Quick Hits From The Sony Ericsson Open in Miami

Sergey ZikovSenior Analyst IMarch 24, 2009

Surf's up, tennis junkies!

You all know what that means. It's time again for the Sony Ericsson Open from Miami, Florida!

Like a freshly plucked Florida orange, most players who make up the draws are coming straight from Indian Wells. 

However, defending men's champion Nikolai Davydenko will not be in the draw, so we will have a new ATP champ. Davydenko has not played since Rotterdam, where he lost in the second round to Julian Benneteau of France in straight sets. 

Serena Williams on the other hand, will definitely be on hand to defend her title. She is the No. 1 overall seed yet again.

Caroline Wozniacki, featured above with a surfboard, will be seeded 13th after a quarterfinal loss in Indian Wells to eventual tournament champion Vera Zvonareva. 

Now for a little analysis of the men's side.


Which seeded player has the easiest road to the quarterfinals?

Roger Federer. There really isn't any player that would give him a major challenge in reaching the quarters. Of the possible seeded opponents for Roger, none match up very well against him - Nicolas Kiefer (3-11), Tommy Robredo (0-8) and Nicolas Almagro (0-5).

None of the wild cards or non-ranked players look to present much of any challenge to Federer.


Who has the most challenging road to the quarterfinals?

Andy Murray. The committee didn't do the Scot many favors when selecting the brackets. He could face an improved Mardy Fish, Richard Gasquet or the always tough-out David Nalbandian.

Many of the other players could also present a challenge, including Nicolas Massu or Juan Monaco.


Who is a seeded player who could surprise?

Radek Stepanek. The world No. 19 got snagged by Sam Querrey in the second round at Indian Wells, but the Czech is a special hard court player.

He earlier won the hard court title in San Jose and then turned in a valiant performance in the finals of Memphis, losing to Andy Roddick.


And a player to keep your eyes on?

Yuki Bhambri. Never heard of him? You're not the only one. The 16-year-old phenom from India is in the draw as a wild card.

He's also got some wild talent and this could be a preview of things to come. Don't expect him to take out Andy Roddick if the two meet in the second round, though.


Lastly, who will the four semifinalists be and who wins?

Semifinalists will be Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Roddick. Nadal will then trounce a worn-down Andy Murray yet again, and Roddick will defeat Tsonga in three sets.

From there, Roddick will give Nadal a very competitive match again but come up short.

Rafael Nadal wins again!


Now for the women's side.

Which seeded player has the easiest road to the quarterfinals?

Vera Zvonareva. The Indian Wells champion is just absolutely on fire and I don't see anybody in this section being able to remotely challenge her. Nadia Petrova hasn't played since she got hammered by Zvonareva in the Australian Open and neither Aleksandra Wozniak or Ai Sugiyama will be able to match her power.


Who has the most challenging road to the quarterfinals?

Victoria Azarenka. If there is any player on tour who could come out of this section, it's Azarenka. Despite losing to Zvonareva at Indian Wells, she couldn't be playing any better right now. But she will have a very grueling path.

She could face Indian Wells diaper dandy Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round, followed by any of Daniela Hantuchova, Melanie Oudin, Anna Chakvetadze. Lastly would come a possible match with Ana Ivanovic. That's fun. 


Who is a seeded player who could surprise?

Caroline Wozniacki. If you've read any of my work before, you would know that nobody is a bigger fan of Caroline than myself. But this pick is justified. She faces a fairly simple draw, with no serious tests for a couple rounds. If it does get to a matchup between Caroline and Elena Dementieva, I like Caroline's chances.

In their two previous matches, they have been incredibly close regardless of the winner. 


And a player to keep your eyes on?

I've got two. Sania Mirza and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Mirza may very well be the best player nobody has ever heard of. After a finals appearance in Pattaya City, she has lost in the second round twice in a row.

But don't be fooled. She is a very challenging out for any player and will certainly give Dinara Safina all she can handle.

If you don't know about Anastasia yet, I'd suggest jumping on the train. She is 100 percent for real. Her run to the semifinals of Indian Wells wasn't an accident and she will also be a potent challenge to Victoria Azarenka.


Lastly, who will the four semifinalists be and who wins?

Hmm. So many to pick from! Give me Vera Zvonareva, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka. Venus will keep her undefeated run since the Australian going with a very close win over Vera, and Victoria Azarenka will beat Wozniacki with two tiebreakers. 

Give Venus another championship, as her experience will overcome Azarenka in straight sets.