Sunday, January 16, 2011

Australian Open: Women's Preview

Hampered with injuries, defending champion Serena Williams withdrew from the Australian Open, which also means she will fall out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2008. Her absence will certainly be talked about ad nauseum this fortnight in relation to the wide-open field the women have. So let's see how the rest might fare...

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki had not been having a great start of the year losing all of the matches she's played and most by a crazy lopsided score. She will find it very difficult to progress through the draw as early as the first round facing top doubles player Gisela Dulko. If she gets through that and get a handle on her game, she could reach the fourth round and face either Marion Bartoli or Yanina Wickmayer. 6th seed Francescha Schiavone, last year's finalist Justine Henin, and Svetlana Kuznetsova will make it even harder for her in the quarterfinals.

Fourth seed Venus Williams will carry on the Williams name despite not playing a lot of tennis leading up to this tournament. If she's in-form, it's hard to see her not reach at least the second week. If so, she could have a blockbuster fourth round match against Maria Sharapova. Winner of that could face 8th seed Victoria Azarenka, 9th seed Na Li, or 17th seed Aravane Rezai.

Third seed, and a lot of people's pick for the win, Kim Clijsters will have no time to ease into trying to capture her first non-US Open slam. Her first round match is with former world. no 1 Dinara Safina. A tricky match for sure, but Clijsters should see herself get through that and go up against Ana Ivanovic or Nadia Petrova in the fourth round. Last year Clijsters was blown off the court by Petrova this very round, so she needs to step up her game. Her possible quarterfinal foes include 7th seed Jelena Jankovic, 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, or someone totally random.

Finally, second seed Vera Zvonareva is looking to play up to her career-high ranking. Sybille Bammer in the first round will be a fun, but winnable match for her. She should be okay until the fourth round where she might get Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Maria Kirilenko. If she wins that, she'll reach the quarterfinals for the first time and she'll likely have to go up against 5th seed Samantha Stosur or 10th seed Shahar Peer.

Justine Henin d. Yanina Wickmayer
Na Li d. Venus Williams
Kim Clijsters d. Agnieszka Radwanska
Samantha Stosur d. Vera Zvonareva

Justine Henin d. Na Li
Kim Clijsters d. Samantha Stosur

Kim Clijsters d. Justine Henin

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