Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Wimbledon: Women's Preview
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Wimbledon: Women's Preview 06/24/2007 - 7:57 PM

HeninAre there still tennis fools, I mean fans, who subscribe to conspiracy theories about Grand Slam draws? You know, like Rafael Nadal being given a free ride to the Wimbledon final last year. If there are, they’ll be hard-pressed to explain why Justine Henin and Serena Williams, perhaps the two best women players in the world and winners of the last two Grand Slams, have been slotted to play in the quarterfinals for the second straight major. This is a drag for all concerned.

Anyway, we’ve got more than a week before we get to that, and there are 126 other players to consider. Actually, this being the women’s draw, we only have to worry about half a dozen. So let’s find out who they are, and where they are.

First Quarter
As stated above, this quarter is bracketed by the No. 1 seed, Henin, at the top and the seventh-seeded Williams at the bottom. In between, there’s an interesting first-round match between Daniela Hantuchova and world’s-best-junior Anastasia Paylyuchenkova of Russia (yes, the next set of pros’ names are going to be even harder to pronounce). But there isn’t much to stop another Williams/Henin showdown. Schnyder? Poutchkova? Stosur? Not bloody likely.

Who’s going to win this time? Henin and Williams have split their two matches this year, though Henin had match points before losing their first one, in Key Biscayne. Williams was oddly listless against her earlier this month in Paris, but that makes me think she won’t be the same way again. Serena’s game, even when it’s not at its best, has always been tough to handle on grass. Her simple, straight back, straight forward technique helps her. Henin, meanwhile, is riding high right now, having won the French Open and gotten a bit of revenge on Amélie Mauresmo, the woman who beat her last year at Wimbledon, this week in Eastbourne. While Serena will do whatever she can to avoid losing twice in a row to anyone, I don’t think it will be enough to fully shake Henin’s hard-earned confidence.
Semifinalist: Justine Henin

Second Quarter
For women’s tennis aficionados, this section offers its own hoped-for showdown, between Jelena Jankovic and Anna Chakvetadze (OK, you’ve got to be a pretty serious fan to be praying for that one). Jankovic, the third seed, has been knocking on the Grand Slam door for the last year, but Chakvetadze beat her on grass to win a title this weekend. The Serb may face a test from Lucie Safarova in the third round, and Chakvetadze could face the legend she most resembles, Martina Hingis, in the fourth. The Russian, who relies on guile more than power, may have her struggles, but I think she’ll make it to the quarters and give Jankovic a run there. Still, Jankovic started her resurgence at Wimbledon last year by beating Venus Williams; she hits hard and flat and equally well from both sides; and she’s become a reliable Slam performer, having reached two semifinals at the last three majors.
Semifinals: Jelena Jankovic

Third Quarter
I suppose you could say this section is loaded, though it probably won’t contain the tournament winner. At the top is Ana Ivanovic, at the bottom is Mauresmo, and in between are Nicole Vaidisova and Nadia Petrova. I don’t completely trust any of these players, though as the defending champion and woman with the most experience, Mauresmo has to be the favorite. The Frenchwoman is also at her best on grass, where she uses the whole court better than any of the other women here. But Mauresmo is still shaky after all these years; she flat-out choked against Henin when she served for the match in Eastbourne on Saturday. Vaidisova may be ready to take advantage of that and overpower her in the fourth round.
Semifinalist: Nicole Vaidisova

Fourth Quarter
The bottom half of this quarter may offer a continuation of the great screamfest known as Venus Williams vs. Maria Sharapova. While she’s had serving trouble, shoulder trouble, and an uncharacteristic dip in confidence this year, Sharapova still made the semifinals in Paris for the first time, on her least-favorite surface. Grass is her favorite surface, and Wimbledon inspires her. And while she’s taken a few lumps recently at the hands of the tour’s up-and-comers—Ivanovic thumped her at Roland Garros and Jankovic nipped her at the wire in Birmingham last week—she won’t have to face any of them here. After Williams, Sharapova may get Kuznetsova. Or she may not; you never know with Sveta. Either way, Maria will bring her fiercest game against whomever she faces. It may not be pretty, but it’s tough to beat on grass.
Semifinalist: Maria Sharapova

Semifinals: Henin d. Jankovic; Sharapova d. Vaidisova
Final: Henin d. Sharapova


 
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Comments
 
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Posted by Karen 06/24/2007 at 08:12 PM

I am first yaaay. Only thing is I dont have much to say as like I posted over on Bodo's blog, I am not joining the suicide pools, I am not predicting, I am not even going to watch it on ESPN. I signed up for the webcast on Wimbledon.org. Think it is the best 24.99 I will ever spend. I just want to enjoy my very favourite tournament without all the hoopla. Hopefully my favourites will win and if they don't my second favourites. Not saying who but at the end of the fortnight everyone will know. Enjoy Wimbledon Steve and shall I say that I dont agree with your predictions and that is it.

Posted by pedro 06/24/2007 at 08:31 PM

Hello Everyone,
these are my predictions:
Quarter1: S.Williams d. Henin
Quarter 2: Hingis d. Jankovic
Quarter3: Mauresmo d. Ivanovic
Quarter4: Sharapova d. Kuzzi

Semi: Hinigs d. S. williams
Mauresmo d. Sharapova
Hinigs d. Mauresmo

btw Steve, i think you meant "Sharapova d. Vaidisova" not Mauresmo in your semifinal prediction

Posted by logan 06/24/2007 at 08:56 PM

pedro, i have the exact prediction written down on this paper on my desk... lol it was kind of creepy but yeah, i def. think hingis will be holding up the trophy

Posted by jb 06/24/2007 at 08:57 PM

I'm with you Steve - except I don't think Amelie will fold against either Vaidasova or Sharapova. She did against Henin in Eastbourne - but I actually think that may help her if / when she meets her in Wimby. Other than that - I think you're spot on.

However, I'm a notoriously bad picker of matches...

Posted by 06/24/2007 at 09:03 PM

Here is my WTA predictions from the QF:

Quarterfinals - Henin, Serena ,Jankovic, Chakvetadze, Ivanovic, Mauresmo, Kuznetscva, Sharapova

Semifinals - Serena, Jankovic, Mauresmo, Sharapova

Finals - Serena vs. Mauresmo

Champion - Serena

The hardest match to choose was Henin vs. Serena. Justine outworked Serena at RG but Serena will come back with more determination to win Wimby. I believe that she will play like she did at AO and Miami. However, if Justine beats Serena, Justine is my pick to finally win the career Slam.

Posted by patrick 06/24/2007 at 09:07 PM

Sorry, that was me at 9:03 PM

Posted by patrick 06/24/2007 at 09:11 PM

Pedro & Logan,
That is real gutsy picking Hingis to win. There are 2 questions on Hingis and they are:
(1) Even though she has court savvy, the player who has a consistent power game can hit her off the court (ie-Ivanovic 2006 Canada)
(2) Is her hip problem fully recovered yet? She tried in Berlin without any success.

Posted by steve 06/24/2007 at 09:31 PM

vaidisova, right. it's changed.

two people picking hingis! wow, where did that come from?

