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The Elite Eight: Previewing the Women's Quarters | January | 2013 Articles

The Elite Eight: Previewing the Women's Quarters

Written by Andrew Moffa on .

Four great rounds of tennis are already in the books down in Melbourne, Australia. However, there is still a long way to go before a Men's Singles Champion and Women's Singles Champion are crowned. Let's a take a quick look at the four matches which make up the Women's Quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open.

Women's Quarterfinals

Na Li [6] vs. Agnieszka Radwanska [4]

This match, which will be the first match up on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday in Melbourne, figures to be a great one. Both players are coming into this match in great form and neither has really been challenged yet in this tournament. It is important to note the difference in the playing styles of Na and Radwanksa. The Chinese veteran, who already possesses a Major Championship, is a power player who has the ability to hit with the likes of Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Since finding a different coach other than her husband, Na has looked great, showing the ability to mix it up and play smart tennis. She has already won a tournament in 2013, yet fell to Radwanska 6-3 6-4 in the semifinals of Sydney a few short weeks ago. The 23 year-old Pole has yet to lose in 2013 and is playing some of the best tennis of her life. She has to be feeling confident after already beating Na this year, but I have the feeling this match may be different. Na Li loves playing in Melbourne, where the crowd really loves her. However, this match is during the day, meaning the crowd may be less of a factor. Because I picked Na Li to make it to the semifinals before this tournament started, I am sticking with my pick. Na will overpower Radwanska in three tough and dramatic sets.

Ekaterina Makarova [19] vs. Maria Sharapova [2]

As much as I hate to say this about a quarterfinal in a Major, this match, in my opinion at least, will not even be competitive. Sharapova has been in just amazing form, recording 6-0 sets on just about everyone she has played (except for Venus Williams). While Makarova has some great talent and upset Serena Williams here in the fourth round last year, she will be no match for Sharapova. Maria's groundstrokes have been as dominant as ever, and she is returning as well as she has in her entire career. While her serve has left time at times in this tournament, I expect it to be much better in this quarterfinal. Even if Makarova really comes out firing, I do not think she has the ability to keep it up over the course of the entire match, which she will have to do if she is going to do the impossible. As for the pick, Maria Sharapova will put on a vintage performance under the lights on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night in Melbourne. She will be into the semifinals with yet another straight-forward win. Serena, watch out...

Victoria Azarenka [1] vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana Kuznetsova, the savvy Russian veteran who has 2 Major Championships to her name, is the only unseeded player left in the Women's draw. However, do not sleep on the 27 year-old, who has battled back from injury and is playing some of the best tennis of her career. She is coming off of an emotional three-set win over former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, and now she has a shot to take out the current No. 1 player in the world, Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka, who started off this tournament in style, struggled mightily against Jamie Hampton of the United States in the third round. She was able to rebound and take care of business impressively in the fourth round against another Russian, Elena Vesnina. Vika, the defending Champion, should be fully confident that she can win this tournament for the second time. This match will come down to which woman makes less mistakes and stays cool and collected out on court. Both Kuznetsova and Azarenka can get very emotional during matches, but both players will need to keep their emotions in check if they expect to win. While I am very impressed at how Kuznetsova has played throughout this tournament, her ride will end in the quarterfinals with a three-set loss to Victoria Azarenka. 

Serena Williams [3] vs. Sloane Stephens [29]

Yes, there is an all-American matchup in the second week of a Major. No, this is not a match between Serena and Venus Williams. Tennis fans all around the world, say hello to the game's next superstar... Sloane Stephens of the United States of America. This 19 year-old really burst onto the scene at last year's French Open, when she made a run to the fourth run. Now, she finds herself in her first Major quarterfinal against a role model and friend, Serena Williams. Williams has just been in tremendous form so far in this tournament, recording 6-0 sets almost as often as Maria Sharapova. Williams already has a 6-4 6-3 victory over Stephens a few weeks ago in Brisbane, but the match was more competitive than the score may indicate. Stephens played Serena very tough and figures to do it again in what will be the biggest match of her life. As is the case with any underdog, Sloane will have to get off to a good start in this match, as she cannot afford to give away a break early. It will also be important for Stephens to try to get the Australian crowd behind her. This will not be easy as Serena Williams is a superstar in just about every city she plays in. I am very excited to watch this match and see what Sloane Stephens is made of, but at the end of the day, Serena Williams will be moving on after another straight-set victory. Enjoy the tennis!

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