The WTA action moves to San Diego this week with another solid field for the U.S. Open Series. Jelena Jankovic, Sam Stosur, Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska are the top seeds. Stosur and Radwanska had a good tournament in Stanford, while Jankovic and Zvonareva are making their hard-court summer debuts.
Here's how I think things will go down this week:
This is a strong section with Alisa Kleybanova a likely first round opponent for Jankovic. In the bottom part of the section Jie Zheng, Daniela Hantuchova and Marion Bartoli all loom. I think Jankovic will squeak past Bartoli in three sets in the quarters.
Radwanska shouldn't have much trouble making it to the quarterfinals, although Dinara Safina could be a second round opponent. Shahar Peer, Nadia Petrova and Ana Ivanovic are all in the bottom part of this section. I look for Petrova to come through this, but I think Radwanska will knock her off in the quarterfinals.
Zvonareva is coming back from an injury, but as long as she's healthy I think she'll cruise to the quarters. Yanina Wickmayer is coming off a strong effort in a loss to Stosur at Stanford. Wickmayer will be tested right off the bat in San Diego as she plays Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round. The winner of that match stands a good chance of making it to the quarters. I think Wickmayer's game is about to take off and I'm picking her to beat Zvonareva in three sets in the quarters.
This is a wacky and tough section. First on the top part you have Flavia Penetta and Maria Kirilenko headed for a second-round match-up. On the bottom part Melanie Oudin will face Victoria Azarenka for the second straight week. Last week I said Oudin would beat Azarenka, which didn't happen. Azarenka is coming off a great tournament at Stanford and she might be playing some of the best tennis of her career. This time I'm taking Azarenka. If she wins that match she will then face Stosur for the second consecutive week. Azarenka has never lost to Stosur, in fact she's never lost a set, so once again I'm taking Azarenka. You have to think at some point Azarenka will get tired from a lot of matches in a two-week span, but I'm still picking her to beat Penetta in the quarterfinals.
Jankovic vs. Radwanska
This is an interesting match-up of two steady counter-punchers. Jankovic has a little more experience and I think she's going to have a strong summer.
Pick:Jankovic in three sets
Wickmayer vs. Azarenka
This could be quite the slugfest. The two have never played before. Wickmayer still throws in a few too many double faults (like Maria Sharapova) and in the end I think Azarenka will pull through.
Pick:Azarenka in two sets
Jankovic vs. Azarenka
Azarenka is playing great tennis right now. She's moving much better, coming into the net a little more and serving consistently. Azarenka seems to be enjoying herself and in a good place on the court and playing with confidence. However, the big question will be whether she will get tired as the week goes on from all the matches she's played. I think she's has won more big win left in her.
Pick:Azarenka in three sets