Well, based on these results, this was a really stupid poll question to ask, so I apologize for putting it out there.
But I still want to at least try to make a case that Maria's last 3 opponents this year compare pretty favorably to last year's final 3.
Even though Stosur was ranked in the top 10 at the time, Sam is a player Maria has pretty much owned for her career and she's been inconsistent and prone to mental breakdowns. Was she really that great of an opponent? Now, looking at Ivanovic, she's slowly been getting better and better lately and clay is her best surface. She's won a French, unlike Sam, and she beat Maria at RG in 2007. I realize the Ana of that time is long gone, but she's been dangerous lately.
Then you have the semis from 2012 and 2013. I know Petra has that power game of hers that can always do damage, but is she really that dangerous on clay? At that point, her game was already deteriorating from her 2011 stellar form. It was a pretty tough 2-setter, but I think Maria was the clear favorite on this surface against her. And there's no doubt, when you look at the past 12 months, Kerber has been the far better player compared to Petra. Angelique beat Maria on clay last year at the Paris Open. And then you have the added advantage in Stuttgart of Angie playing in front of her home crowd to make things tougher on Maria.
Finally, the title matches. No doubt, Vika was such a huge match for Maria, not just physically, but psychologically. After those embarrassments in Melbourne and IW, Maria had to have been feeling a huge weight and pressure on her shoulders. And to see her defeat Vika so easily was one of my favorite Maria matches ever. But we are talking about Vika on clay, her worst surface by far. If Maria was going to end her slump against her, there was a great chance it would have happened on clay. But I think Li Na is superior on clay compared to Vika. She was the French champion, she has better results. Li was rested and had that recent big win against Maria in Melbourne. This was a huge challenge for Maria.
Just throwing it out there that this year's line of opponents were pretty darn good as well.