The Final 8. The women who have made it to Istanbul Turkey to fight it out for top dog, the best woman tennis player of 2012.
As usual, they have been divided into two groups.
I think it's safe to say the Red Group is where the battles will be. Of the four women in that group Li Na is the weakest. She's been listless all year and seems hard pressed to show that she can hold her concentration for an entire match.
Serena hasn't played since the US Open. This can cut two ways. She's had time to rest herself mentally and physically after a grueling summer. A totally rested and focused Serena is a scary proposition. Then again she could be a little rusty from lack of match play so it's also possible her matches could be closer than anticipated.
Victoria Azarenka has to keep her emotions in check. She's going to be in a war. No one is going to give her anything. Her H2H is even at 4 with Li and 1-10 vs Serena. She has a winning H2H, 2-0 against Kerber.
Angelique Kerber is going to have to up her game. She's been found lacking in a lot of her matches towards the end of the year and could crash out of contention early unless Li totally implodes. Their head to head is 5-1 in favor of Li.
As for the White Group there's going to be a two woman race there unless Petra Kvitova beats the demons in her head and Sara Errani manages to play fearlessly.
Maria Sharapova owns the head to head against Aga 7-2 and there's no reason to think that pownage will change. Pova should blow Errani off the court - they've only played once and Pova won.
The biggest wild card in the group is Petra Kvitova who, as I said earlier this year, doesn't care for the limelight and tends to lose her way mentally during a match.
As regular readers know this is not the blog to rely on if you can legally wager on tennis. My opinions are just that, opinions. Anything can happen during a round robin tournament. I'm hoping for competitive play from both groups.
Play starts tommorrow with the following line up:
Order of Play Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Stadium (from 17.00hrs)
1. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Petra Kvitova
2. Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Sara Errani
End Of Year Tournaments
Venus Williams won her first title in a while in Luxembourg despite problems with her back.
Juan Martin del Potro won in Vienna.
Andreas Seppi won Moscow for the ATP
Caroline Wozniacki won the WTA Moscow crown
Tomas Berdych won Stockholm
I saw absolutely none of the above tournaments. I'm not proud to say that but after the US Open it takes a lot to get me to watch tennis. Of all the wins the biggest, in my opinion, is Berdych defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Stockholm.
Caroline Wozniacki defeated Samantha Stosur in Moscow. I think it's safe to say that Stosur's US Open win was a fluke.
Venus is supposed to beat Monica Niculescu no matter what her physical condition.
Delpo played Qualifier Grega Žemlja in his final.
Seppi beat the erratic Thomaz Belluci in his final.
Silly season? I wouldn't say that since it's insulting to the men and women who fight and claw their way to finals when to top players have other things to think about at the end of the year.
The men are playing in Basel and Valencia this week, and Paris next week. I hope to get to see Juan Carlos Ferrero play his final tournament in Valencia.