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By Rohit Sharma
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Almost every year, the European clay sets the stage for an unlikely set of champions. As opposed the men's tour where almost every claycourt tournament has been won more than once by a certain Spanish Gentleman, the WTA superstars struggle to find form and fall victim to inconsistency, thereby setting the stage for the most unexpected results. Today, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez's title triumph in Rome proved that atleast on clay, there is no such factor as "domination" in women's tennis.
We start our analysis of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open draw with none other than the current uncontested queen of Women's tennis, Serena Williams. Entering the event as the top seed, Serena seems to have been given a very tough draw. Her quarter features names like Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova, who both have registered wins over the top seed quite recently. If Serena manages a quarterfinal berth after getting past these hurdles, she will be pitted against claycourt specialists like Justine Henin, Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic, who defeated the American in a nail-biting tussle in Rome just days ago.
Similar is the story of Rome finalist Jelena Jankovic, who opens her title bid with a tough match against compatriot and former world number one Ana Ivanovic. The road only gets tougher as she faces stiff challenges from either Justine Henin or Dinara Safina, if the draw proceeds as expected.
The bottom half of the draw features Venus Williams in the top quarter and Svetlana Kuznetsova in the bottom quarter. Seeded fourth and fifth respectively, both women are drawn against WTA's future superstars. The current French Open champion opens her bid with a touch match up against Israeli Shahar Peer. Where Kuznetsova can have a possible quarterfinal clash with No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams can face strong challenge from an inform Samantha Stosur or Rome champion Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who are drawn to meet in the second round. Agnes Szavay, who toppled Venus in Roland Garros last year, is also a part of the same quarter. Finally, Vera Zvonareva, who reached the Charleston final, is also comin across as a strong name in this quarter with a possible second round clash with Venus Williams.
TennisEarth's Predictions -
Top Half Semifinalists -
By the virtue of the seeds placements in the draw, it is safe to pick Serena Williams for the semifinal spot from the top half quarter. Williams made a quick recovery from the injury lay-off to reach the semifinals in Rome and more match play is further going to bring the best out of her. The bottom quarter will witness a much anticipated clash between Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic with the former likely to emerge victorious to move to the last four.
Bottom Half Semifinalists -
The bottom half of the draw has given some of the most promising stars of the WTA tour to showcase their talent at Grand stages in the tournament. Despite the presence of multiple Grand Slam winners like Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova, it will be the turn of an in-form Israeli Shahar Peer and Australian powerhouse Samantha Stosur to complete the semifinal line-up in Madrid.
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