Monday, January 21, 2008

AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2008: Women's Quarterfinals Preview

by Mad Professah

The 2008 Australian Open Women's Quarterfinals are now set. While I missed most of the first two rounds due to my trip to Northern Italy I have seen many of the important matches since.

Justine Henin BEL (1) vs. Maria Sharapova RUS (5). This marquee quarter-final match-up is a reprise of the final match of the WTA Tour last year, which I regarded as one of the best women's tennis matches of 2007. That the last two U.S. Open champions and Australian Open finalists are meeting in a quarter-final is a testament to the depth of the field in the women's game at the first grand slam of the year. Henin has won seven major titles to Sharapova's two and leads their lifetime head-to-head rivalry 6-2. But, Sharapova hates to lose and will not go down without a fight. Henin has every shot in the book and better mobility. Hopefully this match-up will live up to the hype none of the much heralded Grand Slam showdowns between Serena Williams and Henin failed to do on three separate occasions last year. Frankly, I don't like either of these players but I would like to see someone start beating Henin with regularity. Unfortunately, I think I'll have to keep on waiting. PREDICTION: Henin in 3 sets.

Jelena Jankovic SRB (3) vs. Serena Williams USA (7). Surprisingly, Serena and Jelena have only played each other four times in the past four years and they have a split score of 2 wins each. However, last year Serena was able to beat the Serbian player when the American was still playing her way into her best tennis and Jankovic was higher ranked and playing better tennis than she has shown so far in 2008. With the American's ranking now back in the top 10 and Jankovic's falling, Serena will have no problem booking her semifinal berth against her nemesis, Justine Henin. PREDICTION: S. Williams in 2 sets.



Venus Williams USA (8) vs. Ana Ivanovic SRB (4). This matchup is a repeat of the 2007 U.S. Open quarterfinal where Venus played her best tennis of the event and demolished the 2007 French open finalist and brand new #3 player in the world in two short, scintillating sets. It is doubtful that Ivanovic will be dominated so easily again but the fact remains that Venus has never lost to the pulchritudinous heir apparent to Sharapova's "It Girl" tiara in four meetings and it is doubtful that trend will be reversed in Melbourne this year. However, the fifth time may be the charm for Ivanovic to get her first win over the reigning Wimbledon champion. PREDICTION: V. Williams in 3 sets.

Daniela Hantuchova SVK (9) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (2) Agnieszka Radwanska POL (29).
For the second slam in a row, Polish youngster Aggie Radwanska knocked out the #2 seed in the third round (Sharapova at the 2007 US Open, Kuznetsova at the 2008 Australian Open). This was always the weakest quarter of the draw and it was a dream path for Sveta to make her first big splash in Melbourne. Unfortunately for her, she made a huge splash crashing out to the wily counterpuncher in straight sets. Taking advantage of her opportunity is the hard-hitting Slovak waif who is now a tour veteran at age 24. Hantuchova has been to three Grand Slam quarter-finals about five years ago but never won any. Radwanska's never been remotely this far in a slam. Although widely considered mentally fragile, it is very likely Hntuchova will be the one more mentally prepared to take advantage of Kuznetsova's early exit to earn a major semifinal slot. PREDICTION: Hantuchova in 2 sets.

6 comments:

MMT said...

I've seen Henin play two very shaky matches against pretty average opposition, and I don't see her beating Sharapova. I also don't see Hantuchova beating Radwanksa.

Mad Professah said...

I would not be surprised if a very focussed Sharapova beats Henin (and I would be VERY pleased) but it doesn't really matter who wins the Radwanska/Hantuchova match--Venus (if she gets past Ivanovic) should get to her second AUSSIE final. The question is, will she play her sister, Jankovic, Henin or Sharapova?

MMT said...

Venus has definitely been blessed with an easier path to the final. However, I saw something in her match and in Ivanovic's match that makes me think twice: Domachowska seemed to push Venus back a bit, and if she had another gear besides "hit it as hard as you can" she might have made a match of it - too often she gave points away by over-hitting. And as for Ivanovic, the one thing she has going for her is a passable net game. If she can push Venus back AND finish off points at the net, she might have a shot. However, Ivanovic looked pretty shaky, and I can't see her honing if push comes to shove against Venus.

Craig Hickman said...

I've got Maria beating Justine at this venue. Quiet as it's kept, Justine doesn't like this surface. But more than that, her serve has been woeful through four rounds. Maria can clock returns, so if she gets enough looks at second serves, and she will, I see Justine on her back foot and defensively slicing backhands for most of the match.

Helen W said...

I agree with you Craig. I thought Sharapova was really hitting the ball well in her match with Dementieva -- it looked to me like she is back in form with no sign of the shoulder injury from last season.

I'm not a great fan of hers, but I would definitely like to see her prevail over Henin, and I believe she will.

oddman said...

My take too, Masha wins over Henin. I liked that Domachowska girl, from the little bit I watched. Women's tennis? Mildly interesting...