Friday, August 26, 2011

2011 US Open Women's Preview

Here’s the crux of the women’s preview for this year’s US Open: Unless she falls down and breaks a hip, Serena Williams should easily win the tournament. Since that’s not at least a hundred words, I’ll handicap the rest of the field – although most of them are handicapped enough already.

1. Caroline Wozniacki -- Because I wrote an entire post about her the other day, all I’m going to say about Wozniacki is – what a waste of a good draw. She doesn’t really have a lot to trouble her before the quarterfinals, but if she gets there she’ll probably lose to Na LI (Li Na) or Andrea Petkovic.

2. Vera Zvonareva -- Zvonareva didn’t get nearly as lucky as Wozniacki. Her potential opponents in the fourth round are Venus Williams and Sabine Lisicki. Even if she gets to the final eight, she may have to play the infuriating Marion Bartoli (tell me you don’t want to slap her when she’s bouncing up and down and swinging her racket at an imaginary ball). Look for the sequel to There Will Be Blood here – There Will Be Hysterical Crying— at some point in the next two weeks.

3. Maria Sharapova -- When I heard Monica Seles’ comparatively almost dainty grunting watching the clip of her match against Capriati, I wondered if she hates herself for what she wrought. And honestly, Azarenka makes Sharapova seem like a silent monk. In May, I stated that Sharapova had her best chance ever to win the French Open. She didn’t. Then in June, I called her the favorite to win once Clijsters pulled out. She didn’t win that one either. You can argue that this is her best surface. I’ll counter argue that she still has to serve half the games in every match. Whether she even makes it to the semifinals depends more on how Petra Kvitova and Aggie Radwanska play than anything she does.

4. Victoria Azarenka -- I wouldn’t have given her much of a chance to win anyway because she’s only ever gotten to one grand slam semifinal. But here’s all you need to know: She’ll meet Serena Williams in the third round.

5. Petra Kvitova -- It used to be fun to write these previews. Players like Capriati, Hingis, the Williams sisters. They were all larger than life and there was always something to say about them. Kvitova won Wimbledon and I’ve barely heard her name since. She has a good chance of getting to the final. Yawn.

6. Na Li -- Na Li (Li Na) has had two amazing tournaments this year. She got to the final of the Australian Open and she won the French Open. Take those out of her year and she’s a mediocre 16-11. So who will show up? Na Li or Li Na? It’s anyone’s guess.

7. Francesca Schiavone -- She’s fun to watch. She’s funny to listen to. So pay attention during the first week because she’ll probably lose to either Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round or Serena in the quarterfinals.

8. Marion Bartoli -- No.

9. Samantha Stosur -- For a minute last year, it looked like she might break through and contend for major titles. Then she did what everyone not named Williams or Clijsters have done for the past five years. She just went away. It’s too hard to be good.

10. Andrea Petkovic -- If Marion Bartoli is NO, Andrea Petkovic is YES! She’s the female version of Novak Djokovic – off the court. She’s beaten the Wimbledon champ twice this summer, but hasn’t been able to back it up with a tournament win on hard courts. If you can’t win in Cincinnati or Toronto, you probably won’t win in New York. She’s got as good a shot as anyone of getting to the semifinals and losing to Serena though.

11. Jelena Jankovic -- In 2005 I made the declaration that Jankovic would probably never win a major. From that point until 2008, she climbed from number 22 in the world to number one. But guess what. She never won a major. And she never will.

12. Agnieszka Radwanska -- She a poor man’s Martina Hingis. But just like being smart doesn’t count for much in politics anymore, it doesn’t count for much in women’s tennis either. Because of how inconsistent Kvitova and Sharapova have been all summer, she could end up in the semifinals, but I doubt it.

13. Shuai Peng -- The rest of the top 16, starting here, are cannon fodder. Even double-faulting twice a game, Sharapova will probably still beat her in the fourth round.

14. Dominika Cibulkova -- Cibulkova could find herself still on the court in the quarterfinals. But that’s only because Venus Williams and Zvonareva are always a threat to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

15. Svetlana Kuznetsova -- Absolutely NOT!

16. Ana Ivanovic -- Did you know this former French Open champ used to practice in a swimming pool in Serbia because of all the bombing in that region in the 90s? Did you care? She’s pretty.

19. Julia Goerges -- I only threw her on this list because she beat Wozniacki two weeks in a row this year (an accomplishment that means less every time Caro steps back out on the court lately). Plus, she’s in the same quarter with Shuai Peng and Sharapova so why not? She’s as likely to get to the quarterfinals as they are.

21. Daniela Hantuchova -- I keep wanting Hantuchova to become the female Mardy Fish and discover the will and ability to win matches late in her career. It’s probably not likely.

22. Sabine Lisicki -- I don’t want to curse her like I did Anna-Lena Gronefeld and say she’s going to be competing for majors for most of this decade. So I’ll say that she’s got a big serve and a lot to like in her game. Plus she seems to really have a good attitude. Just like with Julia Georges, being in the same quarter with Venus and Zvonareva means absolutely anything can happen.

28. Serena Williams -- When Serena wins this tournament, she’ll have won a major five years in a row for the first time in her career.

Venus Williams -- She’s unseeded and barely noticed by the media right now. If this were Wimbledon I’d say that’s a dangerous combo for her. But it’s not Wimbledon and it’s hard to see her getting much farther than the round of 16 here.

Serena def. Petkovic
Kvitova def. Zvonareva

Serena Williams

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