This is one of my favorite things to do right before the majors. It's much easier to do for the Open because the draw comes out on Thursday rather than Friday. The French Open is all but impossible because the draw comes out on Friday and play starts on Sunday. I should have the men's preview done by Sunday midday.
1. Caroline Wozniacki -- Wozniacki is the number one seed, but does anyone really expect her to even repeat her result from last year (reaching the final)? That said, look at the rest of the draw. Without Serena, is there anyone else that is more deserving of the top seed? She'll make the second week, but probably only the first day of it.
4. Jelena Jankovic -- Five years ago I predicted big things for Jankovic. Now I can hardly even be bothered to look at her quarter of the draw. I do hope she gets to the quarterfinals because the drama quotient of a Jankovic/Zvonareva match certainly could make for good television. I doubt she'll live up to her seed here, but there is good news. She's only 25, so she'll probably have many more opportunities to squander.
5. Samantha Stosur -- Her 2010 win/loss record up to and including the French Open: 32-8. Since the loss to Francesca Schiavone in the French Open final: 6-4. Which Stosur shows up here, the one that posted wins over Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jankovic in one week; or the one that lost to players ranked out of the top 50 in the next two tournaments after that? If she's even a little off her game, her fourth round match against Elena Dementieva could be a whole lot of trouble.
6. Francesca Schiavone -- In a related story, since winning the French Open Schiavone is 3-5 (with two of those wins coming in one tournament). Let's face it. She's probably been drunk every night since June 5. And why wouldn't she be. If she doesn't win another match the rest of her career she'll barely care. If she gets to the fourth round, Victoria Azarenka should beat her fairly easily.
8. Na Li (Li Na) -- I still haven't figured out how I'm supposed to write her name. All three of her losses at majors this year have been to the player that ended up winning the tournament. I only mention that because there's a good chance it's going to happen again here. She should get to the quarterfinals.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska -- She's a poor man's Martina Hingis. She can hang around the top ten, but she's never going to win seven matches in a row at a big tournament.
11. Svetlana Kuznetsova -- She could make it to the quarter-finals, or she could lose in the first round to 40-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm. Who knows? More accurately, who cares?
13. Marion Bartoli -- Other than her bizarre trip to the Wimbledon final in 2007, Bartoli has never been a factor in a major championship (one other quarter-final finish in ten years). No reason to think she'll be one here.
14. Maria Sharapova -- The biggest obstacle in Wozniacki's quarter isn't the erratic 8th seed Li Na (Na Li -- still not sure). It's Sharapova. After losing tough matches in the last two majors (Henin on clay, Serena on grass), Sharapova has this summer played the best tennis since before her shoulder injury. She reached the final at Stanford and in Cincinnati, where she had match points against Kim Clijsters but couldn't put her away. She may get another shot at her two weeks from now.
15. Yanina Wickmayer -- Surprise semi-finalist last year, Wickmayer has had a decent year. Nothing spectacular, but no reason to think she won't get to the second week either. Don't expect another trip to the semi-finals though.
16. Shahar Peer -- If the draw opens up just right, Peer could end up in the quarter-finals. She could also flame out early. The latter is more likely.
Normally, I'd profile a couple of the lower seeds that could do some damage, but I really don't believe there are any. Nadia Petrova and Daniela Hantuchova could knock off a higher seed in the third or fourth round, but it's beyond unlikely that either of them will still be around deep in the second week.
For the first time in a while, there are no dangerous floaters like Clijsters last year or Sharapova and Henin earlier this year. It's a fairly short list of people with a real shot at winning it this year, even though the ESPN commentators talked about how wide open the field is without Serena. If I had to pick one low-seeded player with a chance of doing some damage, it would be Kaia Kanepi. She was on the rise before she got hurt a year or so ago and she looked good at Wimbledon until she melted down in the quarter-finals. Plus, she's in Jankovic's section.
There is, however, a crying game in the first round when Hantuchova meets Dinara Safina. Those of you that drink should do a shot every time it looks like one of them might break into tears. You'll be passed out before the second set starts.
Sharapova def. Zvonareva
Clijsters def. Azarenka
Clijsters (or Sharapova)