Archie is not a betting dog, but if he were he'd be betting on Victoria Azarenka tomorrow.
I figured I'd have a little fun with some of the quarterfinal matches and see who my best friend in the world (see pic above) Archie was picking. He and I did a trial run last week, after the Djokovic-del Potro match was suspended after two sets. I placed two treats out in front of him -- one labeled Djokovic and the other labeled del Potro -- and asked him to pick the treat representing the player he thought would prevail. Lo and behold, after hesitating a bit (it wasn't an easy pick for him) and drooling some, he snapped up the Djokovic treat. Smart dog, that Archie.
So I decided to put him to the test again today. I asked if he'd pick one of the women's quarterfinal matches for The Fan Child's faithful. He agreed, so without any further ado, here is that pick.
Na Li vs. Victoria Azarenka: H2H
Archie's Pick: Azarenka
Why: He likes the way she howls, and he also likes her footwork.
My Pick: Li
Why: 8 years separate these two ball-crushers in terms of age, but they are very evenly matched when it comes to their respective games. Azarenka has become the betting favorite for Paris, and she is the highest-ranked player left in the draw, but what worries me is the fact that she really hasn't been tested at all in Paris. She's won every set she's played, and naturally that's not a bad thing, but she's only defeated one seeded player in the process (# 30 seed, Roberta Vinci). When Azarenka steps out onto Chatrier tomorrow, she'll be facing her first world-class player in five matches.
The 21-year-old Belarusian is gunning for her first Grand Slam semifinal, and she's got the all-court game, footwork, and versatility to get it done -- but will she have the grace under pressure?
Li, meanwhile, will benefit in the confidence department from having won 3 of 4 from Azarenka in her career, especially given that the last win was a huge Australian Open 4th round tilt that Li won in straight sets en route to her first career Grand Slam final .
This should prove to be a very close match with a lot of ebb and flow, and it very well could come down to who can execute their game when the pressure is at its highest. If it does, I like Li. She's won some huge matches in 2011, and her post Australian Open slump looks to be a distant memory.