1st Quarter: JJ's home free
Given JJ's lack of match play coming into the Open she couldn't have asked for a better draw. She should have no problem playing her way into the quarterfinals. A first round matchup with Meusburger, second round vs. Flipkins/De los Rios, and a third rounder with Ai/Dechy? Come on. Fourth round could bring Mono or Safarova (and don't count out the hard hitting Pironkova). But the reality is that none of those girls can either (1) hit JJ off the court or (2) out scramble and retrieve her. So she'll have four fairly easy matches to get used to conditions and match play.
The other side of her quarter is anchored by Bepa and Nads. Nads will get dusted early. I don't see her getting past the second round. Bepa has a pretty easy section as long as she can get past Rybarikova, who made it to the semis of Hobart this week. Bepa is coming off an illness that forced her out of Sydney but she showed good form in Hong Kong and there's no reason she shouldn't make it to the quarterfinals. Again, just get past Rybarikova and then play your way into it.
Which means a JJ vs. Bepa in the quarterfinals. This is such a tough one to predict without having seen JJ's new found form. But I guess I'll go with JJ, though I"m REALLY rooting for Bepa here.
2nd Quarter: Dinara's minefield
Let's start with Dina. A potentially tricky first round match against Alla Kudrywhatever. So long as Dina doesn't come out in that stupid pink think she should be ok. Otherwise the fashion faux-pas might fill Alla with mutant-like rage and inspire her to strike down her fellow Russian with great vengeance and furious anger. Alla gave Nikki a tough three setter last week in Brisbane, but that's like being the tallest midget in the circus. After Alla Dina could get Twilight-crazy Aravene Rezai, which won't be a cakewalk but she doesn't have enough weapons to beat Dina. Her next tough test will probably be The Cone in the fourth round. This will be already the third time they will have played this year and if there's one thing the first two meetings have shown, it's that Alize competes well but just doesn't have the firepower to beat Dina. She's also been playing a lot of tennis, though the same can be said of Dinara too. But I still think Dina's good for the quarterfinals.
Anchoring the other side is Baby K. Sigh. I mean, do I have any reason to think she'll get to the quarters? If she does, I will count this tournament a success. She's got the toughest quarter alongside Serena's mainly because of matchups. Baby K doesn't do well with with hard, flat hitters (see her winless record against Lena) and her section is full of them. If any of these girls get hot (Goerges, Kleybanova, Dokic), she's in for a tough go. A fourth round matchup with Ski Boots is looming, and when they met in the fourth round last year, Ski Boots competed well, eventually losing, 61 76(2). She's a much better player now and Ana is, arguably, not in the form she was a year ago. Of course, this assumes that Boots even gets through her section, which is not easy at all. She shouldn't have any problems through her first two rounds, but the third round will be tricky, with Dokic/Pazcek/AKO/and Chakky all looming.
So that means it's Dina vs. Ana/Caro. I honestly think any one of these could take it depending on their form. It's all matchup based. If it's Dina/Baby K, I'll go with Dina because I dont think Baby K will be prepared for the new and improved aggressive Dina. If it's Dina/Boots, I think i go with Boots. Caro would give Dina fits with her retrieving abilities. The more balls Dina has to hit, the more frustrated she'll get and then all hell will break loose.
Yes, I'm wussing out and not picking any one of them. They're my faves and I just can't do it.
Though off the record? Dina.
3rd Quarter: Venus FTW
Venus destroyed the field in HK and she's been hunkered down in Melbourne for the past week practicing. She wants this. She's got a really easy road to the quarterfinals but she'll probably be going up against the most in form player of the moment, Lena. I would say that Flava Flav has a chance to knock her out in the fourth round, but she hasn't been playing well leading up to Melbourne.
As for Lena, she's going to have to work to get to the fourth round. She'll likely have Benesova, who made the finals in Hobart, in the second round. I think Sabine Lisicki is going to have a good run here and could meet Lena in the third round but the match I'd be interested to see is Domi vs. Lena in the fourth round. It really could happen and Domi could give her a match if she doesn't wear herself out in the early rounds.
But I do think it'll be Venus vs. Lena in the quarters. I put my money on Venus because her serve gives her a better chance to hold easily and Lena is always breakable. It's a shame because Lena SO deserves to get to the semis. I wish she was in JJ's draw. That'd be a fun match to watch.
4th Quarter: Serena semi-bound
When Kuzzie is anchoring the other half of your quarter you know you're in pretty damn good shape. That said, Serena's section of that draw is tricky. She has a potential second rounder with Gisela Dulko, who played well in Hobart this week. Third round could be the pesky Tranny Schiavone, and the fourth round could see the white hot Vika, who has the game to challenge Serena.
In the Kuz half I gotta go with A-Rad or Zheng. That whole section is a shit show to be honest, with the injured Kuz, slumping Nikki, and crazy Bonderenkos. All I know is whoever makes it out of that section will get crushed by either Serena or Vika.
It's a tough call between Serena and Vika. Vika looked really strong in Brisbane. She played well, was tested, and showed a lot of heart and competitive fire in pulling out some wins. If she plays as well as she did in Brisbane I think she could make her first grand slam semi. But in the end I think experience will win out and Serena will make the semis.
JJ vs. Dinara -- JJ
JJ vs. Ana -- Ana
JJ vs. Boots -- Boots
Serena vs. Venus -- Venus