The Williams-less tennis window opens this week at the Sony Open in Miami, following Venus and Serena’s continued boycott last week of the Indian Wells event.
It was rumored that Serena (and Venus) were going to embrace the “Forgive and forget” message, inspired by the late Nelson Mandela and her Serena’s Jehovah’s Witness religion, but in the end — didn’t happen.
So now Serena returns to the court for the first time since her shock semifinal loss to Alize Cornet in Dubai, and Venus for the first time since winning the same Dubai event, spanking Cornet 6-3, 6-0 in the final.
An interesting note: Venus has reached two finals this year and Serena only one, and both lost early at the Australian Open. Which versions of the Williams sisters we’ll see this week in Miami remains to be seen.
Wildcards into the event are Vicky Duval, Indy De Vroome, Casey Dellacqua, Anett Kontaveit, Rebecca Peterson, Nadia Petrova, Heather Watson and Aleksandra Wozniak. That’s only one American out of eight wildcards, showing the Miami IMG-run event is anything but a showcase or support system for U.S. players.
“I’m really grateful for the wildcard,” Duval said at the draw ceremony. “I got my second WTA win here last year, so Miami has a special place in my heart. This is kind of where it all started. And there’s a big Haitian population here and the crowd was really getting behind me last year.”
Let’s see how the world No. 1 Serena’s and No. 29 seed Venus’ draws break down in Miami, as well as for the other 30 seeds and unseeded contenders:
Serena as well as all 32 seeds receive opening-round byes, but the draw has been kinder to some that others. Serena’s draw is decidedly middle of the road, starting against either over-the-hill French Open winner Francesca Schiavone or Yaroslava Shvedova, then proceeding to likely meet No. 27 seed Klara Zakopalova, No. 16 Sam Stosur, and No. 5 Angie Kerber to gain the semis.
Also in the quarter is No. 9 seed Sara Errani amongst a section almost completely void of challenging floaters.
No. 4 Maria Sharapova heads this section of the draw, with a forgiving road at least to the quarters where she will likely meet either No. 6 Petra Kvitova or No. 12 Ana Ivanovic. Sharapova will start after a bye against either German riser Annika Beck, or Japan’s Kurumi Nara who won her first career title earlier this year.
One of the few opening-round challenges goes to No. 14 Sabine Lisicki, who will start against either veteran wildcard Nadia Petrova or Urszula Radwanska. Also in this section are Indian Wells winner and No. 20 seed Flavia Pennetta who could eventually meet Ivanovic, and former No. 2 and No. 28 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova who is on a third-round collision course with Kvitova.
The third quarter is where the thus-far weak tea that is the women’s Sony Open draw gets a little flavor.
No. 3 Aggie Radwanska leads a pack that includes No. 6 Simona Halep, No. 18 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 10 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 29 Venus Williams, and No. 22 Alize Cornet. Facing tricky potential openers are Cornet vs. Andrea Petkovic, and Bouchard vs. Mattek-Sands. Potential third-round match-ups are Halep vs. Venus, Cornet vs. Cibulkova, and in the fourth round Radwanska vs. Bouchard.
Bouchard, if she can navigate her tricky opener, can see her draw open up.
Li Na’s reward as the No. 2 seed is a grouping with two former No. 1s and some early meetings with some young and hungry ball-crunchers.
Li after a bye will likely start against Russian Alisa Kleybanova, then either American Madison Keys or No. 31 seed Daniela Hantuchova. Also in the quarter are No. 7 seed Jelena Jankovic, No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 17 Sloane Stephens, and tough out No. 24 Kaia Kanepi.
In the fourth round look for likely meetings between Li vs. Kanepi and Jankovic vs. Stephens to determine who exits this quarter and eventually surfaces in the semis.
Sharapova seems to lack confidence, Radwanska is dealing with an Indian Wells injury, Pennetta will be gassed from her Indian Wells run — who is ready to step up?
Look for Serena vs. Ivanovic and Bouchard (taking advantage of a great draw) vs. Li in the semifinals, and Serena d. Li in the final.
Who do you see making a breakthrough or winning at Miami?
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