Saturday, May 22, 2010

Roland Garros 2010 - The Ladies

So here we are. Roland Garros is upon us, and it is that time again: draw preview time! Today we focus on the ladies; tomorrow, the gents.

Without further ado, I give you Jodi's ill-educated and definitely emotionally-motivated picks for Roland Garros 2010.

Serena's Quarter: Wow. This is one tough quarter - definitely the toughest of the four, I would contend. The two big seeds in here are Serena, who you can never count out, and Sam Stosur, who is pretty much on fire at the moment. But who else is in here? Why, it is Maria 'cow on ice' Sharapova! And look - would that be four-time champion Justine Henin?

You've also got a couple of dark horses in there in Zheng Jie and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, whose first round match against Alize Cornet will be one to watch, as they were rivals for junior Slams in the same years. You also have Marion Bartoli, but I can't say that I'm expecting big things of her.

Sam Stosur in particular has a tough match up first round with rising young star Simona Halep, who recently made her first WTA final. If she comes through that match unscathed, I wouldn't be placing any bets against her until what could be a quarter final blockbuster with Justine Henin (or Sharapova).

You have to pick JuJu to win this quarter, even with everyone else in it. You just don't ignore stats like hers at this tournament. But you can't ignore Serena, ever awesome at Slams, nor can you ignore Stosur, who will want to defend her semi final points from last year.

In summary:
Winner: Justine Henin
If not her, then: Serena Williams or Sam Stosur
Possible dark horse: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
First round matches to watch: Pavlyuchenkova/Cornet and Stosur/Halep

Jankovic's quarter: Both the Serbian girls are in this quarter, and I think one of them has a much better chance than the other... and it's not the one that's won here before. If she gets that far, I don't expect Ana Ivanovic to progress beyond a second round with Alisa Kleybanova, who should club her off the court.

This is a very Australian -heavy quarter - Jarmila Groth and Anastasia Rodionova both feature, as does Alicia Molik, who plays Jelena Jankovic in the first round. I actually don't mind Alicia's chances here - I think her game matches up quite well to Jankovic's - but with the way Jelena's been playing lately, I think this is a bit of a long shot.

I have to go with Jankovic to win this quarter, on recent form alone. She is one of the ones to watch going into this tournament and is a definite title contender. But while this quarter isn't as jam-packed as Serena's, there are some names in here. Vera Zvonareva might challenge. So might Kleybanova, and hey, Dinara Safina has made the final the past two years (even though she has got a prime upset opponent first up in Kimiko Date Krumm.) But I think Jelena has one key challenger here - not the other big seed, Agnieszka Radwanska, but the young Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. She's been to a Slam semi before, she's hungry, she's fierce, and basically, I just kind of think she's awesome.

Winner: Jelena Jankovic
If not her, then: Yanina Wickmayer
Possible dark horses: Alisa Kleybanova and Carla Suarez Navarro
First round matches to watch: Jankovic/Molik and Safina/Date Krumm

Wozniacki's quarter: If we get a super massive surprise in the women's draw, this quarter seems ripe for it. This quarter looks like a cakewalk compared to the Serena quarter. You might have last year's defending champion Sveta Kuznetsova in there, but she has been a non entity of late. You might also have Caro Wozniacki in there, but she's under an injury cloud so large it might have come from a volcano.

So if not them, who?

Sorana Cirstea made the quarters of this tournament last year and she has a huge chance to topple Kuznetsova in the first round. You have Li Na in there, who is, as we saw in Australia, more than capable of making it to a Slam semi. And then you have the two Italians, Schiavone and Pennetta, who, while neither has particularly shone lately, you wouldn't like to bet against... Also lurking is Jelena Dokic, and if she gets her hand in and her head straight, she is capable of catching fire. And her first round opponent Lucie Safarova might just pull a massive, MASSIVE run.

I don't quite know who to pick in this quarter, but here goes...

Winner: Flavia Pennetta
If not her, then: Lucie Safarova or Li Na
Dark horses: Am I allowed to call Svetlana Kuznetsova a dark horse?
First round matches to watch: Kuznetsova/Cirstea and Safarova/Dokic

Venus's quarter: I'm not picking against Venus in this quarter, no way, no how. I have a feeling about V this tournament - she just might go deep deep deep.

But she's not the only contender, not by a long shot. You can't not talk about Aravane Rezai, who clubbed Venus off the court last week. Nadia Petrova is also a solid chance, and Dementieva... well... maybe.

But you cannot, cannot, cannot underestimate Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who is super fierce on clay and has the big title to prove it. If anyone is going to take it to V in this quarter, I like MJMS (though Rezai certainly has the firepower and the confidence).

Upset alert, however - watch for Vika Azarenka to fall to Gisela Dulko in the first round. You just watch. Also keep an eye on young Anastasija Sevastova - I think she might grow up to be something a bit special. And Venus's first round match is not without difficulty, either - she has tricky leftie Patty Schnyder. I know Patty hasn't done much of late, but she is experienced at this level and very steady.

Winner: Venus Williams
If not her, then: Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez or Aravane Rezai
Possible dark horse: Nadia Petrova
First round matches to watch: Dulko/Azarenka and Oudin/Medina Garrigues

So this leaves us with the following semi final matches:

Henin vs Jankovic
Pennetta vs V Williams

I think the first semi would be an absolute blockbuster, but you won't catching me betting against JuJu at Roland Garros. The second might be a blowout if Pennetta implodes - even if she doesn't, I like Venus. That leaves us with:

Henin vs V Williams

Winner: Justine Henin

Like I said, I won't bet against her. Not here. Not at Roland Garros. But let's just say this... I wouldn't put my life on it. Venus and Jankovic are both, in my opinions, also solid bets for the title.

What did you pick?

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