Ah, the great enigma that is a WTA draw nowadays. Look at the women who’ve won titles on grass this season: Roberta Vinci won the Unicef Open over Jelena Dokic, Marion Bartoli beat Petra Kvitova in Eastbourne and last week we saw Sabine Lisicki take out Daniela Hantuchova in the finals of Birmingham. Honestly, the way the tour is right now, any of these ladies has a shot at winning Wimbledon. Or how about Li Na and Maria Sharapova, or Victoria Azarenka and World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki? It’s a funny tour indeed, when the World No. 1 is considered just another filly in the running.
And then we have Williams sisters, both just returning to the game after months of injury layoffs. Venus and Serena, who are seeded No. 23 and No. 7, respectively, hold 9 of the last 11 ladies singles titles between them. It feels wrong to think of them as anything but the co-favorites for the title, yet their losses in Eastbourne and the reality of their long breaks from the game mean the winner’s circle is no guarantee. At least the Tennis Gods were kind enough to put them on opposite sides of the draw, making the prospect of a Williams vs. Williams final possible, if not likely.
So let’s take a look.
At first glance, the World No. 1 has nothing to worry about until the quarterfinals, where she could meet Sam Stosur or Maria Sharapova. But she won’t relish the possibility of meeting German Julia Goerges in the 4th round. The German, seeded 16, beat Wozniacki in the finals of Stuttgart this year and again two weeks later in the fourth round of the Madrid Open.
In the bottom half of Wozniacki’s quarter, Maria Sharapova is fast becoming the sentimental favorite for the title. She has a tough out against Lucie Safarova in the third round but otherwise, well. . .who’s to say, really?
At least we know she wants it. Here’s Maria via Wimbledon.com:
“When I was injured, I did many things. I worked on many projects, I spent holidays with friends and family. But at the end of the day, those didn’t mean anything compared to what it means to win tennis matches.
Look out for: Sharapova vs. Chakvetadze in the first round and Mirza vs. Wozniacki in the second round.
Serena Williams/Li Na quarter
Wozniacki’s good friend Serena Williams could be a potential semifinal opponent for the World No. 1, but French Open champ Li Na is the top seed in this section. And I think former Wimbledon semifinalist Marion Bartoli, who won Eastbourne this weekend, is the one to watch in this section. There are a number of intriguing early round match-ups here, including: Serena Williams vs. Aravane Rezai and Ana Ivanovic vs. Melanie Oudin in the first rounds and Li vs. Lisicki in the second.
Look out for: A power struggle between Williams, Li and Bartoli and a possible run by young gun Sabine Lisicki.
Azarenka and Schiavone are the top ladies in this section, seeded to meet in the quarterfinals. Daniela Hantuchova, who beat Venus in Eastbourne this week, is a mild spoiler. But despite all the Dokics, Danis, Petkovics and Pavlyuchenkovas in this section, I see this as Vika’s opportunity to do something big.
Look out for: Schiavone vs. Dokic in the first round, Azarenka vs. Hantuchova in the third.
I think this is the most interesting quarter of the draw – and the toughest for all concerned. Last year’s finalist, Vera Zvonareva, is the second seed and goes into Wimbledon with a confidence-boosting win over defending champ Serena Williams in Eastbourne. But she won’t be thinking ahead to the final with 5-time champ Venus Williams a possible Round of 16 match-up. Then again, it could be Jelena Jankovic, who is the next best seed in Vera’s section. The hard hitting young Petra Kvitova, who’s been surging up the rankings and is seeded No. 8, is Vera’s seeded quarterfinal opponent. Kvitova could play this weekend’s Unicef Open champ, Roberta Vinci, in the third round and Svetlana Kuznetsova or Yanina Wickmayer in the Round of 16.
Look out for: Venus Williams is the ultimate dangerous floater in this section, and it will be interesting to see if she can summon up the mojo to get past, say, Jelena Jankovic in the third round.