Sunday, January 16, 2011
Australian Open Preview -- Women's Draw
I'm not sure getting to the final or winning this tournament should be the goal of any of these women right now. If you look at the last three women's finals here, with the exception of Serena in 2009 (and she wasn't as lucky in 2010) everyone that has played in this final fell apart either physically or emotionally (or both) by the end of that same year. In fact, of the five of them (Serena, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ianovic and Dinara Safina) only Serena is even still in the top ten. But she's been injured since right after Wimbledon so she will not be defending her title. No matter. Like it or not, someone is going to win this tournament so let's look at the chances each of them have.
3. Kim Clijsters -- On paper, Clijsters is the favorite. She won the US Open and the YEC. She wouldn't have to face Wozniacki or Venus Williams until the final. But funny things can happen here. She could face either Nadia Petrova or Ana Ianovic in the round of 16. Petrova tuned her up 6-0, 6-1 here last year. Until Ianovic got hurt in Hopman Cup, she was playing some of her best tennis in two years. Still, without Serena in the draw Clijsters has to be the favorite.
5. Sam Stosur -- In the olden days (the 60s and 70s), Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court both padded their Grand Slam totals in their home country by winning about 40 Australian Opens a piece (look it up -- I'm only exaggerating a little). These days, the home court advantage doesn't seem to apply for either the women or men of Australia. Stosur is definitely capable of going on a tear here. The question is can she keep her head about her to win the last match.
6. Francesca Schiavone -- The 2010 French Open notwithstanding, Schiavone is at best a quarter-finalist in the slams. But there's no reason to think she'll do any less than her best either. (Oops, I guess there is one reason. I didn't notice that she'd have to beat Justine Henin in the fourth round.)
7. Jelena Jankovic -- No matter which round Jankovic loses in, there will be drama.
9. Na Li -- She just beat Clijsters to win the tournament in Sydney. That should give her confidence. She also has a great draw. If there's a dark horse to be had in this tournament, it's Li. Or Na. Who knows.
10. Shahar Peer -- Really? Shahar Peer is the tenth seed. I haven't even seen her play in about 10 years so I have no idea what she'll do. Well, I know she won't be around for the second week.
12. Agnieszka Radwanska -- She's right where she belongs -- in the fourth round.
13. Nadia Petrova -- Petrova always has a chance to slay a dragon, but she's never displayed enough heart to win seven matches in a row.
15. Marion Bartoli -- Yawn.
16. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova -- Who?
Henin defeats Li
Clijsters defeats Zvonareva