WTA Premier Event – Doha
Final: Victoria Azarenka vs. Serena Williams
Time: 10:00 AM EST, Sunday February 17th
Head to Head: 1-11
Amy: I expected Serena to come back strong after her loss to Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open, and this is a great match-up for her. Serena in straights.
Juan José: At the start of the tournament, the big question in my mind was how healthy was Serena Williams. After watching her against Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova, I’m still not quite sure what the answer is. I do know that Serena is healthy enough to claim the #1 ranking, and we all saw how much that meant for her. But this is not Slam-winning Serena out there in Doha. On the other hand, Victoria Azarenka is quite healthy, and seems to be extremely comfortable in the slightly cold Middle East. She was absolutely ruthless in her dismantling of Radwanska today. I think the soon-to-be World No. 2 has been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, a day when she could have a very realistic shot at beating Serena Williams. I think Azarenka will take it, winning 6-3, 6-2.
Lindsay: This is the match-up that everyone was hoping for at the Australian Open, but we only had to make it a few more weeks before it manifested. Azarenka is No. 1 today, Serena will be No. 1 tomorrow, and both want to prove that they are the best. I actually think this is a great chance for Azarenka to get a win over Serena – Serena hasn’t been 100% all week, and Azarenka is in fine form. However, I still see Serena taking it, albeit in three sets.
ATP 500 – Rotterdam
Final: Julien Benneteau vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (0-0)
Time: 8:30 AM EST, Sunday February 17th
Head to Head: 0-0
Amy: It’s the closest thing you can get to a surefire pick: Julien Benneteau in a final. Del Potro, who’s looked solid throughout the tournament, not even dropping a set, should be able to get the job done in straights.
Juan José: Julien “0-7 lifetime vs. Jarkko Nieminen” Benneteau was very impressive against Federer the other day. He returned serve beautifully, and pounded Federer’s backhand corner mercilessly. He’ll need to do more of that against Del Potro, and it does help that the erratic Frenchman likes to go down-the-line with his backhand, since Del Po tends to be Del Cross-Court off that wing. Still, Juan Martín del Potro is not a bad player of title matches, and I think he has too much firepower off the forehand wing for Benneteau. It’ll take a set for the man who lost to Chardy at the Australian Open to get used to Benneteau’s tricks, but once he settles into the match, Del Potro will win, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Lindsay: OH GEEZ YOU GUYS. I can’t even handle this. Benny is going for his first title in eight tries. He’s played really well all week, upsetting Federer and then not having a letdown against Simon. If he serves well he definitely has a chance. But Del Potro is the better player. Benny will have an early lead, like a set and a break, but Del Potro will win in three. Life.
ATP 250- Sao Paulo
Final: Rafael Nadal vs. David Nalbandian
Time: 11:00 AM EST, Sunday February 17th
Head to Head: 4-2
Amy: Based on what I’ve seen from Nadal, I have a really hard time picking him against a quality opponent. If he wasn’t standing to return serve in Siberia, I’d probably still go with Nadal. But I have to pick Nalbandian in three, unless Nadal’s form jumps dramatically from what he displayed against Martin Alund.
Juan José: It’s pretty amazing that Nadal enters this match as a sort of underdog. Then again, that’s what happens when you lose sets of tennis played on clay to Charly Berlocq and Martín Alund (who had never won an ATP match until this week). The Bacardí spokesman is not only troubled by more knee pain and very patchy play, but is set to face a guy who always gives him fits. Nalbandián’s two-handed backhand, once one of the great shots on tour, deals very well with Nadal’s lefty forehand, and the crafty Argie is also fond of getting into contests where he tries to find the most obscene angles on the court. Normally, Nadal would relish this challenge, but his play in Brazil has been utterly mediocre. Still, the glimmer of hope for Tío Toni’s nephew is that Nalbandián is making a less publicized (understatement) comeback of his own, so it’s not like the seven-time French Open champion will be playing Fall of 2007 Nalbandián. Still, I did catch the third set of Nalbandián’s impressive performance against Almagro, and I do think the race car driver wannabe is playing at a level that is sure to give Nadal quite a bit of trouble. I see the man from Córdoba winning 7-5, 6-4.
Lindsay: This is a very interesting match-up, since Nadal has been far below his best all week and Nalbandian has a rare bout of momentum and confidence. Nalbandian has given Nadal trouble before, but since 2007 Nadal has always been able to get through. I actually think that facing an opponent as good as Nalbandian will settle Nadal down a little bit and force him to take his chances. Nadal will survive in three.
ATP 250 – San Jose
Final: Tommy Haas vs. Milos Raonic
Time: 6:00PM EST, Sunday February 17th
Head to Head: 0-0
Amy: For whatever reason, I don’t trust Tommy Haas to win this match. Maybe it’s left over distrust from his five set first round loss to Jarkko Nieminen at the Australian Open. At any rate, I think Raonic will win in three.
Juan José: Who picked this final five days ago? I did! Yes! I haven’t watched a single minute of San José, but all I know is that Milos Raonic has yet to lose a single set in any of the matches he’s played there in the last 3 years. Which is pretty crazy, even if the Canadian hasn’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of opponents there. However, waiting in the final is old man Tommy Haas, who easily dispatched John Isner today. The Nike fan couldn’t ask for a better practice round ahead of the final, really. I think Haas will find ways to get into Raonic’s service games, and he will dominate the rallies with his pretty backhand. Haas will win 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. I predict that Raonic will create only one break chance during the whole match.
Lindsay: Milos Raonic was only seven years old the first time Tommy Haas played in San Jose. That’s insane. Milos was scary good today, but that was against a very lackluster Querrey. Tommy Haas can return serve and expose a lack of movement, as he did with Isner today. But Milos is the GOAT of San Jose, and his confidence level in that arena is at another level. He’s never lost a match. Haas is 13-11 in finals, MIlos is 3-3 in finals. It’s a real toss-up for me, but I think that Tommy Haas will be spurred on by having his family there and will take it in two sets.
1. Amy: 16-4 Matches with Correct Number of Sets Picked: 9
2. Juan José: 13-7 Matches with Correct Number of Sets Picked: 6
3. Lindsay: 12-8 Matches with Correct Number of Sets Picked: 8