It's been a while since we've had all the top ladies together in one tournament, and we're going to have to wait until Miami, because once again, the William sister's are sitting out of Indian Wells. World number 2 Dinara Safina is also out due to a back injury, and that leaves us with the dismal duo of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki as out top 2 seeds.
What the hell has the world come to when 2 extremely inconsistent women are headlining what's often referred to as a '5th Grand Slam'. Thankfully we have the fashionista Russian and those two Belgians to keep up the TV ratings. So, here is a breakdown of the BNP Paribas Open draw (click here to take a look for yourself).
Kuzzie is the tournament's top seed, and she definitely does not have an easy road to the semis, as there are plenty of solid hard-courter's in this section. To start, US Open champ Kim Clijsters, the 14th seed, is a potential 4th round opponent for the Russian. Alisa Kleybanova could also make some noise, and the same goes for 9th seeded Flavia Pennetta, 17th seeded Shahar Peer and 6th seeded Jelena Jankovic. Kleybanova and Peer have been the most impressive of this group as of late, specifically their strong performances in Fed Cup and in Dubai, respectively, but it's difficult to bet against Clijsters, who has a lot to prove after a crushing defeat in her last competitive match in, in Melbourne.
Quarterfinals: Kim Clijsters def. Shahar Peer
The 2nd section of the draw is relatively unpredictable with the often shaky Victoria Azarenka, the 3rd seed, leading the ladies, and Sam Stosur, seeded 8th, right behind her. Yanina Wickmayer has been playing with added motivation after her unfair suspension, and she is quickly showing she belongs in the elites. Her game fits the hardcourts well, and Indian Wells could be the perfect place for her to finally make her mark. Vera Zvonareva consistently plays her best tennis here, as she was the champion last year. Ana Ivanovic also lies in this quarter, but, as we all know, not much'll come out of that.
Quarterfinals: Yanina Wickmayer def. Vera Zvonareva
Elena Dementieva got extremely unlucky in Melbourne when the draw put her against an in-form Justine Henin in the 2nd round. Other than that early loss, though, the Russian has been dynamite this season, winning 2 titles by February. The 4th seed will possibly get a chance to avenge that Aussie Open loss in California, as she could meet Henin in the quarters. Dementieva won't have trouble reaching that stage, as Francesca Schiavone and Aravane Rezai, her two possible early-round opponents, are no match. Near Henin are Agnieszka Radwanska, Gisela Dulko, Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli, all talented hard-courters. I'm not expecting any of them, though, to knock out Henin prior to the quarters.
Quarterfinals: Elena Dementieva def. Justine Henin
The weakest quarter of the entire draw is probably the final one, as Wozniacki leads the pack with 7th seeded Li Na. Following those two are Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova, who are probably better bets than the formers to make a run. Sharapova has returned to form these past few weeks, with a title in Memphis, and Petrova looked revived in her dominating win over Clijsters at the 1st major of the year. Jie Zheng and Maria Kirilenko, both of whom also looked great in Oz, are also located in this section, as they could face Sharapova and Wozniacki in the 3rd round, respectively.
Quarterfinals: Maria Sharapova def. Nadia Petrova
Semifinals: Wickmayer def. Clijsters; Sharapova def. Dementieva
Finals: Wickmayer def. Sharapova
After following Yanina for these past few months, I'm really feeling her now. I know it's risky, but I see big things for the Belgian these next few weeks.