The question on everyone’s list after Indian Wells must be, “So what do they do for an encore?”
It’s a particularly apt question for the WTA. I don’t know how many people penciled in 20th-seeded Flavia Pennetta as the winner of last week’s Premier Mandatory event, I just hope that those who did had the good sense to bet the farm on her, or at least buy a Powerball ticket based on some numerical combination of her date of birth and won-lost record.
Occasionally, an unexpected if not entirely unreasonable winner like Pennetta emerges to make us re-think the pecking order. But it isn’t nearly as often that the entire pecking order gets upset. So as we head into Miami, we’re not just wondering how much more of a surprise the WTA can spring on us (Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova winning the title? A qualifier making the final?), we’re also obliged to ask if the feverish competitiveness at Indian Wells was a fluke.
This week’s Premier Mandatory event will be different in one conspicuous way: Serena Williams will be back. Yet imagine the unthinkable: An early exit by Serena. Without Williams around to ride herd, anything can—and probably would—happen. Victoria Azarenka is out of commission (foot), and neither Maria Sharapova nor Li Na has established credentials as the woman to beat.
With all that said, and with clay on the way, who will make a big statement in Key Biscayne? Click on the banner below for a quarter-by-quarter preview and predictions.
For more of this week's Tennis Tuesday, click here.