1. Serena Williams v Sabine Lisicki (Miami, QF)
A Wimbledon rematch is on the cards on Wednesday as Serena Williams will take on Sabine Lisicki in the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. Their last match saw Lisicki stun the world number one in last 16 action at SW19. Lisicki prevailed for the biggest win of her career, 6-2 1-6 6-4, and en route to reaching the Wimbledon final. Lisicki’s year has rather suddenly turned her year around; Lisicki won just one out of seven matches through the first two months of the season and came into Indian Wells off the back of a straight sets loss to Alexandra Dulgheru in Kuala Lumpur. I still remember reading the dejected tweets from Sabine fans on Twitter. However, the German player has had a terrific March with back-to-back quarter-final appearances in Indian Wells and Miami.
Lisicki reached the semi-finals of Indian Wells, saving match points in her quarter-final against Flavia Pennetta before falling in three sets to Jelena Jankovic in the semi-finals. Her most recent performance in Miami was something special. Lisicki dismantled Sara Errani, 6-1 6-2 in just 57 minutes. Lisicki was hitting tons of winners and playing with so much confidence. It really was a sight to behold to see Sabine PEAKING away from the grass. She’s very much a confidence player that also drives off an atmosphere. She has always struggled to string it all together with inconsistency and injuries getting in the way. I’m still not convinced whether she can carry this form into her next tournaments, but it’s a start! Serena produced her best performance of the week in the last 16 with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kuznetsova played well, but Serena was just too good in this match. I liked their exchange at the net…
In their only other completed match apart from Wimbledon, Serena won in Stanford in 2011. Lisicki is one of the few players who I believe has that ability to find another level and therefore, actually beat Serena. In equal measures, Lisicki could also just not turn up, miss the court entirely and sink without trace. I’d actually fancy Sabine to get a set in this one. She was so positive in her match against Errani and that confidence should feed into this quarter-final. Serena was superb against Kuznetsova though and she’s still my tip for the title.
Prediction: S.Williams d. Lisicki in 3 sets
2. Simona Halep v Sloane Stephens (Miami, QF)
The Indian Wells-Miami double is still on for Simona Halep, who defeated Flavia Pennetta in the fourth round, 6-3 7-5. Halep won the last five games of the match to seal her 13th consecutive win in one hour and 31 minutes. In a Bouchard-less section that has seen a number of surprise results, Sloane Stephens has emerged. Stephens hung on for a straight sets win over Belinda Bencic, 6-4 7-6(5) in what was a thrilling match. The first set was super quality and the best i’ve seen in Miami (i’d even stretch as far to say one of the best sets i’ve watched all year). I’m looking forward to catching up with the second set. This is the best tennis i’ve seen Sloane play and I think her partnership with Nick Saviano is magic. He’s great with her on the changeovers and his advice seems to be being taken on board by Sloane. Despite the results, I wasn’t convinced by Saviano’s partnership with Bouchard but in my opinion, this one works. Halep and Stephens are tied at 2-2 in the head-to-head; Halep won their most recent match at the French Open last year, 6-4 6-3. I’ve been so impressed with Sloane this week, but Simona is on a rampant run of form right now…
Prediction: Halep d. Stephens in 2 tight sets