Baseline Buzz: Sharapova sizzling


LONDON -- The Czech Republic is an almond-shaped country of 10 million souls surrounded by Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland. It comprises 49,000 square miles, which is roughly the size of Mississippi or Louisiana.

So how did the Czech Republic become the epicenter of tennis? The men's Davis Cup, which advanced to the semifinals against France, is looking for a rare three-peat. In a single day, Friday, the Czech women placed four in the round of 16. How will they fare on Manic Monday?

No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska versus No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova

Carl Bialik: Radwanska has to like her chances of advancing to a third straight semi here. She dominated her first three opponents and dropped just nine games. But Makarova is dangerous, with 12 career wins against Top 10 opponents. Radwanska in three.

Greg Garber: Indeed, Makarova has some big scores against big players -- remember the fourth round of the 2012 Australian Open against Serena Williams? -- so I'll go with the upset. Makarova in three.

Melissa Isaacson: The two have played four times previously, all on hard courts, with Makarova taking the last match at the 2013 US Open. But Radwanska has won the other three. She's a 2012 finalist and has lost just nine games here this year. Radwanska in straights.

Matt Wilansky: Makarova has a sweet lefty serve and isn't afraid to rush the net. But Radwanska's counter-punching game has some juice on grass. Radwanska wins an easy two sets.

No. 5 Maria Sharapova versus No. 9 Angelique Kerber

Bialik: Sharapova had a very good Saturday. She looked formidable in winning the last 11 games against Alison Riske on Saturday. Then Sharapova's biggest rival, whom she hasn't beaten in 10 years and 15 matches, exited the tournament when Alize Cornet took out Serena Williams. Kerber is the highest-ranked player in Sharapova's quarter. Don't expect Sharapova to miss her opportunity to move ahead to a Serena-less semi. She'll win in three.

Garber: Once again, the Lords of Tennis have thrown Sharapova serious favor. Yes, No. 1 seed Serena Williams -- who Sharapova hasn't beaten in a decade -- is safely out of the tournament. Why wouldn't she find a way to beat Kerber in three?

Isaacson: Sharapova has to be thrilled to see the draw once again open up identically to the French, with Alize Cornet's upset of Serena Williams thwarting a potential quarterfinal between the two. But the French Open champion looked extremely confident before that. Sharapova in two.

Wilansky: It's like Roland Garros all over again. No Serena means the draw opens up for Sharapova. Kerber is a tough nut on grass, though. Sharapova in three.

No. 6 Petra Kvitova versus Shuai Peng

Bialik: Peng often plays her best tennis on grass, and this is her third round of 16 in four Wimbledons. It's her bad luck to draw another player who thrives on grass, especially when that player won here in 2011. Since Kvitova rarely makes it easy, she'll win in three.

Garber: If the hamstring remains sound, you have to like the former champion's chances here. That lefty serve loves the grass. Kvitova in straight sets.

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