The round of 16 was officially complete on Saturday with two more top ten seeds heading out of the competition. Zheng Jie made a stunning start to 2012 by winning the title in Auckland and she has maintained her unbeaten start to the season in Melbourne as she knocked out the number 9 seed, Marion Bartoli, 6-3 6-3. Zheng started to show signs of recapturing the form that took her to two Grand Slam semi-finals at the end of 2011, but I felt her big weakness was the serve, particularly in the 2nd serve. Zheng had no such problems with it today winning 71% of first serves and 50% of second serves. Jie’s movement has also been terrific so far this and she allowed Bartoli just 7 winners compared to the 28 she produced. Zheng will play Sara Errani in the next round, who came back from the loss of a tight first set to ease past a struggling Sorana Cirstea, 6-7 6-0 6-2.
My predictions have been especially poor this week and the dominance of Maria Sharapova is something I did not see coming. Sharapova has probably been the most impressive of all the women so far as she produced a devastating performance to beat Angelique Kerber, 6-1 6-2. I fancied Kerber to take out Sharapova in my original predictions, but she was completely outpowered by the Russian who hit 34 winners throughout the 1 hour 27 minute contest. Sharapova will play Sabine Lisicki in the 4th round, which will be a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon semi-final. Once again, I called this one wrong as Lisicki came back from a set and a break down to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2-6 6-4 6-2. Lisicki looked to be falling to a limp defeat, but showed an incredible amount of fight to turn the match around against the mentally unstable Russian. Kuznetsova is without doubt, the most frustrating player on the WTA tour in her ability to lose concentration and focus at key moments and turn into a mental wreck!