The 2014 Sony Open – much like the 2014 BNP Paribas Open – is another huge tennis tournament outside the four Grand Slams. The outdoor hard-court tournament begins this week and features many of the top men and women players in the game.
PREVIEW: Raise your hands if you had 20th-seeded Flavia Pennetta winning at Indian Wells over the weekend. The 2014 BNP Paribas Open was one of the strangest (and more open) tournament the WTA has had in a couple of years. Will the same trend continue in Miami? Victoria Azarenka has been ruled out with a foot injury, Maria Sharapova has not looked good so far this season, and despite winning the Australian Open Li Na didn’t establish herself as the woman to beat at Indian Wells. However, Serena Williams does return following her BNP Paribas boycott. Can her re-establish order in the women’s game? See the women’s draw here.
QUARTER #1: Top seed and defending champion Serena Williams headlines this section of the draw. Other than perhaps being rusty, one would find it difficult not to see her emerging here. No. 16 Sam Stosur would the highest seed she could face before the quarterfinals. The top seeds on the opposite side of this section are No.5 Angelique Kerber (who lost in the second round at Indian Wells) and No.9 Sara Errani (who has won just a set off Williams in six career meetings).
Quarterfinals: Serena Williams vs Sara Errani
Winner: Serena Williams
QUARTER #2: It’s been a disappointing start to the season for No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova following early exits at Melbourne and Indian Wells. Perhaps she could get some confidence back with a kind draw. No. 16 Sabine Lisicki (a grass-court specialist) is the other high seed on her side of this quarter. On the opposite side the other top seed is the maddenly inconsistent No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova. Can she be trusted to make a deep run at Miami? Pay close attention to Indian Wells winner No. 20 Flavia Pennetta as well as No. 12 Ana Ivanovic. With Pennetta still basking in her win last week, perhaps Ivanovic should be the slight favorite here.
Quarterfinals: Maria Sharapova vs Ana Ivanovic
Winner: Ana Ivanovic
QUARTER #3: No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska is not the overpowering player like the other top ranked players, but her path to the quarterfinal does not look overwhelming. No. 18 Eugenie Bouchard is a dangerous name but the teenager has not gotten to the stage where she is a consistent threat in every tournament. The other top seed is No. 6 Simona Halep, who is getting to be like Radwanska in that she is capable of going deep in these big tournaments but incapable of finishing the deal. Dominika Cibulkova is a name to watch in this part of the draw, as is No. 29 Venus Williams. Serena’s big sister has looked good so far in 2014 (which includes a tournament win at Dubai) and should be a popular darkhorse at Miami.
Quarterfinal: Agnieszka Radwanska vs Simona Halep
Winner: Agnieszka Radwanska
QUARTER #4: Will No. 2 seed Li Na should be over her disappointment of not winning at Indian Wells – a tournament she was favored to win in Serena’s absence? Her draw should give her a chance to get over it, with hardly a stumbling block of note through to the quarterfinals. On the opposite side No. 7 Jelena Jankovic and No. 17 Sloane Stephens should be the favorites to make the quarterfinal in this group. If these two meet in the fourth round as expected, the slower courts could be an advantage for Jankovic, whose groundstrokes are steadier than the young American’s.
Quarterfinal: Li Na vs Jelena Jankovic
Winner: Li Na
SEMIFINAL #1: Remember when Ivanovic took out Serena in the fourth round at the Australian Open earlier this year? Well, let’s just say that Serena hasn’t forgotten about it either.
Winner: Serena Williams
SEMIFINAL #2: This is normally the stage where Radwanska falters. There seems to be some sort of psychological hurdle whenever she reaches near the finish line of these big tournaments. If Li Na can simply keep the unforced errors at a minimum she should have little trouble here.
Winner: Li Na
FINAL: Li Na has shown that she is capable of hugging the baseline and slugging it out with Serena Williams. She is one of the few players on the WTA who does not get overwhelmed by Serena’s power tennis. In fact Li Na actually loves the pace. In the end, she is the player whose game is capable of breaking down at any moment. Serena not only plays a powerful brand of tennis, but it is a controlled one as well. Look for the top women’s player in the world to triumph in straight sets.
Champion: Serena Williams
Who will win the women's singles title at the 2014 Sony Open?
- Serena Williams (53%, 8 Votes)
- Someone else (27%, 4 Votes)
- Agnieszka Radwanska (13%, 2 Votes)
- Maria Sharapova (7%, 1 Votes)
- Li Na (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 15