Missed the Point? Well, you know what? It missed you, too! VANtage Point is back at Down the Line! after skipping a week due to the length of the BNP Paribas Open. The same is probably going to happen for the Sony Ericsson Open, which is kicking off today. But we’ll worry about all that later; right now it’s VP time!
A Look Back: Who wudda thunk it, Vera Zvonareva taking a big title? I’m glad to see her pull it off, even if she had to take out my pick, Ana Ivanovic, to do it. On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal beat Andy Murray easily. Both of those guys took out my picks for the finals, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer, respectively, in the semis. All in all, I’m not too disappointed with my tournament calls: Six out of eight possible semifinalists is all right (plus the Victoria Azarenka over Dinara Safina pick), but I have to get some champs right before I get put on notice here!
This Week’s Spotlight: While it was tempting to break down the draw at the men’s Challenger in Khorat, Thailand, I can’t ignore the “Fifth Slam” taking place in Miami, the Sony Ericsson Open (I’m so old school, I still think of this as the Lipton). The defending champs are Nikolay Davydenko, who’s still laid up with injury, and Serena Williams, who owns this event. The gangs are pretty much all here with Nadal and Williams leading the way as the top seeds.
Players to Watch: Let’s start with the women. I think you have to take a look at the Williams sisters first of all. Skipping Indian Wells hasn’t hurt Serena and Venus here in the past, and I think they’re capable of big runs. Then there’s a group of three players I’m going to lump together: Safina, Elena Dementieva and Jelena Jankovic. For some reason or another, they haven’t maintained their high level of play that they had over the past six months. I can see all of them falling fairly early. And will Ivanovic and Zvonareva’s good form continue? As far as lower-seeded players go, watch out for Dominika Cibulkova.
For the men, I just want to say this first: I picked him to make the semis last week in Indian Wells and he fell early, but if Jo-Wilfried Tsonga doesn’t do that this week, then I’d say he’s slumping. The highest-ranked player he’d have to face is Novak Djokovic, who he seems to own now. And I think you have to have your eye on Roger Federer. Provided he gets by Roddick in the quarters, he should have a good shot to the finals.
The Final Fours: For the women, I’m taking Serena over Venus and Ivanovic over Svetlana Kuznetsova (remember her?) As far as the guys go, you’d think these guys should only meet in finals now, but I like Nadal over Murray, and in the other half, Federer over Tsonga.
And the Winners Are: Everything goes right for Serena here and there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue. On the men’s side, I’m taking Nadal over Federer. Again, there’s no VANtage Point next week, but it’ll be back just in time for the clay-court season to really kick off!
Van Sias writes the blog Tennis Talk, Anyone?
(images via getty)