Posted by Eddy 06/24/2007 at 09:37 PM

Wow, I was wondering when I'd disagree this much with your picks again Steve. Today's the day. I think Vaidisova and Henin will be beaten by Mauresmo and Serena, unless these two go out early. You put so much confidence in Vaidisova, yet she hasn't been in the mix in a while for whatever reason. I think Serena has an advantage over Henin on grass--on this I will say I wouldn't be surprised if you turned out right though.

Posted by Corswandt 06/24/2007 at 09:39 PM

First quarter: Serena Williams didn't play Wimbledon last year and didn't play any grasscourt warmups. Tough to say if the 4 matches before the QF will be enough for her to get used to the grass again and fine tune her game (not that her troglodytic game needs much in the way of fine tuning). Like Tignor, I don't think it will, though Wertheim seems to think otherwise.

Second quarter: Jankovic seems mentally spent, but autopilot should be enough to get through her early round matches. Hingis will crash out early. QF Chakvetadze vs Jankovic, edge to Jankovic, who is more powerful and athletic.

Third quarter: Vaidisova is not a factor on grass - at all. She has no idea how to move in it, and can't handle the low bounce. Her match against Henin in Eastbourne was pure comedy. Petrova still hasn't got her confidence fully back, even if her "injuries" are mostly gamesmanship/excuse making. She'd have won a Slam by now if there was a Slam played on fast indoors, but everywhere else her chances seem to diminish with each passing month. Ivanovic vs Mauresmo is a tough call. Ivanovic has got a huge, rather unrefined game that works only on occasion, but more frequently as of late. Mauresmo beat her handily last year, but that was perhaps Mauresmo's finest, steadiest performance of the whole tournament - and it will probably take nothing less than that this year as well. It all depends on who plays well and who plays crap on that day.

Fourth quarter: Venus Williams would have to play godawful to lose against Sharapova. She moves much faster, serves bigger and hits harder. Venus will eventually self-destruct; I'm just not sure in which round she'll get around to doing it. Dementieva is done, Golovin is coming back from a long injury break, Safina plays well on grass but the Williams sisters are the worst possible matchups for her, as they are for Sharapova. Kuznetsova is suffering the effects of overplaying earlier on the season (another one who tried to play catchup to Jankovic's relentless hogging). She quickly bounces back even from the worst losses, but she may be next to done for this season.

Overall though I don't think Wimbledon will go as by the book as RG did. Grass makes for wackier results and upsets are more likely. Still, there were very few upset shockers at Birmingham, Eastbourne and Rosmalen this year, so who knows.

Posted by Otto 06/24/2007 at 09:44 PM

Good predictions Steve, I mostly agree with them. Regarding the outcome of the final JH def MS, I am not so sure. The GS finals that Justine won were against "second tier / head cases": Kim Clijsters, Sveta, Mary Pierce. She lost instead to the likes of Venus, Sharapova and Mauresmo. Sometimes I feel Justine has trouble closing the deal (GS final) against top tier players. While Mauresmo is a head case, she is different because she gives Justine IMO the worst possible matchup: she does everything just as well as Justine does (more or less), she gives Justine no clear strategy and is equally adept at changing/adapting as Justine is. Having said that if Justine beats Serena in the quarters I don't see anyone beating her.

Posted by Henry Puckett 06/24/2007 at 10:00 PM

I think its going to be the 2 sisters in the final serena vs venus!!! and serena will win in a 3 setter this is there court!!!
COMON SERENA AND VENUS I LOVE U GUYS!!! ALL THE WAY FROM HAWAII..
HENRY!!!

Posted by pedro 06/24/2007 at 10:09 PM

Patrick,
I think Hingis has proven that the power game is not much of a problem for her as she has defeated many power players like Ana Ivanovic (Tokyo), Sharapova last year, Venus, Kuznetsova, Petrova, Dementieva, Vaidisova (on clay though), Davenport(indian wells), ...and has give Mauresmo, Clijsters and Henin tough fights. She lost her form after the injury and I totally agree with you that her performance will depend on how well she has recovered. Hingis is excellent at net, she is a good mover and she has alot of variety, and a good draw so I think she has a chance to win this tourny.....but it all depends on how well she has recovered.

Posted by Elevennis Anytwo? 06/24/2007 at 10:23 PM

Good point about Justine in GS finals, Otto. I thought she would take apart Sharapova in last year's US Open final, but instead she completely blew it. Still, the final is most likely to be either Justine or Serena v. Amelie. Then there should be another great ladies' final!

Posted by kiwibee 06/24/2007 at 10:53 PM

This is outrageous. Vaidisova over Amelie? Give me a break. Sharpie will be in finals?Not likely.

Posted by patrick 06/24/2007 at 11:00 PM

Kiwibee,
What are your WTA predictions? Gave my predictions earlier.

Posted by kiwibee 06/24/2007 at 11:03 PM

Hey patrick!

My predictions are a bit out of the line..:)
1/4 finals:
-Justine - Serena
-Chukster-Jankie
- Ivanovic -Amelie
-Paszek -Venus

I know couple of names might stun you...lol

Posted by patrick 06/24/2007 at 11:31 PM

Kiwibee,
If Chukster is Martina, she will lose in round 3 to Bammer.

On Paszek, you could be right on that one. There is always a surprise at Wimby. Last year it was Bremond.

Posted by kiwibee 06/24/2007 at 11:51 PM

patrick: you might be right about Bammer, but I think Chuckster will prevail in the big stage if the match is on centre court...hehe

Posted by patrick 06/24/2007 at 11:58 PM

Kiwibee,
Do you think Martina hip has fully recovered?

Posted by pedro 06/25/2007 at 12:02 AM

Patrick and Kiwibee,
Hingis has won easily both times she has played bammer...a bagel each time; although I do think Bammer will give an injured Hingis a good fight, I think hingis will win

Paszek...ooo now that is interesting!!

I also would love to see Venus get far because she is soo talented...but from her erratic performances we will never know!

And a Williams doubles trophy...i see that coming

Posted by 06/25/2007 at 12:03 AM

How can you pick Vaidisova over Mauresmo? What has Vaidisova done lately? Mauresmo narrowly missed out on beating Henin at Eastbourne over the weekend, and Mauresmo seems like she is perhaps rounding into form just in time for the tournament. I cannot see Vaidisova topping Mauresmo. The Henin/Williams match is a toss up, but I still think Serena will defeat Henin in that match up. I do not care how much confidence Henin has right now - she probably had the same amount of confidence at this time last year when she also won the French Open, won Eastbourne is a close match (beating Myskina 7-5 in the third). Let's also revisit Henin's draw from last year - Hantuchova, Bremond, Clijsters - those were her 16, QF and SF opponents. Not renowned grasscourt players. I think Henin will have a much tougher time here, and I think Serena's confidence and will to win will be exponentially higher than in Paris, which will make a difference for the outcome.

Posted by Willy 06/25/2007 at 02:01 AM

My Prediction
QF:J.Henin vs S.Williams, J.Jankovic vs M.Hingis, N.Vaidisova vs A.Mauresmo and M.Sharapova vs S.Kuznetsova
SF:J.Henin vs J.Jankovic, A.Mauresmo vs M. Sharapova
F: Justine Henin(BEL) def. Maria Sharapova(RUS)
in three sets.
1st set: Sharapova
2nd and 3rd set: Henin

Posted by The Original French(ie) 06/25/2007 at 02:11 AM

VAIDISOVA OVER AMÈLIE? I literally choked on that one!!! Please, Amélie was so damn good over Justine (yeah, I know so good that she lost, but nevermind) it's not like she's in the same universe as Vaidisova on grass or anywhere else for that matter... This is ridiculous, not to mention that Vaidisova is not known for her mental fortitude either!!!!arg...

