OK, so Serena Williams is going to win the Australian Open. So let’s get that out of the way and state there’s lots else to ponder, and plenty of opening-round matches of intrigue at the 2013 Australian Open.
Seeds of Note: (1) Victoria Azarenka, (10) Caroline Wozniacki
Floaters: Sabine Lisicki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Carla Suarez Navarro, Jamie Hampton
The paper world No. 1 Azarenka (whose reign at No. 1 will likely end after Melbourne) landed in a posh section with few competitors, but lots of low-level seeds. We mean low. Azarenka’s path to the semis would likely see her play Romanian Monica Niculescu, Eleni Daniili-don’t, (16) Roberta Vinci, then (7) Sara Errani, Kuznetsova or (10) Wozniacki in the quarters. That’s a walk in Melbourne Park. Tough openers include (31) Urszula “Not Aggie” Radwanska vs. the in-form American Hampton, (10) Wozniacki vs. German schlep-herd Sabine Lisicki, and (7) Errani vs. Suarez Navarro. (26) Su-Wei Hsieh is looking at a second-round meeting with the unseeded Kuznetsova if she can get there.
Seeds of Note: (3) Serena Williams, (8) Petra Kvitova, (12) Nadia Petrova, (14) Maria Kirilenko, (17) Lucie Safarova, (29) Sloane Stephens
Floaters: Shahar Peer, Jamila Gajdosova, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Francesca Schiavone
Probably the toughest quarter in terms of seed depth and Slam winners, the “Serena Section” (as Serena would probably call it) is pretty deep, including a Wimbledon winner, a French winner, and an everything winner (Serena). Serena’s roll to the semis would go through Romania’s Edina Gallovits-Hall, then likely Maggie Rybarikova, (28) Yaroslava Shvedova, (14) Kirilenko, and (29) Stephens. That’s right, Stephens to get to the quarters since Kvitova and Schiavone can’t play their way out of paper bags right now (but watch for Stephens vs. Petrova in the 3rd round). Tough opening match-ups are (20) Yanina Wickmayer vs. Aussie (WC) Gajdosova, (12) Petrova vs. the ageless Date-Krumm, and (29) Stephens vs. the breast-reduced Halep. Also Kvitova and Schiavone will face off in the first round to see who is the worst active Slam winner on tour.
Seeds of Note: (4) Aggie Radwanska, (6) Li Na, (9) Sam Stosur, (13) Ana Ivanovic, (18) Julia Goerges, (22) Jelena Jankovic, (32) Mona Barthel
Floaters: Sesil Karatantcheva, Coco Vandeweghe
Lots of name seeds, until you realize half of them are washed up, chokers or both. Radwanska is the big dog here, entering Melbourne with two WTA titles in two weeks of play. Her road is not that easy with newcomer ass-kicker (32) Barthel in the 3rd round, then one of the Serb former No. 1s, either Jankovic or Ivanovic. If she were to reach the quarters, likely waiting for her would be (6) Li, who already has a title under her belt this year. Openers to watch for are (6) Li vs. Sesil “Rope a Dope” Karatantcheva, (27) Sorana Cirstea vs. the American banger Vandeweghe, and the Chinese name-check match-up of Yuxuan Zhang vs. Jie Zheng. This quarter is a toss-up, and Radwanska has played a lot of tennis coming in, probably too much.
Seeds of Note: (2) Maria Sharapova, (5) Angie Kerber, (11) Marion Bartoli, (15) Dominika Cibulkova, (25) Venus Williams, (30) Tamira Paszek
Floaters: Anabel “Funky Cold” Medina Garrigues
Is Maria still injured or not? Is Venus still sick or not? Is Bartoli still doughy? Is Kerber still suffering from what doctors term junkus-in-the-trunkus? Too many questions to know what direction this shaky quarter will go in, but a good opportunity for Kerber to go deep to start the year. Maria and Venus are lined-up for a 3rd round meeting, while Kerber Baby could see the dangerous Paszek in the 3rd round. (11) Bartoli starts against Medina Garrigues, the heroine for Spain in their Hopman Cup win.
We’ll go out on a limb and take Serena in the semis over Azarenka, and beating Li in the final. Who is your pick in this year’s Australian Open women’s final?
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