There are always a lot of assumptions made in tennis tournaments, but two of the most common ones over the last week and a half have been that #4 Victoria Azarenka and #7 Maria Sharapova would meet in the semifinals, and that the winner should win the tournament. I personally would love to see a match between these two giants of the game that seem like they could be sisters — what with their tall, thin frames, long blonde hair, power games, eastern european descent and tendencies to shriek on court.
But in order to get through Wednesday’s quarterfinals, a lot will have to go right. For Sharapova, she takes on an opponent in #15 Andrea Petkovic that knocked her out of the 2011 Aussie Open in blowout fashion. Maria got some revenge in Miami, but only after dropping the first set. Sharapova seemed to get very annoyed with Petkovic doing her signature dancing around the court, and Maria proceeded to annihilate Petko over the final two sets, dropping only two games. The two have never met on clay, and Sharapova is 2-1 lifetime against Petkovic, taking 2010’s Masters series tournament in Cincinnati.
While Sharapova has a tough match against an aggressive player, Vika Azarenka has a match against a woman who actually owns her. Aza and Na Li have only ever played on hard court, but Li is 3-1 against Vika, including the last matchup, which was also at this year’s Australian Open, and was also in straight sets. And as far as previous major accomplishments go, Li is the one who has made a grand slam final, which she dropped in three sets to Kim Clijsters (2011 Australian Open). Azarenka, meanwhile, has never made it past the quarterfinal round of any grand slam tournament. So while everyone keeps repeating that Vika Azarenka is the player to beat at this tournament, history would actually argue otherwise. While I do like Na Li, and she was 1/2 of my biggest tennis parlay hit of my life, I hope that Azarenka can play her game and hopefully that clay somehow benefits her in the results column. We hockey fans gotta stick together.
The top half of the women’s semis have already been set. #11 Marion Bartoli of France will take on defending champion and #5 seed Francesca Schiavone for the right to go to the finals.
*** One quick note, because it was not worth an entire blog post. ***
The Atlanta Thrashers are now officially moving to Winnipeg, and tomorrow I will give my thoughts on why I think there were some shady means to the correct end. I’m glad for Winnipeg and Canada in general, but this whole thing could have been done a little more honestly, in my opinion. That comes tomorrow, and then will not be addressed again, because it will be time for the Stanley Cup Finals.