I still don't understand what all this fuss about Anna Chak. is all about...On the other hand, I'm afraid you're might be right about Justine-Serena, I hope not but I need to see how they're going to perform on their first match today or tuesday to see how it goes!

A Amélie-Maria final would definitely do it for me this year!!!
Meanwhile I keep my fingers crossed...

Posted by Jamaican Girl 06/25/2007 at 03:06 AM

Hello Everyone,
here's my pick for the women's Quarter:

Quarter1: S.Williams d. Henin
Quarter 2: Jankovic d. Hingis
Quarter3: Mauresmo d. Ivanovic
Quarter4: Venus d. Kuzzi

Posted by Ori 06/25/2007 at 03:28 AM

A little off base with the "this being the women's draw" comment, Steve. There are more contenders for the title on the women's side than the men's side by a country mile (legitimate contenders, not flash-in-the-pan ones). There's Mauresmo, Henin, Serena, Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Jankovic, and three-time champion Venus. It tells you something about depth when the 7th or 8th best bet is a three time champion, no?

But I do agree with your picks for the most part. I personally think Vaidisova hasn't a chance of beating Mauresmo. Vaidisova doesn't have a ton of game on grass, as her 8-6 record shows. And those eight wins are pretty unexciting, too (highest ranked opponent? Stosur). I'd go with Mauresmo, possibly without dropping a set on her way to the semis.

Also, I have a sinking suspicion that Sharapova will be very thrown off if she faces Venus and Kuznetsova back-to-back. Talk about different games. My money is on Kuznetsova. The word is she's been taking preparation very seriously (tennis wise) and been on site for almost a week now.

I'd go with Henin over Mauresmo in the final.

Posted by 06/25/2007 at 04:26 AM

i think its going to be Serena. Thats what i have predicted in the site (www.sportsnob.net)where i write articles...pls do read it and post your comments.

Posted by Samantha 06/25/2007 at 06:27 AM

Steve, I'm very surprise at anyone who would pick Hingis who is coming off an injury and has no warm up tournament. Also, a good serve and power is important on a grass court where you can hit quick winner. Amelie will crush Vadisova. Did anyone see how well she played against Justine. She could have won that match. If Venus plays well, she can take Sharapova because of the problems she has been having with her serve. I'm not going to make a prediction on Justine and Serena in the quarters because I think it's too close to call, and because the surface makes it a difficult call. Go Justine!

Posted by frances 06/25/2007 at 11:35 AM

Okay, so Steve picks Sharapova to beat Venus and get make to the semis based on her --- guts. But he doesn't pick Serena to get past Henin because Serena won't be able to shake Henin's -- guts. Okay what planet are we on? Sharapova with an injured shoulder and unable to beat the top players (Schnyder's no slam champ) gets the benefit of the doubt. Serena -- doesn't. Nice.

Posted by B.Rollins 06/25/2007 at 11:51 AM

I would like to see Maria Sharapova have a hard draw just one time
like everyone else.It would be much easier to see if she can really play .Her earlier rounds are never hard ,this allows her to
always get to the semi final or quarter final.A person would have
to be a complete idiot to not notice this.

Posted by frances 06/25/2007 at 11:59 AM

B. Rollins, I agree with you. If it happens again -- I'm going to start to wonder. This girl never, ever has a difficult draw. Ever. Last year's U.S. Open was ridiculous.

Posted by patrick 06/25/2007 at 12:11 PM

Frances,
At least this time I picked Serena to win Wimby. I think Serena will play like she did at AO and Miami. But, I am with B. Rollins, also, on Maria's draw, this allows her to cruise through week 1. Maria's only roadblock to the semi is Venus but Venus has a tough one in round 3 with Safina.

Posted by Ray Stonada 06/25/2007 at 12:15 PM

Guys, draws are random. I believe that. I think you should too.

Posted by patrick 06/25/2007 at 12:19 PM

Ray Stonada,
I guess the random draws on the WTA always go Maria's way. Look at all the past draws in the Slams.

Posted by Samantha 06/25/2007 at 12:24 PM

Frances, I would agree that she does seem to get alot of easy draws, but it's just a matter of luck. Justine is never lucky. Go Justine!

Posted by frances 06/25/2007 at 01:01 PM

Samantha, you're probably right. But -- you just never know. If it keeps happening...hmmm. I mean this girl never faces any tough opponents early.

Posted by Thomas Muster KAD 06/25/2007 at 01:01 PM

Paszek and Bammer are playing doubles together - woohoo for Austrian tennis!

Posted by frances 06/25/2007 at 01:05 PM

Ray Stonda, the draws are not completely random. They have to sort out the number 1 and 2 players so that they don't meet before the final...so. There is a randomness to them, however. But if Sharapova continues to get these catwalks guaranteeing advertisers that she'll be around in the second week, I'm goin got start to wonder if they don't sort out a few other things as well -- Roddick tends to always get easy draws as well. Check it out. However, the men have more parity on their side, and any young hard hitter can beat Roddick.

Posted by frances 06/25/2007 at 01:08 PM

Patrick, I think you're right. I think this is Serena's tournament to win for sure. I'm not blown over with Henin's chances. She squeaked past a rusty Mauresmo at Eastbourne. And Serena rarely loses twice in a row to the same player.

Posted by frances 06/25/2007 at 01:21 PM

Ever notice how the high horse Tennis scribes (excluding old-school Bodo)almost never pick right. Fans always outpick them. You know why? Because these writers, pick who they would like to see win -- not who has the best chance of winning. How the heck does any writer worth his press pass pick Sharapova based on her overrated guts -- but doesn't give Serena or Venus the benefit of the doubt based at least on theirs. What has Sharapova done this year to justify all this hope? Did she smile at Matthew Cronin on her way to the practice court? Did she wink at Tignor before practicing her serve? Did she blow a kiss.... oh never mind.

But it's disingenous and incredible that these so-called sports journalists would paint a false picture. Sharapova was handed two severe ass kickings by Serena this year. A rusty Venus was the only player to take a set off of the hottest player in the women's game at the FO, and Serena came back from match point down to beat the #1 player at the fourth biggest tournament this year, right after Serena won the AO. Are they the favorites according to Steve and the rest of the tennis cognesceti-- nope. Sharapova, meanwhile, beat up on a mentally fragile player, Schnyder, then went down without a fight to an unproven teenager, Ivanovic, and Sharapova's given the Rocky Balboa award and all the chances in the world to prevail over Venus and prevail in her quarter.

How is tennis supposed to expand its fan base when writers lie.

