Plus, you usually get a handful of epic matches during the fortnight**. Andy Roddick and some guy only tennis fans have ever heard of, Pete Sampras and Jim Courier, Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati (twice), and Marat Safin and Roger Federer have all produced matches that really are among the most memorable of the Open Era. It used to be that many players wouldn't even make the trip down under for the AusO, giving us champions such as Chris O'Neil and finalists like Kim Warwick. You can google them if you want to know which gender they are. Fortunately that hasn't been the case for the women for about 30 years now, so my entire adult life has been filled with great AusO memories.
Rather than the standard list with comments for each player, I'm going to change it up and do it espn.com style – reporting on each quarter of the draw as its own section. Here we go.
Quarter One – Seeds (I'll only mention the ones I think are important) include Caroline Wozniacki (1), Li Na (5), Kim Clijsters (11), Jelena Jankovic (13), Daniela Hantuchova (20).
Be that as it may, this is the draw they've all been given. Wozniacki might never even get to see Li or Clijsters. She could lose to the previous version of herself in the fourth round. Caro is essentially Jankovic 2.0. Same game, same route to number one – play every week (Hingis used the same method for most of her career, but because she front loaded with five majors in her first three years no one ever called her on it). The main difference is that Jankovic always seemed bothered by the fact that she got to number one but couldn't win a major. I honestly think Caro couldn't care less. In just attitude (NOT talent), she is more Anna Kournikova and not-so-much Maria Sharapova.
Semi-finalist from Q1 – Clijsters (I can't bring myself to bet against her)
Quarter Two – Seeds include Victoria Azarenka (3), Aggie Radwanska (8), Francesca Schiavone (10).
|Vika down as usual|
The only other dangerous player in this quarter is Schiavone. I like her, so I hope she does well. I just think in a fourth round match with Radwanska, Aggie is playing too well to lose to her.
Semi-finalist from Q2 – Radwanska (I'm as compelled to bet against Azarenka as I am to bet for Clijsters)
Quarter Three – Seeds include Maria Sharapova (4), Vera Zvonareva (7), Serena Williams (12), Sabine Lisicki (14).
I'd have a lot more to say about Zvonareva if she weren't staring down the barrels of Serena Williams' guns in the fourth round. If ever Vera were going to pull it together to win a major, I believe it would be here. It's the most forgiving of the slams. Fragility isn't always a deal-breaker. Just ask Jennifer Capriati, who won the AusO twice. But she's not likely to beat Serena. She's only beaten her twice in her career and one of those times was last summer in Serena's first tournament back after her brush with death. Williams will be looking to exact her revenge.
Semi-finalist from Q3 – Serena Williams
Quarter Four – Seeds include Petra Kvitova (2), Sam Stosur (6), Ana Ivanovic (21).
Six of the nine players who have won major tournaments in their careers are in the bottom half of the draw. The two most recent champions are in this quarter. So you might think me cheeky for contending that Q3 is the better quarter. Well, consider this. Since 2008, no one not named Serena William or Kim Clijsters has followed up a slam victory with another slam victory. Not just consecutively; not at all. Period.***
If anyone has the potential to join that elite group, it's Petra Kvitova. I was watching her play the other day and it was like I was watching a composite of Mary Pierce, Steffi Graf and Maria Sharapova (only left-handed). She hits everything like she means it, and walks around the court the same way. But up a set and a break against Li this week, with a chance to become number one if she won the tournament, she just went away. Is she really ready to be the next big thing? We'll see.
Ana Ivanovic? She's just pretty and I like her name.
Semi-finalist from Q4 – Petra Kvitova
Clijsters def. Radwanska (three sets, come from behind)
Kvitova def. Williams
Kvitova def. Clijsters (three sets, the last of which will be about as pretty as Margaret Court)
*I just coined the term AusO as the shortened term for the Australian Open. If you like it, spread it far and wide. Just remember, you heard it here first.
**I completely agree that fortnight is kind of a douchey word, but it works well when talking about a two-week tennis tournament.
***Svetlana Kuznetsova owns two major championships, but only one of them was won since 2008.