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Friday, June 17, 2011

Pre-Wimbledon: Battle Lines Drawn

With only three days left before the first round of Wimbledon 2011, the official DRAW has been announced, laying out the journey each woman must take if she plans to be crowned queen of the All-England Club. For each competitor, the path is a grueling two week venture against seven well prepared opponents, but in the world of tennis not all women are created equal.

This year's Wimbledon welcomes back 13-time grand slam champion, Serena Williams and her equally as deadly sister, Venus, both of whom have been sidelined with injuries but pose serious threats. If Serena can brush off the rust of a year without match play, she has a good shot at defending her title. On her championship run last year, the American served up a tournament record of 89 aces, and with that kind of fire power, can she be defeated? It is possible. Zvonareva extinguished a fiery comeback by Serena at this week's tournament at Eastbourne in a grueling 3+ hour match, though I doubt she could do the same thing on the big stage. If there's anyone who can keep up with Serena, it's her big sister, and oddly enough she was placed on the other half of the draw. Do we see a Williams v. Williams final, anyone? It wouldn't be the first time.

There's also world no. 1, Caroline Wozniacki, who will be seeking her first grand slam title. Wozniacki knows she dropped the ball at the French Open—the tournament many said was her best shot at validating her ranking due to the absence of Henin, Serena and Venus—but that's all the more reason to want to win now. A victory at Wimbledon when both Williams sisters are in the draw is a championship players can only dream of, and I'm sure Wozniacki is thinking about it right now. 

In order to do so, however, she'll have to outlast an in-form Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals. Sharapova is good pick for this year's championship, having played her best tennis in years during the latter half of the clay court season (her least favorite surface). Now that she is stepping onto her highly favored grass surface, Sharapova will be even more dangerous. There are few who can track down Maria's lasers when she finds her range, but Wozniacki is the best defender in the game. Keep an eye out for that match if both women survive the early rounds.

There are plenty of other big names with tough draws, so be sure to read through closely. Ivanovic will likely have to take down a double dose of American youth (Oudin and Vandeweghe) and then Radwanska if she wants a birth into the fourth round. French Open champion, Li Na, will tussle with the comeback kid from Germany, Sabine Lisicki, in the second round. Even Azarenka will be tested before the first week ends, due to face Hantuchova in the third round—that is if Vika's most recent injury doesn't force an even earlier exit.

All the way around, Wimbledon is destined to be as dramatic and exciting as any women's grand slam. Study the bracket and look to our site for analysis and predictions all weekend long.

-Kedzie Teller, ITB Senior Editor


Anonymous said...

Hope the Sharap-Woz match pans out... will be a great one. Hope one of the younger players certify the rankings a bit. Would be a big blow for the cred of the sport if one of the Williams' won.

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