As this week's cavalcade of clay-court contests comes close to a conclusion (how's that for alliteration?), most of the results have stayed pretty true to what could have been expected, with no major upsets. Here's what i think will happen the rest of the way. If you want, feel free to go here
to vote on the match of the day, Serena vs. Maria. (I'm going with Maria):
• Maria Sharapova will go back-to-back, taking out Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic along the way to win her second title in as many weeks, this time in Charleston. I think those two (and Elena Dementieva, who's also still in the draw) are better dirt-ballers than Maria, but the way she's been playing this year has been Williams-like, to say the least.
• Nicolas Almagro (he of future top 10 as predicted by Tennis Talk, Anyone? fame
, will bag his third title of the year in Valencia. That Juan Monaco matchup will be tough, but I see my man Nic getting through. Three's the magic number for him here because he'll also be going for his third Valencia crown.
• James Blake breaks through on the clay at the Houston Challenger. What's that you say? It's on the ATP big boys calendar? I couldn't tell with the draw looking like it did. If JB says, "Hey, I'm the only big dog here; they should start engraving my name on the trophy now," he'll be in good shape. He just can't doubt himself, particularly with facing Augustin Calleri next.
• Since he just broke streaks in Miami against two guys that owned him, Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal, Nikolay Davydenko should be able to maintain his form and take out Roger Federer in the finals in Estoril. I'm going with Maria Kirilenko or Tathiana Garbin to pick up the women's crown.
(Photos: Blake, Sharapova: AP; Davydenko: Getty Images)