So the ladies’ draw is out for the Indian Wells tournament (click here) and the first question that comes to mind is: Really, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki are the top seeds?
I mean no offense to either of these players – it’s just a jarring reminder that Serena (boycott) and Dinara (back) are not showing up in the desert this year. Venus joins her sister in sitting out this top-tier tournament.
The second question everyone is asking: Where are the Beligans?
Let’s take a look at how things could shake out at Indian Wells this week. Keep in mind that every single seed (including the Rezai’s and Kirilenkos of the world) get first round byes at this tournament – way to kill the first round drama, WTA.
FIRST QUARTER (top half)
Seeded quarterfinal: Svetlana Kuznetsova (1) vs. Jelena Jankovic (6)
Look out for: Kim Clijsters, Shahar Peer
The No. 1 seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova, could face No. 14 seed Kim Clijsters in the Round of 16. But Alisa Kleybanova, who got very close to taking out the other comeback Belgian at the Australian Open this year, is a possible third round for Kimmie. Carla Suarez Navarro and Agnes Szavay are also in this section of the draw. Flavia Pennetta, Shahar Peer, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika Cibulkova are all possbile quarterfinal opponents for Clijsters or Sveta.
SECOND QUARTER (top half)
Seeded quarterfinal: Victoria Azarenka (3) vs. Sam Stosur (8)
Look out for: Yanina Wickmayer, Melanie Oudin and defending champ Vera Zvonareva. Ana Ivanovic, last year’s finalist (wow, right?) and the 2008 champion, is also in this section.
This is a fun part of the draw. Third seeded Victoria Azarenka leads this quarter. I’d love to see her take on either Yanina Wickmayer or Melanie Oudin in the Round of 16. No 8 seed Sam Stosur is Vika’s seeded quarterfinal, though defending champ Vera Zvonareva and last weekend’s Monterrey champ, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, will be fighting for the apot. Ana Ivanovic could face Zvonareva in the third round – a replay of last year’s final.
I know she’s not Belgian or Russian, but I feel like giving Ana a little boost:
THIRD QUARTER (bottom half)
Seeded quarterfinal: Agnieszka Radwanska (5) vs. Elena Dementieva (4)
Look out for: It’s all about wild card Justine Henin
Poor Elena, another big tournament, another section shared with Justine Henin. But at least they can’t meet until the quarterfinals. Besides these two, this is the Agnieszka, Marion, Francesca section of the draw. So we’re either getting what we all really want to see – another matchup between Justine and Elena – or, well, where’s Maria Sharapova?
FOURTH QUARTER (bottom half)
Seeded quarterfinal: Li Na (7) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (2)
Look out for: Maria Sharapova
Dolce, we’re not in Memphis anymore! Maria, seeded 10th, is in the tricky, bottom-most section of the draw. Li Na is her seed for the Round of 16, but she’ll have a tough path just to get there. The winner of Jelena Dokic vs. Vera Dushevina will play Maria in the second round, and if Maria gets past that, Zheng Jie is her likely third round (and a nightmare match up for her, if she’s anything less than dialed in.) Assuming Maria makes it to the quarters, she could face an even more steady opponent – No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki. Maria is probably praying for Nadia Petrova, instead. Or maybe she’s hoping that Maria Kirilenko finds her way through to the fourth round – nothing like revenge to carry you into the semis.
The men’s draw will be posted on March 11.