Posted by ada 06/25/2007 at 01:45 PM

yes frances. I agree. The writers overate some who don't really deserve it and underate some who completely deserve it. Serena, Venus and Henin have all proven their mettle in the toughness department , winning matches when down and out, over worthy opponents who may have beaten them just before, at the very important matches. The other overhyped one is yet to do this and I think this is because( as people here have pointed out) she rarely runs into tough opponents in the earlier rounds or even inthe later rounds. People notice this because there are some tough matchups they expect/want to see ( say vs Jankovic, Vaidisova,Ivanovic on grass or hard.....also vs Golovin,Peer,Medina Garrigues on clay etc)but for some reason they have not happened regardless of where everyone is ranked. Thanks all.

Posted by Ray Stonada 06/25/2007 at 02:06 PM

Yes, Frances, you are right - Steve Tignor is being paid by Tony Godsick to pick Maria Sharapova to lose in the finals. Cause Steve's blog predictions make Tony and Maria tons of money. Thus, Steve lies on his blog in order to get a cut of this money, and to annoy all true, honest, and pure tennis fans.

And Yuri Sharapov is bribing Wimbledon officials to get Maria a favorable draw. Since the top eight women almost never lose to unseeded players, rigging the draw would be such an effective strategy!

Also, did you know that Stephen Tignor is an anagram for "Repents Nothig"? Sounds pretty devious, huh?

Posted by frances 06/25/2007 at 02:39 PM

Ray Stonda, you flatter me. You're like Roddick -- resorting to comedy when all else fails. Refute what I wrote.

Posted by Anonymous 06/25/2007 at 02:40 PM

To all Fed KADs-

"Are there still tennis fools, I mean fans, who subscribe to conspiracy theories about Grand Slam draws? You know, like Rafael Nadal being given a free ride to the Wimbledon final last year."

Would you like to answer Steve's question?

Posted by Anonymous 06/25/2007 at 03:00 PM

Steve-
Good picks. With the women it's so tricky, because no one is truly very consistent and it really is wide open between 4 or 5 people.
Two people I would really like to see do well are Dani and Vee.
I would like them to make make the semis, but that's probably it. Serena's seems a bit too arrogant ever since the AO. (The comments she made after losing to JH at FO and also her feeling that she's unbeatable if she's playing well).

But I see the women's draw coming down to this:

QF: Henin df. Serena (2 sets, 1 tiebreak)
Jankovich df. Chakavatadze (3 sets)
Mauresmo df. Ivanovich (3 sets)
Venus df. Kuznetsova (3 sets)

SF: Henin df. Jankovich (2 sets)
Mauresmo df. Venus (3 sets)

F: Henin df. Mauresmo (6-4, 6-4)????

Posted by Andrea 06/25/2007 at 03:10 PM

Steve-
I agree, I think Henin can beat Serena just because she's so confident right now. Not to mention everything's in the right place in her family (reuniting with her family...)
But in the end I'm hoping Amelie repeats.

Posted by Nectar 06/25/2007 at 03:23 PM

Hey Francis, I am also a sports writer and take great offense to your comments. First of all, these are just predictions on a blog - lighten up. Steve is entitled to be wrong just like everyone else and he's entitled to his opinion just like everyone else. He can't see into the future or read palms. Everyone else made their predictions -some picking Hingis, Henin, the Williams sisters and that's fine. The reality is most people pick who they want to see win (I'm not saying that's what Steve did)and that's ok. That's what being a fan is all about. Sports writers are just people like everybody else and shouldn't be held to some higher standard.
The bottom line is over the next two weeks we will find out who will win and it will be whoever deserves to win. That's the great thing about sports - you can't predict it because anything can happen and probably will. That's why we love it. As for my humble predictions: Henin will beat Jankovic in the semis and Mauresmo will beat Sharapova and then Henin will beat Mauresmo. And I am a Sharapova fan and proud to admit it. This is all just my opinion and as the saying goes opinions are like ***holes everybody's got one. So just relax take a chill pill and enjoy the best players in the world playing the best game in the world over the next two weeks. TK

Posted by Andrea 06/25/2007 at 03:44 PM

Anonymous:
"To all Fed KADs-
Are there still tennis fools, I mean fans, who subscribe to conspiracy theories about Grand Slam draws? You know, like Rafael Nadal being given a free ride to the Wimbledon final last year.
Would you like to answer Steve's question?"

Can't we move on from that yet? But I agree that Rafa did have a decent draw last year that included Agassi, Roddick, Murray, Hewitt, Baggy. It wasn't Rafa's fault Roddick lost in the third round. But it's different this year, so we'll see...

Posted by Andrea 06/25/2007 at 03:45 PM

Steve- are you being paid by Tom Godsick? lol. Would you like to clear things up here?

Posted by Eddy 06/25/2007 at 04:25 PM

Chris Fowler mocking Brad Gilbert is getting annoying and it's getting old. I value BG's tennis opinion and I don't appreciate him getting mocked by a sports anchor who acts like he knows a lot about tennis.

Posted by frances 06/25/2007 at 05:30 PM

Nectar, that's Frances with an e -- not an i. By the way, I'm not a sportswriter, but I'm honest -- and speak my mind. I will continue to do that. If you're offended, it's unfortunate, that's not my intention, and there's nothing I can do to help you. Also, Serena looks good and she won today, so I'm pretty chill right now. Thank you for looking out for my well being. And glad to hear you're a Sharapova fan -- to me, she seems like a fairly nice and pretty grounded young lady considering all the coverage and everything she gets. I'm not a fan of hers, but she certainly seems like a nice girl. Good luck. She's getting her ass kicked at Wimby this year though.

Posted by steve 06/25/2007 at 06:32 PM

i think of these predictions as being for fun, to have a chance of being right but also being at least slightly interesting. i could pick the top 4 seeds every time and probably have a better record. i didn't pick henin on guts, but on the confidence she must have right now.

one thing i'd say is that it's hard to pick someone OTHER than nadal to make the final, by which i mean he may lose, but who do you choose at this point other than him? there's djokovic, but i feel like he's due for a letdown.

there are better reasons to pick roger federer to win wimbledon than to please tony godsick, right?

Posted by patrick 06/25/2007 at 06:51 PM

Steve,
Correct on picking for fun. I like to see what are your thoughts on who is going to win Wimby against my thoughts. Picking Henin-Serena was the hardest match to pick.

Posted by Sanja 06/25/2007 at 07:44 PM

Steve nice post and (bonus) I chuckled throughout.

I'm really hoping for a JankoVIC VICtory. Barring that I would like the other sister to come through and so Venus gets another Wimbledon title! I don't think it's likely but I didn't in 2005 either. I have a feeling Sharapova gets a return of the serving yips this Wimbledon....

Just curious - why do you think Djoko is set for a letdown? I think the opposite, I think he has momentum on his side. I think all the Serbs will be super motivated after that reception they got back in Belgrade after the FO. Props to Tipsarevic for coming back from two sets down today.

Posted by Bob 06/25/2007 at 09:56 PM

I agree with three of your predictions, but totally disagree with respect to Amelie. She didn't choke anything away. When she served for the match (and when Justine was broken earlier) she was serving into wind so strong it was blowing the bottom of the net around. Both players had problems winning games from that side. The ball was just coming too fast and they both hit lots of errors. Justine in particular must have shanked 10 shots from that side, and even with her speed, she couldn't get to balls and get them back. I thought Amelie played great grass court tennis under those conditions, against a very in form Justine who had immense problems herself trying to hit the ball well in that wind on numerous occasions.

