Nick's Picks will be coming to you live from The Sony Ericsson Open from March 25th-29th. Follow along for predictions, picks, and insight into the tournament on the blog and on TennisWeek.com.
Dinara Safina (RUS) vs. Sam Stosur (AUS)
Stosur comes into the tournament ranked #42 in the world in singles and #8 in the world in doubles. She is a great doubles player, as she was ranked #1 in the world just a couple of years ago.
Safina's record speaks for itself and as the #2 seed she is going to be the favorite in just about every match she is in. When I watch her play, she reminds me of a boxer who is going for the knock-out punch every time she swings.
Safina is 3-0 against Stosur, but the two haven't faced since 2007. Stosur is an excellent mover, has an excellent two-handed backhand, and is very comfy at the net. She cannot win this match from the baseline. She has to get a high percentage of first serves in and attack constantly to have a chance. Safina will play offensive tennis 99.9% of the time because she loves to control the action. The one thing she has to do is watch her emotions and stay in control because when she does that she has the tendency to throw away a couple of games.
Nick's Pick - Safina in 2 sets
Elena Dementieva (RUS) vs. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
Dementieva reached the finals of this tournament back in 2004, and she has had great success here in the past. She beat a talented youngster, Anastasia Pivovarova, who trains at the NBTA, in the second round.
Suarez Navarro is making her first appearance at the Sony Ericsson Open, but in the last year she has really made a name for herself by playing well in the big tournaments. She reached the quarterfinals at the 2008 French Open and the 2009 Australian Open and really impressed me at both tournaments.
Dementieva is 1-0 against Suarez Navarro, with that win coming earlier this year in the quarterfinals of the Aussie Open. Suarez Navarro is a crowd pleaser, especially in Miami. Her one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty and she covers the court as good as anyone. Even with the crowd behind her, I don't think it will be enough for the Spaniard. Dementieva's groundstrokes are some of the best on tour, and when you combine that with her movement you get a lethal combination. The only thing holding her back is her serve (which has gotten better), and if it falters at all in this match Suarez Navarro will pounce. This will be an exciting match, and I give the edge to Dementieva.
Nick's Pick - Dementieva in 3 sets