In Miami, Everyone is Equal... but some are more equal than others
There are no signs of Carl having taken his talents in South Beach. Not that the WTA needs much more talent to be in attendance the next two weeks.
Everybody (well, except for a certain injured dancing German) is in Miami for the Sony Ericsson Open. Vika, Petra and Maria? Yes, yes, yes. Serena and Kim? Yep, yep, yep. Geez, even Venus is there. This is about as close as we're going to get to a grand slam-style draw outside of Melbourne, Paris, London and New York. Not surprisingly, with Victoria Azarenka having picked up the Australian Open title in January, now it can be said that ALL past Miami champions also have a grand slam title on their career resume. Not only that, of the 54 finalists in the tournament's 27-year history, 47 of them have won slam crowns. 24 of the last 26 finalists have done so.
So, in other words, some big-name players won't be needing to book their hotel rooms for the full two weeks.
**RECENT MIAMI FINALS**
2005 Kim Clijsters d. Maria Sharapova
2006 Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Maria Sharapova
2007 Serena Williams d. Justine Henin
2008 Serena Williams d. Jelena Jankovic
2009 Victoria Azarenka d. Serena Williams
2010 Kim Clijsters d. Venus Williams
2011 Victoria Azarenka d. Maria Sharapova
**MOST MIAMI SINGLES TITLES**
5...Steffi Graf (1987-88, 1994-96)
5...Serena Williams (2002-04, 2007-08)
3...Venus Williams (1998-99, 2001)
2...Victoria Azarenka (2009, 2011)
2...Kim Clijsters (2005, 2010)
2...Martina Hingis (1997, 2000)
2...Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (1992-93)
2...Monica Seles (1990-91)
1...Chris Evert (1986)
1...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2006)
1...Martina Navrtilova (1985)
1...Gabriela Sabatini (1989)
**WON INDIAN WELLS & MIAMI IN SAME YEAR**
1994 - Steffi Graf
1996 - Steffi Graf
2005 - Kim Clijsters
MIAMI, FLORIDA (Premier $4.828m/hardcourt outdoor)
11 Final: Azarenka d. Sharapova
11 Doubles Champions: Hantuchova/A.Radwanska
12 Top Seeds: Azarenka/Sharapova
=Round of 16=
#1 Azarenka d. #18 Kerber
#7 Bartoli d. #22 Kirilenko
#3 Kvitova d. #20 Hantuchova
#5 A.Radwanska d. #24 Pennetta
#10 S.Williams d. #6 Stosur
Clijsters d. McHale
#8 Li d. #17 Peng
#2 Sharapova d. Barthel
...a lot of early potential in this draw. Kvitova/Venus in the 2nd Round. A US Open Final rematch of Serena & Stosur in the 4th. Some great potential upsets (McHale/Wozniacki in the 3rd, as the Bannerette comes back strong from her squandered IW match) and "second chances" (Kerber vs. Azarenka again), too. I've got Kvitova through here, but with her asthma it'd be easy to see the likes of Hantuchova slipping past (if a returning Venus doesn't pounce even earlier, that is).
#1 Azarenka d. #7 Bartoli
#5 A.Radwanska d. #3 Kvitova
Clijsters d. #10 S.Williams
#2 Sharapova d. #8 Li
...hmmm, Clijsters vs. Serena. Who's REALLY back? A-Rad would be able to take advantage of Kvitova's mistakes, but the Czech could blow her off court, too. Either way, as long as Azarenka reaches the SF, any potential opponent there would provide an interesting contest (for very different reasons). Since I'm in the mood for another Azarenka/A-Rad beatdown, I'll go with that and hold tight for when Petra gets to the clay season and a "safer haven" in Europe.
#1 Azarenka d. #5 A.Radwanska
#2 Sharapova d. Clijsters
...a fifth knock-out of the Pole Cat in less than three months? Why not? At this point, Vika might be wishing and hoping for another Maria rematch, since if KC gets this far she's a potentially more lethal final opponent.
#1 Azarenka d. #2 Sharapova
...on hardcourt in North America, I'd give KC a good shot to win. Maria, maybe not. Azarenka has already won this title twice, while Sharapova has been runner-up in Miami three times, including in last year's decider against Vika. Three years ago, Azarenka was RU in Indian Wells, then won Miami. Last year, she won in Miami. As this season's IW champion, she can finally bring the two together two weeks from now and become just the third different woman to win both huge North American titles in the same season. That and 29 straight wins would send Azarenka off to Europe like a bat out of hell (preferably minus that weird virus that is wiping out so many bats here in North America, that is).
I'll be posting the "Anti-Backpsin Team" soon, as well as a mid-Miami look-in to bestow a few awards.
My, my. Todd is really going out on a limb this week, isn't he? So precious. But, really, darling. Vika is going to lose sometime, and don't you want to be there predicting it to happen when it does? Think of the feather in your predicting cap that would be...
All right. I know you're not buying that. Naturally, darling, Azarenka is the correct pick until she finally loses. That said, I'm quite happy with the myriad choices you've left me with for Miami. Petra. Maria. Kim. Serena. Even Venus, if I wanted to take a flying leap off a high cliff (ahh, memories of my crazy childhood in the hinterlands). Speaking of such wild caveperson ways, the other day I found one of the first photos ever taken of Carl and myself. It's of our first kiss, actually.
You see, Carl showed up at a Cavewoman's Rights rally. Probably to bust things up, I suspect. But I never let him get the chance. Right when he started to (literally) beat his chest and threaten to squish a few of my friends and the reporters interviewing them, I slipped in and gave him a kiss. As you can see, it had the desired effect on Carl. Rather than want to squish, he turned to jelly. We went to dinner in the park (I thought going to a busier place might set him off, which would have been dangerous in his precarious condition), and we've been together ever since.
Needless to say, Carl was angry that Todd got his pick correct last week. That my pick (Maria) was in the final, too, caused him to have a bit of a setback. So, I'm afraid I'll be around for at least a few more weeks. As you can see, this development convinced Todd to get me my own segment logo. And since I think "picks" sounds a bit nasty, I had him change it to a more lovely "selections." "Beautiful" ones, in fact. Could there be any other? If I'm going to be here for a while, I demand that the surroundings fit my style. So far, so good. I don't know why Carl finds Todd so disagreeable.
(Diane, darling... I hope you like coffee as much as I do. See you soon darling! Oh, and don't be scared if you hear TOO big a banging at your door when I drop by. Sometimes I can't control my "cavey"-ways and flashback to the days when we had to beat things with sticks. Muscle-memory and all, you know.)
Oh, and here are my picks:
Azarenka d. Bartoli
Kvitova d. A.Radwanska
Clijsters d. Stosur
Sharapova d. Lisicki
Kvitova d. Azarenka
Clijsters d. Sharapova
Clijsters d. Sharapova
All for now.