I don't see anyone in Amelie's quarter who will bother her. Vaidisova was helpless at Eastbourne. I think it's a cake draw for Amelie. Ivanovic didn't do well in her grass tuneup, and Amelie has been in a few Wimbledon semis, so her win was no fluke. It's her perfect surface. She has a superb serve and is a great volleyer. I don't think her volleys are better than Justine's, but they are prettier. She can't pull the trigger on the backhand like Justine can, but she can pull it pretty well. She has nowhere near the forehand Justine does, but when she's serving well, she's very hard to break. Given the conditions and the pressure of a final against the player who was the opponent in last year's Wimbledon, they both played pretty well. Barring some injury, I think Amelie will have a much easier time getting to the semis than the other three picks, though I think they will probably get there.

Posted by Bob 06/25/2007 at 10:26 PM

As for Paszek and Venus, I don't think you can count them out. Venus is much more match-tough than Serena (who might have a tricky match againt Molik if she doesn't play better than she did today). Molik is one of the biggest servers in tennis, and if she gets them in, they are hard to return on the grass. That's one reason Amelie is so good on the grass. Her serve is big, and she can hit it wide, and is great at coming in. This is Venus's best surface, and her serve will make her tough to beat. Sharapova is obviously a terrific force on the grass, and I'd pick her over Venus, but only slightly. Sharapova has been erratic all year. If she starts having serving problems, she could be in trouble against a player like Venus.

I'm interested in seeing Paszek, after watching her come back from 5-0 down at the FO against Justine. She was really hitting some shots, and Justine had to start really blasting forehand winners to get out of that first set. Bartoli is another player who can really whack the groundstokes.

I didn't see any of the events except Eastbourne, but Chakvetadze's win over JJ is certainly something not to ignore. I don't think she has the serve to win Wimbledon, but neither does JJ, so either of them has a chance to make the semis.

I don't see Hingis as any factor. Her game is too slow for the modern players. She won her Wimbledon when Steffi didn't play her and before Serena and Venus and the Belgians came along.

I'm interested in Safarova, too. I think she's very talented, and I enjoy watching her play. Not experienced enough yet, but she can hit some amazing shots.

Posted by sharong 06/25/2007 at 10:28 PM

Steve, I don't agree with Vaidisova (have you seen her play recently)? She's been getting thumped on regularly lately. She's going through a slump right now.

Posted by steve 06/25/2007 at 10:30 PM

sanja: i just don't think djoko is quite ready for the wimbledon final. it's been a long season for him already, and he probably should have gone out to patience in paris. just a thought/hunch.

bob: i still think amelie gagged and only started to play well again once she'd lost the lead. that isn't too hard to believe with her, is it?

Posted by ncot 06/25/2007 at 10:42 PM

venus all the way, baby! hehehe. maria is going to be creamed. :)

Posted by criaghickmanontennis 06/25/2007 at 10:45 PM

From 4 four 4 in the men's draw to 0 for 0 in this one.

I chose:

Serena
Anna
Amelie
Venus

I never predict past the semis, but Amelie Venus is the match of the draw I most want to see. Both can get there or lose in the 16s.

What I want isn't far-fetched, despite Eastbourne and Miami.

Posted by Bob 06/25/2007 at 11:03 PM

Steve: I've watched that match 3 times, since I'm such a fan of Justine and also Amelie, and I think it's unfair to expect perfection under that pressure and those conditions; and against a player like Justine, who is is best player in the world, and was playing well the entire tournament (but who had her own problems against that wind). In that game:

Missed first serve. Good second serve, good approach, good volley.

Missed first serve. Justine hits a decent return, Amelie hits a decent forehand, Justine hits a deep hard forehand which bounces high in that wind behind the baseline and Amelie mis-times it wide.

Good first serve but a good return which although not low, Amelie has to volley from just inside the service line, which is 21 feet from the net, so she's about 17 feet from the net hitting a volley which is coming at her with all that wind, and she volleys it long. That was not an easy volley. She knows she needs to hit it deep because of the wind, and it's a touch shot and she was running forward at almost full speed. It was only long by a couple of feet.

Good first serve, but Justine blasts a great return to the corner with the wind helping her, and Amelie gets it back too short, setting up an easy winner for Justine. This happened quite a bit to both players when they were on that side.

Good first serve, short replay, good volley.

Good first serve, but Justine hits a great low return, and Amelie's volley is defensive, and Justine hits a great passing shot for the break.

The only "blown shot" Amelie hit in the entire game was that volley, which was no piece of cake. Both women were having problems timing their groundstokes from that side from behind the baseline. Justine played great tennis in that game, with all the advantage of that wind.

Of course they were both nervous. This was their first grass meeting since the W final last year, and was a potential prelude to perhaps a Wimbledon final this year, one which I think is more probable than any other specific final. All of these players get tight, especially in these types of wild conditions. However, in that game Amelie had no doubles, even though she had to catch the ball at least once without serving. She made both of her relatively easy volleys without any problems. She served at 60% in that game.

To expect perfection is unrealistic, and there were no easy shots which Amelie missed in that game. When Justine got up by a few points against the wind in the tiebreak, I knew the match was over. It was a huge advantage to have the wind.

Posted by Bob 06/25/2007 at 11:20 PM

Amelie actually served at 67% in that game, which is very good. Yet the commentators after the game said she didn't get enough first serves in. I sometimes wonder if they are watching the same match I am.

Lately Justine has been serving consistenly over 60%, which is astonishing for her. If she keeps serving like that, I don't see anyone beating her. Her poor serving cost her the final last year. Sometimes I think the Wimbledon final often comes down to who can serve under pressure in that specific match. Justine is so small, yet serves the ball so fast, that she does have a high-risk serve, but in the past serveral weeks she's been serving with very few doubles, and she seems very confident.

Posted by Bob 06/25/2007 at 11:52 PM

As for Nadal, I don't see him reaching the semis, with potential matchups against Soderling, Youzhny, and Berdych looming. If they get upset, he may get there, but I don't think he can go through all three of them. Berdych pretty much dominated Nadal on hard courts, so I see no reason why he won't do it just as easily on grass, except for the pressure factor.

I think the wild draw is the other one in the bottom half. Hewitt, Baghdatis, Djokovic, Karlovic, Nalbandian, Monfils, Johannsen, Mirnyi. This one is a total crap shoot, even ignoring the top seed, Davydenko. We also have Canas. There will be more good matches to watch in this quarter than any other.

Posted by Dan 06/26/2007 at 12:24 AM

Ok...to everyone that keeps bashing Maria because they think she gets easy draws...First of all, the last 2 years Maria has made it to the semifinals of EVERY grand slam (except RG 2006)! That is consistency. Secondly, Maria has lost to the eventual champion at all of these grand slams as well (except for RG 2007). Let's talk about her "easy" draw that allowed her to win the US Open 2006...Hmm, Semifinals, she had to defeat No. 1 in the world Mauresms (she bageled her in the 1st and 3rd sets as well). Then in the final, she had to defeat Henin, the No. 2 player in the world (which she did in straight sets). That is NOT an easy draw at all! Now shut-up Maria Haters!

Posted by Bob 06/26/2007 at 01:46 AM

Maria is very consistent except on clay. Clearly she had a great draw at the French, which was why she got to the semis.

