With players like Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters out with injuries for extended periods of time, when they come back their rankings are so low we get marquee match-ups in events earlier than expected. Such is the case at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open as the comeback of Venus Williams gets an early round test from Ana Ivanovic. This clash between former world #1s almost didn’t happen as Venus was taken to the brink by Aleksandra Wozniak before escaping, 4-6 6-4 7-6 (5). Wozniack served for the match at 5-4 in the third and had Venus down match point but then couldn’t find the court for the next 5 minutes. It was a perfect example that even for the best players in the world, the nerves can bite them in pressure situations. Experience counts. Venus handled the pressure when she had to better than Aleksandra. However, Venus cannot get into the same situation with Ana Ivanovic or she might not escape. Now, to be fair, Ana has had her own history of not being able to close out top players…like last year in Miami when she let Kim Clijsters off the hook. Ana had Kim down 5-1 40-0 in the third set and somehow found a way to lose. I think this year it’s a different Ana. She is showing signs of returning to the top 10 and maybe better. Still, if she gets Venus down she will need to keep her down.
One player having no problems at all putting her opponents away in 2012 is Victoria Azarenka. She ran her perfect 2012 record to 25-0 with an emphatic 6-0 6-2 dismissal of Heather Watson. Watson does have potential. She has a lot of skill, but she just lacks a real weapon. She could use a little more pop on her shots. Against Vika, she just doesn’t have to tools to threaten the world #1. Azarenka would have to be really off of her game to let Heather into the match. On this day, there was no chance of that happening.
Singles – Third Round
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (WC) Heather Watson (GBR) 60 62
(5) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Sílvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 61 62
(7) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Simona Halep (ROU) 64 76(6)
(15) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (20) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 62 76(2)
(16) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Zheng Jie (CHN) 62 60
(22) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) d. Ksenia Pervak (KAZ) 62 61
(WC) Garbiñe Muguruza Blanco (ESP) d. (24) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 62 16 76(6)
(WC) Venus Williams (USA) d. (WC) Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 46 64 76(5)