Upon researching the remaining round of 16 matches in the women’s draw at Roland Garros, I found some encouraging trends, as well as a disappointing one. Some good news, and some bad news. Let’s give the bad news first.
At the very bottom of the bottom half of the bracket sits #25 Maria Kirilenko, who will take on #15 Andrea Petkovic tomorrow. I make no apologies for the ladies I root for, and in this match I will without question root for one of my favorites, Ms. Kirilenko. But the outlook for Maria to make the quarterfinals is bleak. These two players have only ever played twice, and both times were in 2011 and on clay. Petkovic took both matches in straight sets. There is always hope, but it doesn’t seem like Kirilenko matches up well with Petkovic, who has shot up the rankings of both the tour and popularity this season. Petkovic has the advantage in height and weight, as well as form, as she is 32-9 this season, compared to Kirilenko’s 10-10. I’d have to say Maria is a longshot to beat Petko tomorrow, but it can be done.
|Maria Kirilenko looks like that while she’s playing tennis.|
The not-so-bad news comes in looking at #4 Vika Azarenka’s matchup with the barely unseeded (world #33) Ekaterina Makarova. Azarenka is 2-1 against Makarova, with both wins coming this year. But both were on hard court, and one was a three setter, so there is definitely the possibility of the highest remaining seed getting bounced. But Aza has been playing probably the best tennis of anyone in the field this week, and it should be her match to lose. This is Azarenka’s best chance to grab that first major and the hottie belt, right as Caroline Wozniacki has surrendered both. People jumped on the Vika bandwagon when she was very young, and then couldn’t dive off fast enough after she imploded in a couple grand slams due to illnesses, both physical and emotional. But it looks like now might be the time to buy Azarenka, because there is a clear possibility that she wins this tournament, and is a contender on all surfaces, whether Serena Williams is injured or not.
|As the top seed remaining, Vika Azarenka has her chance to grab a grand slam and the best pretty player title in the next six days.|
The match I don’t care so much about pits #6 Na Li against #9 Petra Kvitova. I’m something of a fan of Li, as she seems funny and kind of small, and also because she seems to have taken a few steps professionally at an older age than most. But she is 0-1 against Kvitova, who won their only match just this spring in Madrid, which is of course a clay tournament. The big left hander from the Czech Republic won 6-3, 6-1, and boasts an impressive 32-6 record in 2011, which has landed her three singles titles. The steady woman from Wuhan, China has gone 22-8 this year, but will need to change something from Madrid if she is to advance to the French quarterfinals. I would have to assume a Kvitova win.
Of the four matches Monday, the one with the most sure track record is the only pitting #7 Maria Sharapova against #12 Agnieszka Radwanska. Maria is 6-1 against Aggie, and has won the last five matchups, which have all been on hard court. The only time they faced each other on clay was in 2007, which went to Sharapova in three sets. But both players are better now than they were then, and Maria has seen a return to longer glimpses of dominant form. She has become a clay court favorite after winning the Italian Open a couple of weeks ago, and given her stature and game, has to be considered the one who will decide the outcome of this match. I think Radwanska is a really good player who could totally grab a major anytime, but given the history and the current trending, I would say Maria Sharapova will probably survive this match and take on the winner of the Petkovic / Kirilenko match.
|Maria Sharapova stated recently that she will regain the world #1 ranking. In doing so, Masha implicitly guaranteed that she will win back the hottie belt for the third time.|
So while in a perfect world we would see Kirilenko and Sharapova go at it for the right to take on Azarenka for the hottie title belt, the likely winning four-lady parlay tomorrow is Petkovic-Azarenka-Kvitova-Sharapova. And as Jack Nicholson said in “Mars Attacks,” “I want the people to know that they still have two out of three [beautiful players] working for them, and that ain’t bad.”