova’s Quarter
There is very little in this quarter outside of the potential Kvtiova/Serena match-up that almost certainly will happen barring disaster. So what of it? These are the types of matches Serena loves. A chance to defeat the defending champion and make headlines once again. It doesn’t hurt that Serena can work her way into this tournament with some players she should and likely will absolutely dominate.
One name to watch out for in this quarter is Laura Robson. She’s a growing girl and has had some difficulties with health and injuries, but she has the type of game that is just shouting out for a coming out party. A first round match against Franny is difficult, as she will have to manage the creativity of Schiavone. At the same time, she has the power to push Schiavone who can become incredibly error happy at the worst of times. After that the draw opens up, and could open up even more than that. A surprise fourth round run, and a further push up the rankings? It’s possible. Keep an eye on that one.
Predicted Quarterfinal: Kvitova vs. Williams
Bottom Half – Azarenka’s Half
Azarenka truly came to form at the beginning of the season en route to her Australian Open win. She showed the mental strength necessary and absolutely went for it; with devastating results. This nearly reckless abandon will be necessary again if she hopes to make it past her best ever result of a 2011 semifinal. With eyes focused on Sharapova, Kvitova, and the Williams sisters, this may be the perfect opportunity for Vika to continue doing her thing and spring a trap. I, for one, think she may. Azarenka has the confidence and discipline to routine the players she should, and that is incredibly necessary in grand slams and particularly Wimbledon where a good start in matches and the tournament overall is incredibly important.
Her opponent is likely to be Marion Bartoli or Caroline Wozniacki. Bartoli plays a similar style to Azarenka with weaker movement and a less devastating forehand, and I like her chances to get through a quarterfinal against her.
Predicted Quarterfinal: Azarenka vs. Bartoli
Predicted Semifinals: Kerber vs. Li, Azarenka vs. Williams
Predicted Final: Kerber vs. Azarenka