She's certainly a threat on any other surface, though I don't expect her to beat Justine very often. That US Open final was an odd match for Justine, who just never seemed to get aggressive, and Maria was playing great tennis all the way through. Only Federer can win nearly all the time.

She has certainly been erratic this year, though. She has no titles, and was blown out by Serena twice and by Ivanovic once. Great players don't get blown out like that very often. She has two slams at 20, and has clearly established her talent with those wins and her consistently going deep into slams, but I don't think she moves as well as when she was slightly smaller and lighter. She's really huge now, in height and also has more body weight. It's quite evident. She's heading into her favorite part of the season now, so we'll see. Those lopsided losses and serving problems were kind of odd, though. I see her in the semis, but if she gets nervous serving against Venus, then I can see Venus winning that, since she moves so great for her size.

I don't see her beating Amelie on the grass, nor Justine. They are natural grass players. Sharapova is not a grass player. She serves big and hits the ball hard, so grass is good for her in those areas, but I much prefer watching Amelie and Justine on the grass. When they are gone, I don't know who will ever replace them.

Posted by Ori 06/26/2007 at 02:04 AM

Steve,

re: Mauresmo's chances...

Whether she choked or not, I'm pretty sure Vaidisova isn't exactly miss mental fortitude either, and Mauresmo has the advantage of a.) having been in these situations at Wimbledon before (winning a few of them) and b.) being a top 5 grass courter. Vaidisova hasn't done well on grass for a reason, and it's only partly because she hasn't played on it a lot.

Choker or no, I really do think Mauresmo has the easiest quarter of the draw by a wide margin, and is clear and away the favorite to reach the semi. Even discounting her win in '06, she's got the perfect game for grass. Vaidisova hasn't figured it out yet, and I don't think she's going to learn fast enough to beat up someone who can volley that well.

At the same time, Vaidisova certainly should be a quality grass courter in a few years. Her serve is simply out of this world, fluidity wise.

Posted by Andrea 06/26/2007 at 02:06 AM

Bob-
I agree with everything you said about Maria. She's a great player and she'll put up consistent results. You can always expect her to reach the semis or finals. But then when she plays Justine, Amelie, (or now Serena and Ivanovic) she'll lose.
Ivanovic is a year younger than Maria and when Justine, Mauresmo, Serena, Venus, Hingis are all gone, I see Ana and Maria at #1 and #2. Ana seems like the slightly better player though.

Posted by Brent 06/26/2007 at 04:05 AM

I see things shaking up like this:

QF. Serena df.Henin, Jankovic df. Hingis, Ivanovic df. Mauresmo, Venus df. Kuzzi

SF. Serena df. Jankovic, Venus df. Ivanovic

F. Serena df. Venus

...alo predict a Williams doubles titles.

Posted by patrick 06/26/2007 at 07:31 AM

Dan,
Ever since 2005 started, Maria has made it to the semifinals in 8 out of the last 10 Slams(2005 & 2006 RG are the expections) but won only one slam(US Open 2006) in that time(She also won Wimby 2004 over Serena who was returning from injury). Once Maria makes it to the SF, the upper echelon players somehow neutralize her power game with variety and they expose her lack of mobility. Speaking of 2006 US Open, Maria did very well during the US Open Series and deserved to win. But, at the same time, Mauresmo and Henin does not do well in tournaments played in the US. An exception was the 2003 US Open when Henin won it.

Posted by Samantha 06/26/2007 at 08:54 AM

Maria biggest problem is that her serve used to be her greatest weapon, but now she makes alot of DFs and her serve is broken quite a bit. I think that players are able to read it better as Ivonovic and Serena did, judging from the numerous times they broke. Her problem (this year) is that she makes it to the semi but can't get past a top ten player like Jankovic, Ivonovic or Serena. Another problem with her game is the one dimensional aspect of her game and her lack of good forward movement when she tries to hit a volley or slice. In her favorite, is her draw when you compare it to other players, she does seem to get lucky. I don't think people are hating on Maria, they're objectively looking at her game and seeing some major flaws. Go Justine!

Posted by patrick 06/26/2007 at 09:22 AM

Samantha,
Well said about the Sharapova game. She does not have a Plan B when a top 10 player neutralize her strenghts.

Posted by Bob 06/26/2007 at 11:42 AM

Justine really didn't play much last summer going into the US Open, and was quite inconsistent at the Open, with some good matches and some bad matches. She's very good on the hard courts, as history shows. I think her health concerns tend to limit her willingness to play as much as she should. She has no choice at this point in the year, but after Wimbledon she didn't play that much last year going into the Open. She's only played 13 events in the past year. I think she's still frightened about that CMV, but I don't know. With most of the top women in recent years, they have seemed to play only enough to do slam preparation, but I'm not sure that's the case with her. It certainly doesn't help her, but on the other hand, she seemed tired in last year's Wimbledon final.

I don't think Jankovic will ever be a multiple slam winner, and still have my doubts about Ivanovic, but we'll see. Presently it will be hard for these women to win slams with Justine, Sharapova, Amelie, and Serena around, and these players haven't indicated they are thinking about retiring.

Posted by steve 06/26/2007 at 11:57 AM

bob, i would fight you on this, but my dang dvr erased the eastbourne final!

so you see henin over serena this time?

Posted by frances 06/26/2007 at 12:06 PM

Brent, I'm with you. I see an all Williams final. Venus looked good at the French in my opinion. She was clearly pooped in the third against Jankovic -- the hottest player -- on Venus' worst surface. Venus was the only one besides the champion, Henin, to take a set from Jankovic -- and only lost the first set because she started slow (as usual) and gave up the first game. Venus is just too confident on the grass and has won Wimby more times than anyone else on tour. She just can't be counted out. I just wish she would get her ranking up, so we can see her, Serena, Mauresmo, Henin, Sharapova and Jankovic battling it out in the semis and quarters like they should be, and not in the early rounds. Go Venus! Go Serena!

Posted by Bob 06/26/2007 at 12:18 PM

Steve: I was watching my re-play while I was posting point by point. Then both players won easily from the near side with the wind until the tiebreak. Amelie did get down 0-30 at 5-6, but won the next four points as Justine tried to hit balls against the wind and was having the same problems Amelie was having trying to time her shots, and hitting them into the net. Amelie did get a bit lucky in that game, hitting the service line on a second serve, which Justine missed entirely, and Justine's one backhand almost crept ofer the net. Like Amelie's wide forehand, Justine had to leap into the air to hit that one backhand and netted it during that game. The wind was picking up the bottom of the net several inches quite often, blowing it into that side. Justine played great tennis in the tiebreak to get up early, though Amelie had a double. Once she got on the other side at 4-2, Amelie had almost no chance. Both players had a really tough time from that side the entire match.

I do see Justine beating Serena, but that's no sure thing. Serena only served at 53% and 103/81 mph. Justine served at 67%, and 104/92 mph, and has been serving like that consistently for several weeks. I expect Serena to up her serve percentage quite a bit, but if Justine can serve above 60%, she will be very hard to beat. She's serving much better than last year, with fewer doubles. Serena doesn't have the net game of Amelie to bother Justine, who has a faster second serve which is hard to attack than Serena's.

