Monday, July 2, 2012

Wimbledon 2012 Women's Quarter Finals Preview

On a rain shortened Manic Monday at Wimbledon, the only consolation was that at least the ladies completed their round of 16 matches. The quarter-final line-up is set, and despite Maria Sharapova's exit, there are still many top players left and some enticing match-ups to look forward to.

Sabine Lisicki (15) vs. Angelique Kerber (8)
Sabine Lisicki just continues to be one of the most dangerous players at Wimbledon. If she could even translate half of her form on grass to other surfaces, Lisicki would be a top 10 player. Her serve and all-round play against Maria Sharapova was simply breathtaking. The way she dominated the match against the world number 1 and French open champion was a real surprise.

On the other side of the net, her compatriot Angelique Kerber has been playing some inspired tennis. Her ruthless demolition of Kim Clijsters might have caught many by surprise, but this talented southpaw has been on the rise since her semi final appearance at the US Open last year. She has remarkable accuracy on her ground-strokes, and her ability to retrieve makes her one of the best defenders on tour.

This match is simply too close to call, and should really go to three sets. Lisicki has the serve and power to her advantage, but Kerber has the ability to expand rallies and also find some great angles that could frustrate Lisicki. Ultimately Lisicki's mental fortitude could well be the defining factor in this match.

Agnieszka Radwanska (3) vs. Maria Kirilenko (17)
Radwanska has gone through the draw slightly unnoticed, and the talented third seed might just find that to her liking. After years of underachievement, Radwanska has finally established some consistency to her game. One of the few top ranked players whose game is not solely based on power, Radwanska's craft makes her a joy to watch.

She really should have too much for Kirilenko, although the relative veteran can at times be inspired against better opponents. Kirilenko will be Radwanska's toughest test so far, possibly taking a set to a tie-break, but Radwanska should have all the tricks in the bag to see this through.

Serena Williams (6) vs. Petra Kvitova (4)
The player with the most grand slams against the reigning Wimbledon champion. Many would have liked to see this match as the final. Such is the luck of the draw, that these two will play a hotly contested quarter final.

Both Kvitova and Serena have faced some difficult matches so far. Serena probably didn't expect to face two consecutive tight three-setters in the third and fourth round. Kvitova also had an extremely tough match against Francesca Schiavone but once she found her range completely dominated the third set.

Serena's never-say-die attitude and experience give her the edge. If Kvitova finds her range early and uses her left-handed angles well, Serena might struggle to keep up with her. Kvitova's best chance is to dominate and finish points early. However, if the match goes to a third set, Serena's experience and the vital advantage in serve should see her through.

Tamira Paszek vs. Victoria Azarenka (2)
If this match was played a round before, I would give the big-hitting Austrian a genuine chance of an upset against Azarenka. Paszek has displayed some great hitting allied with composure in tough situations to get this far, culminating in a ruthless performance in the fourth round against Roberta Vinci.

The only problem for Paszek is that Victoria Azarenka finally got rid of her rust, and displayed an even more ruthless performance against a tougher opponent, dismantling Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-0. Add into the mix that Azarenka beat Paszek in last year's Wimbledon, and the outcome seems inevitably to be a victory for the Australian Open Champion.