Sunday, June 22, 2008

WIMBLEDON 2008: Women's Top 10 Preview

The Wimbledon Women's Singles draw is now available. Here are my prediction's for the Top 10 Seeded players.

1. Ana IVANOVIC (SRB). The reigning Roland Garros champion is now the World #1 player and is playing her first major tournament seeded #1. Last year she had the misfortune to be in the path of Venus Williams' rampage to the title although she did play a stirring match against Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinal the round before her thumping loss to Venus. Happily, this year Ivanovic's draw insures an almost clear path to a semi-final clash with 2-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams. Different Williams sister, same result. PREDICTION: Semi-finalist.

2. Jelena JANKOVIC (SRB). Last year, the less successful of the Serbian duo had her string of major semi-finals snapped by shock Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli in a tough 3-set 4th round match. It was that match that made many a fan of "Maid Marion" although in the past year the Frenchwoman has not been able to repeat her success, she has managed to stay very close to the Top 10. Wimbledon has been Jankovic's least successful slam, never getting past the 4th round here. But this year Jankovic enters the grass court tournament having taken an unusual hiatus (for her) since the Roland Garros heartbreaker she lost to Ivanovic. Thanks to her improved seeding Jankovic shouldn't face another Top 10 seed until she meets Venus in the quarter-final, if Venus gets that far. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist.

3. Maria SHARAPOVA (RUS). As usual, the draw is pretty kind to the WTA's "It Girl." Sharapova has potential match-ups with Sybille Bammer or Dinara Safina/Lindsay Davenport/Elena Dementieva/Lucia Safarova before a blockbuster semifinal against Venus. Sharapova likes grass and will be looking for revenge against whomever makes it out of the top half of her quarter. Personally I hope that it is Lindsay, but I think it will be Safina. And that's probably good news for Sharapova. PREDICTION: Semi-finalist.

4. Svetlana KUZNETSOVA (RUS). This year Sveta has a very nice draw and should have few problems getting to a quarterfinal against Serena. Unfortunately, Sveta appears to only play well every other year at Wimbledon and 2008 is scheduled to be an off year. As long as no-one tells her this, she should be able to match her best result at Wimbledon, otherwise Aggie Radwanska or one of the Bondarenko sisters could take her out in one of the early rounds. Losing early in a Wimbledon warm-up shouldn't increase her confidence. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist (at best).

5. Elena DEMENTIEVA (RUS). If she survives a 3rd round match-up with Lindsay Davenport, the quietest of the Russians will face Safina who just beat her at the 2008 French Open and then Sharapova after that. That is a gauntlet few players would survive and Dementieva has never played her best at Wimbledon, preferring the hard courts of America. PREDICTION: 3rd Round Loss.

6. Serena WILLIAMS (USA). Serena has already expressed "sadness" about Justine Henin's recent departure from competitive tennis and if you believe that I have a great bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Her draw is definitely tricky, with a potential 3rd round match with fading Amelie Mauresmo and a 4th round match with quirky Marion Bartoli. After that she could face a quarterfinal against Kuznetsova and a semifinal against Ivanovic. All of these are matches the 8-time Grand Slam champ could win with about half of them being matches she should win. I'll put my money on another all-Williams final. PREDICTION: Finalist.

7. Venus WILLIAMS (USA). The "best grass court player of her generation" (as commentator Mary Carillo calls her) is the defending Wimbledon champion. In typical Williams fashion, Venus has not played a single grass court match since her Cinderella run to the final in 2008. However, she has a pretty good draw, with only Sania Mirza, Daniela Hantuchova and Jankovic standing in her way of a potential semifinal showdown with Maria Sharapova (or possibly Lindsay Davenport). The question is, will Venus circa 2007 show up or will it be Venus circa 2004? Not having seen her play recently, I still give her great odds to get to her seventh Wimbledon final in 9 years. PREDICTION: Finalist.

8. Anna CHAKVETADZE (RUS). (Un)fortunately for Chakvetadze, she is in newly minted World #1's quarter of the draw which is relatively free of dangerous players. But it only takes one to take you out of the tournament and Ivanovic will happily do the job. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist.

9. Dinara SAFINA (RUS). The 2008 French Open finalist has put the physical side of her game together and is starting to maximize her considerable tennis talent. Now comes the harder question of whether she can make the parallel improvements to her mental fortitude. A quarterfinal run at Wimbledon will indicate she is well on her way to doing just that. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist.

10. Daniela HANTUCHOVA (SVK). The only player in the Top 10 who is
not from Russia, United States or Serbia, the Slovak is an excellent
grass court player, and if she is healthy should do well at Wimbledon this year. After last year's operatic loss to Serena Williams in the Round of 16, Hantuchova
can't be too happy that this time it's Venus that she could meet in this year's Round of 16. PREDICTION: 4th Round Loss.

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