If Serena can serve at 70% though, and Justine starts serving poorly, then Serena could win, but Justine has better movement, better groundstokes, and is much better at the net, so I'd favor her (over anyone at her present level of play), but in a single match anything can happen, and Serena can raise her game instantly. Both of them can. I just don't think Serena has played enough matches this year. She didn't look that good yesterday, and only has a few more matches before they play. Fortunately for her, she can improve her serve without playing matches, and when her serve is really on, it's really a weapon. Justine actually serves harder on the average than Serena, especially on the second serve, but Serena's height gives her more places to hit the serve and a lower-risk serve, so if nerves come into play, she'll have the serving advantage.

Posted by patrick 06/26/2007 at 12:28 PM

Frances,
The All Williams final may be derailed within the hour.Venus just got smacked at 2 in set 1.

Posted by Bob 06/26/2007 at 12:31 PM

Venus is down a set and a break. This Russian is very good, but this is surprising to me. I have to believe she'll come back, but she needs to get going.

Posted by patrick 06/26/2007 at 02:01 PM

Frances,
Venus rallied like a champion today and now on to Sromova on Thursday.

Posted by Samantha 06/26/2007 at 02:41 PM

I see the Serena and Justine match too close to call, I'm going to wait and see a few more matches from them. I see Amelie or Ivonovic has coming through on the other side. I would like it to be Venus, but I don't see it unless she can fix the serve and forehand. I don't believe Sharapova can beat Ivonovic or Amelie, she's not playing like she played last year or 2-3 years ago. Go Justine!

Posted by Bob 06/26/2007 at 03:02 PM

Sharapova didn't play that well today. She served well, which means that this "injury" is mainly a fabrication. She served and hit the ball without any evidence of injury at RG and is doing the same thing here. Her serve speeds are typical of what she's always done. Her lack of movement is pretty evident. If Venus can serve well, she moves so much better that I'd give her the edge, but Venus is really up and down. She was fortunate to win today. That match was decided on very close line shots. I think that Russian has a good future. She played great; but got tight, which was what let Venus into the match. There are lots of young guns around these days. You can't take anything for granted on this surface.

Posted by frances 06/26/2007 at 05:25 PM

Patrick, Venus frustrates me -- she plays according to the level of her opponent. She plays the top players great -- and usually prevails against them in the slams. Venus makes me nervous when she plays the lower ranked "nobodies." I don't have any doubt she can get past Sharapova -- it's the lower ranked players before Sharapova that make me nervous. But, as you say, she's on to Smorova.

Posted by frances 06/26/2007 at 05:34 PM

Bob, it was Serena's serve (the best on tour) that won her the AO and Miami. It's the weapon that gets her out of jams and win matches. Henin has a good serve, but it doesn't win her trophies. Serena's serve is the superior shot over Henin's not the other way around. Henin does not move better than Serena on grass. Serena does not have Henin's or Mauresmo's (the best volleyer on tour) volleys, but she volleys well enough. Serena doesn't come in as much, because when she's firing those sweet shots, she just doesn't have to come in. No one has Serena's ball pace(except maybe Venus). Henin will not get as many chances to come in -- Serena will smother her. I say all this with the assumption that Serena will be playing well. Henin has never beaten Serena, never, on any surface -- except clay. And Serena does not have 2 Wimbledon titles and one Wimbledon final for nothing.

Posted by patrick 06/26/2007 at 06:12 PM

Frances,
Correct on Serena's serve. When she was playing her way into shape at AO, her serve saved her "butt" in a lot of matches. True fact on Henin is winless against Serena on all surfaces other than clay:)

Posted by Bob 06/26/2007 at 06:45 PM

Frances: The statistics don't support your contention that Serena has the best serve in tennis, depending on how you define "best serve". "Ball placement" and "great serve on big points" are very subjective, since they don't keep statistics on these things.

In the first round, Justine served faster on her first serve by 1 mph and on her second serve by 11 mph, a huge advantage for Justine on the second serve. She also served at 66%, while Serena served at 53%. Justine won 73% of her first serve points, and 47% of her second serve points, while Serena won 83% of her first serve points and 54% of her second serve points. Because they played different opponents the winning percentage is speculative, but it's clear that Justine has the harder serve on both serves, much harder on the second serve, and a better percentage. (in this match).

Let's examine their FO match.

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/scores/stats/day15/2121ms.html

Here Justine served at only 49%, as compared to Serena's 70%, but Justine won 85% of her first serve points, compared to only 60% for Serena. Justine also served 2 kh faster on the first serve and 5 kh on the second serve.

To say, therefore, that Serena has a "better" "faster", or "more dangerous" first/second serve is not supported by the statistics of actual matches. Justine has a faster serve than almost any other player. Venus and Amelie and a couple of others are sometimes a bit faster on the first serve, but not on the second serve, where Justine is always above 90 mph.

Serena (and all the other top players) are much taller than Justine, which lets them go for serves she can't go for, in terms of placement, and also gives them more margin for error, with the angle, but this again is a matter of speculation. Justine had more aces than Serena did in their FO match, even though Serena served at a much higher percentage. They both had 4 aces in their first Wimbledon match.

People overlook what a great serve Justine has. It's just amazing for her size, both first and second serves. The problem with it is that if she gets tight, her smaller margin for error (due to her small stature), can lead to more double faults. That cost her the Wimbledon title last year. This year however she has not double-faulted much.

The reality is that Justine's serve has more pace than Serena's on the first serve, and much more pace on the second serve. Serena might get in a 115 mph serve a couple of times, but that's irrelevant. Average speed is everything, and those few rockets actually skew the statistics, so that the rest of her serves are even slower on average. Justine could certainly serve a 115 mph serve, but her angle would make it too hard to keep in the court.

Justine's serve does win her matches. It's a huge weapon which everyone overlooks. It has also lost her matches, since she has such a small margin for error. Serena and the taller players have a larger margin for error when they get tight.

However, when it comes to speed, Justine takes a back seat to virtually nobody, on first and particularly on second serves. Only a very few players average over 90 mph on their second serves. Serena and Venus both averaged 81 mph on their second serves in their first round matches. Venus averaged 107 on her first serve, only 3 mph faster than Justine.

Justine moves better than any player on any surface. Movement is movement, no matter the surface. I also think she is the best volleyer, though Amelie is the most stylish volleyer. Justine makes more tough volleys than Amelie does, in my view, though they are both great volleyers.

Justine would have beaten Serena in Miami except for a miracle net cord and then a ball kissing a line on her two match points, so they are very close on hard courts, and Justine is much more in form presently than she was then. She usually serves around 50%, but has been over 60% lately much of the time. Her speeds have always been around 104/92, +/- a mile an hour or so.

The days are long gone when Serena and Venus hit harder groundstrokes than the other players. They don't measure such speeds, but I'll put Justine's forehand up against any woman in the world when it comes to unleashing power, and her backhand is as we all know probably the best in history.

If Serena is serving a very high percentage, then on the grass she will be hard to break, but Justine is the best returner in the women's game, and if Justine herself serves at over 60%, she will also be very hard to break. Her serving is far better now than in Miami and the other events earlier in the year. I just dont' see anyone beating her, if she serves well.

