Sony Tennis Open 2013: Predictions for Singles Action in Miami

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2013

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 26:  Serena Williams plays a match against Li Na of China during Day 9 of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 26, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There are only four women and six men left standing in Key Biscayne in Miami coming into Thursday's Sony Open singles action, where defending women's champion Agnieszka Radwanska looks to return to the final with a win over Serena Williams in the semis.

Other notable names in action on Thursday are Maria Sharapova, past men's champion Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, who will all be looking to survive and advance into the weekend. 

With four colossal singles matches scheduled for Thursday, here we'll predict who will advance.


(1) Serena Williams vs. (4) Agnieszka Radwanska

Serena Williams is the top overall seed in the women's draw for a reason. A five-time champion in Miami and two-time runner-up here, the 15-time Grand Slam winner has a decorated past at this Premier Tournament too good to dismiss, and is playing some of the best tennis of her career at the moment.

That's why I like the current world No. 1 to upend the reigning WTA Sony Open champion on Thursday.

Agnieszka Radwanska is one of the most talented young players in the women's game, of that there's no doubt. However, Williams has owned her as of late, taking her out in straight sets in Istanbul last October and defeating her in the Wimbledon final last July.

If there's one overwhelming stat in favor of the 31-year-old Williams, it's that she has never lost to the 24-year-old Radwanska in four career matchups dating back to 2008.


(2) Maria Sharapova vs. (22) Jelena Jankovic

Maria Sharapova has been cursed in Key Biscayne over the years, it seems, finishing as the runner-up four times since 2005. However, the Russian star is too talented to continue to fall short in Miami.

Having not yet dropped a single set at this year's tournament, I like Sharapova to defeat 2008 runner-up Jelena Jankovic on Thursday afternoon, setting up a potential dream matchup between her and Serena Williams in Saturday's women's final.

The 28-year-old Jankovic has had a tremendous run herself in Miami over the past week or so, but she's looked vulnerable at times, squeezing out wins over Nadia Petrova and Roberta Vinci.

Sharapova versus Jankovic isn't a matchup we've seen too often over the years, but the former has won the past two meetings, which makes her a popular pick in Thursday's semifinal.


(2) Andy Murray vs. (9) Marin Cilic

Reigning U.S. Open champion Andy Murray has made some deep runs at the Sony Open in recent years, winning the tournament in 2009 and finishing as runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year. On Thursday, look for Murray to advance to the semis with an easy victory over Marin Cilic.

Murray hasn't dropped a set in Miami yet this March, while Cilic has been living life on the edge, riding second-set tiebreaker wins to all three of his match victories thus far.

Murray outlasted Cilic in four sets the last time these two met at the 2012 U.S. Open, and has won five straight matches against the right-handed Croatian dating back to 2010. Yes, Cilic is among the top men's players on the planet, but Murray and the other members of the Big Four are in their own universe.


(4) Tomas Berdych vs. (8) Richard Gasquet

Fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych is scorching-hot coming into his quarterfinal clash with Richard Gasquet on Thursday. The Czech player dismissed American Sam Querrey in straight sets in the fourth round on Tuesday, dropping just two games in total in the 6-1, 6-1 win.

In addition to defeating Gasquet in straight sets earlier this month at Indian Wells, Berdych is one of the best returning players on the men's side this season, winning nearly 60 percent of his second serve return points in 2013 (via ATP MatchFacts).

Look for Gasquet to put up a solid effort on Thursday, just as he did at Indian Wells. However, in the end, Berdych will be too strong to overcome.

A runner-up at this tournament three years ago, Berdych has come too far to lose in the quarters.


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