Posted by Bob 06/26/2007 at 08:11 PM

I will admit that if it's very windy, Justine is more vulnerable. She puts so much spin on her shots that wind affects her timing more than most players, and as I said, her serve has scant margin for error (though she served above 60% in that very windy match at Eastbourne.

Posted by Bob 06/26/2007 at 08:32 PM

I note that in her AO final, Serena really served lights out, averaging 178 k/h (110 mph), at high 60's percentage. That's incredible serving, and if she can do that, she will be very hard to beat. That match was a blowout, however, with no pressure on her for virtually the entire match. Justine doesn't get blown out. Serena is not match tough presently. She needs to improve considerably in the next three matches both in play and serving. If she doesn't, I think Hantuckova might take her out, and Justine certainly will. If Serena can start serving like at the AO, however, then I'd have to favor her against anyone on the grass, though I'd certainly give Justine an almost even chance.

Posted by JR 06/27/2007 at 12:46 AM

Though Hingis has not fully recovered yet from her hip injury but I think she will have a good fight watching her played against a very much younger Russian opponent the other day. Watch out for those younger and have powerful stroke, she could be a dark horse in this year's Wimbledon tourney.

Posted by Claire 06/27/2007 at 03:23 AM

I have trouble believing that Serena Williams can beat Justine Henin. Yes, we're not at Roland Garros, yes, the match will no longer be played on Justine's terms, as was the case at RG. But Henin? Williams would have to be at her absolute best, and there would have to be wind, and the planets would have to be properly aliened, and all sorts of factors. Henin wants Wimbledon, and she'll give her best to get it.

Mauresmo's found some of that style she became so renown for. She's feeling good about herself again, and that's when she's at her best. A little soon to dismiss her.

Hingis- the girl still has a few tricks up her sleeve. You never know with Hingis, and that's what makes her so entertaining. :)

Posted by The Original Frenchie 06/27/2007 at 03:42 AM

well, sorry to interject but: VIVE LA FRANCE!!

I mean, AMELIE is through (she was so ooh SHARP), so is Marion Bartoli, Alizé Cornet (who got rid of M. Kirilenko -hei what's up with her? I think it's her xtime first round defeat!!!-), so is Emilie Loit!! I'm hoping Tatiana Golovin and Aravane Rezai go through too...and this is just for the girls (I mean the "Ladies")!

For the Lads it's even BETTER!!:10 out of the 13!!! Jo-W passed Benneteau (like I said previously, ha!), Nico Mahut is through, Little Rickie got through too!!! There's Monsfils also... CLEVER, INSANELY FABULOUS FAB topped Ivo (2,08 m v. 1.77m: incredible): this is pure tennis genius at play, even Tursunov who is not exactly a "sissy" in the strength and good shots departments wasn't able to stop Ivo the other day at Notingham!!! ....and the list continues: Llodra, Roger-Vasselin and Grosjean, Mathieu!!!

mmm, the second round is a bit of a downer, especially "no pressure at all" Gasquet - Nico Mahut which I think is really unfortunate since both are guys I would have liked to see go deep (edge: Gasquet but again one never know..). It's Gilles Simon who will fight against Youzhny, perhaps a miracle? Fab gets Kiefer, if I'm not mistaken and I don't have a good feeling either...bah it's raining where I am,so some retail therapy will do it for the afternoon.

again , VIVE LA FRANCE!

PS: Canas got through and is up against Mirnyi and then could get to HEWITT in the third: that's going to be something to watch.

Posted by The Original Frenchie 06/27/2007 at 04:00 AM

as for Serena: without a "REAL" proof (like Eastbourne) of her form I think it's really too soon to say what she can or cannot do right now. No offense for the Spanish girl, but it's not like she was the biggest challenge for the last AO open winner, if y'all see what I mean...as for saying that "Sharapova is not a grass player" (about the 2004 CHAMPION, right?) this is just PREPOSTEROUS.

Actually, Serena can go deep because her draw is quite easy in my opinion (Molik, Stosur, Hantuchova, pleeeeease: these girls are not playing in the same league as Serena!).

I wish Serena well though (I like her new haircut and headband, it's really cute), but Amélie is still my favorite for this year!

Posted by The Original Frenchie 06/27/2007 at 04:22 AM

hei, before I forget (I've got no idea whether anyone is still reading this thread?!): Amélie is going to be coached for the "US season" (and perhaps longer) by Guy FORGET (current Davis Cup kingmaker) and not by Courtaud anymore since he doesn't want to travel.Forget and Amélie will meet during Wimbledon for the latest arrangements. I say COOL!

Posted by The Original Frenchie 06/27/2007 at 04:24 AM

see "forget" and FORGET, ha! my English skills are getting better by the day!

Posted by patrick 06/27/2007 at 07:26 AM

The Original Frenchie,
Maybe Amelie will have better results this season in the US with Forget. As you know, Amelie does not have great results when the season swings to the US.
And, Congrats to your French players at Wimby. I have Tsonga losing in the 4th round to Mahut. The bottom half of the Roddick bracket has openly nicely for the French.

Posted by 06/27/2007 at 09:04 AM

Congratulations to Serena who won BET's Female Athlete of the year award. Well done!

Posted by 06/27/2007 at 09:07 AM

Did anyone catch Entertainment Tonight last night? What is this about Chris Evert being involved with a married man and he having to pay 100 million dollars to his now ex-wife keep her from testifying about Chris?

Posted by The Original French(ie)the love of 06/27/2007 at 10:28 AM

patrick: yep that's true but a SF at the US Open last year is not too bad either!!!! She had injuries in 2006 too : I think that she withdrew from Montreal (?). She also won a masters series (los Angeles) and in Philadelphia in 2005 .. So there's some good stuff to work on with Forget (whom I don't like too much -that's the understatement of the day- because of his unrelenting "dissing" of Rafa and his intense dislike of the love of my (tennis) life Fabulous Fab.... but nevermind I digress....) and why not hope for a great run at the US Open: that would be fantastic!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 06/27/2007 at 10:29 AM

TYPEPAD: leave me alone!! I haven't changed my name!

Posted by patrick 06/27/2007 at 11:52 AM

The Original French(ie),
She won the YEC in Los Angeles which jump started her Slam year in 2006. But, we will see if Amelie schedules herself to play during the US Open Series (besides Canada & New Haven).

Posted by KG 06/27/2007 at 12:47 PM

Anybody except S-H-R-I-E-K-apova should pls pls win this. My personal favorite? Serena of course w/ Venus 2nd. But I'm just damn tired of Justine and Serena meeting in the quarters *sigh* I really want Serena to beat Justine. My head is telling me on her current form no, but my hear yes. I just don't want a repeat of the FO when she was so listless. But Serena can never be counted out esp after AO.

Mauresmo to beat Justine? u've gotta be kidding me. Yes, I know she did won it last year but lets review both players' seasons from then till now; Mauresmo has virtually been in absentia.

I'm also looking forward to seeing how the Vitches do. The women's draw is so much more interesting than the men seeing as no one can put a stop to the FedExpress and the Nadal engine.

Posted by Brent 06/27/2007 at 07:33 PM

Serena will definitely beat Henin. Serena has never lost to Justine on any other surface besides clay. She also almost never loses to the same player twice in a row. And the fact that this is Serena's favorite surface and it compliments her game so much, I just dont see here losing to Justine.

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