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Wimbledon Women's Preview - Another Williams vs. Williams finish?
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The greenery of the SW19 turns greener for those who fail to clinch title glory during the European claycourt season. All those unfulfilled dreams of Grand success during the first half of the season enter the second innings with the onset of the most prestigious Grand Slam event of the tennis calendar- The Championships at Wimbledon. This year witnesses an action packed field shining bright with names like Williamses, the Serbians and most notably the Belgians. Will the 2010 edition bring another milestone for the feisty Belgian Henin, or is it time for veteran Venus Williams to emerge victorious, perhaps one last time? Let's take a look at the list of contenders for the 2010 Wimbledon Ladies Singles title -
No matter how many Grand Slam titles she winds up with, American Venus Williams will always be remembered as a Wimbledon legend. Co-incidentally, our first contender turns 30 today as I write this preview. Venus Williams has had a mixed bag of results this year with disappointing finishes in both Melbourne and Paris. The American can take solace in her title runs in Dubai and Acapulco but that isn't enough for her to re-claim the title she won 5 times. Venus' game is inarguably most suited to grass, the major reason for her phenomenal success over the years. But evidently, there is something missing from her game that is stopping her from going all the way. The best of Venus Williams was seen during the 2008 Championships final where she did not give Serena a single chance to comeback into the match and recorded a straight sets win. Ever since, fans across the world have been deprived of her 'Prime-Game'. Williams can face stiff competition from Clijsters and Jankovic, who both have beaten her handily earlier this year. Surface isn't the only factor in predicting a player's performance in an event. Venus' bad form won't magically change overnight, although a two week off from competitive tennis may give her the time to recharge herself psychologically for the big occasion.
Venus opens her bid for the sixth title with a clash against Spaniard Rossana De Los Rios and meets Hungarian Agnes Szavay, who beat her in 2009 French Open, in the second round. Three players come out as possible pre-quarterfinal opponents for Venus - Israeli Shahar Peer, Russian Dinara Safina and Serbian Ana Ivanovic. Out of the entire lot, an in-form Peer is most likely to push Williams to limits. If the draw progresses as expected, Williams might meet French Open champion Francesca Schiavone or 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli in the quarterfinals. History has been a witness that a Roland Garros champion is seldom victorious on the green grass as well. The last woman to claim wins in both Paris and London was Williams' younger sister Serena, who is in the top half of the draw this year. Venus' road only gets tougher after the quarterfinal stage as both Henin and Clijsters are drawn to meet her with Henin emerging stronger of the two Belgians by the virtue of her better track record on the green grass over the years.
Track Venus Williams' possible opponents in the draw, click here.
Many consider Wimbledon to be the major reason behind Henin's return to professional tennis. An unfulfilled dream, it was the Grand stage at Wimbledon that brought Henin into the limelight nine years ago. The Belgian lost the final to Venus Williams in three sets but left a mark with her impressive shot selection and court coverage despite a short frame of 5'5''. What stands out for Henin is the fact that she is more than willing to adept to the fast courts of AELTC as opposed to her signature defensive game on the red clay. As opposed to Clijsters' Cinderella Story comeback, Henin has had mixed results in the first half of 2010. Following an impressive Australian hardcourt season, she lost in early rounds to little known players in Miami, Indian Wells and Rome. Her Pre-Quarterfinals loss to 'Story of the tournament' Samantha Stosur also came as a shock to many critics. However, Henin is one of the few players who have registered wins over Serena Williams and her 'hunger to win' on the slick lawns at Wimbledon may just prove too much for others to bear. Rest, a favourable draw might help the Belgian star achieve her long-yearning dream.
Henin opens her dream title campaign with a match up against Sevastova and faces a major threat in Giant-killer Nadia Petrova, who took out Venus Williams at the French Open and Clijsters at the Australian Open before falling to Henin eventually in Melbourne. The Pre-quarterfinal stage awaits Kim Clijsters and quarterfinal match up is most probably going to be against Serbian Jelena Jankovic, who is hungrier than ever after her shocking exit from the French Open earlier this month. Finally, Venus Williams and Serena Williams stand between Henin and her dream to achieve a career Grand Slam. An anticipated semifinal clash with Venus Williams is bound to produce nail-biting tennis and who knows, this year may witness a coronation of a non-Williams champion.
Will Henin complete a Career Grand Slam with a much awaited triumph, know more about her possible opponents in the draw, click here.
The OTHER Belgian Kim Clijsters cannot be missed out of the list of contenders either. Seeded Eighth, Clijsters is placed in the same quarter as Henin and as described above, is likely to face a similar set of opponents. Clijsters faces Maria Elena Camerin in the first round and takes her chances further with a possible clash with either Henin or Petrova at the pre-quarterfinal stage. The next three stages present Clijsters with Jelena Jankovic, Venus Williams and finally Serena Williams if all goes as expected in the draw.
Current U.S. Open champion's impressive title run in Miami gave her the belief that she has all the attributes to regain the top spot in rankings. An unfortunate injury forced her to miss the French Open, but a sound preparation in Eastbourne is enough to restore the swashbuckling form that made her achieve the inconceivable. Clijsters is capable of taming both the Williams sisters and chances are that a favourable draw will see her through the semifinals easily. Rest is all up for grabs for this 'Tenacious Belgian'.
Finally the most important name in the women's draw, a player who is capable of staging 'almost impossible' comebacks and has the power to turn things around by the virtue of her immense mental toughness. Three time champion Serena Williams is in the top half and is in no mood to repeat her mistakes from the French Open. Serena starts her title defence with an interesting contest against Michelle Larcher De Brito, a loud Portuguese who hit headlines with her performance in last year's French Open. Serena then faces a difficult set of possible opponents in Andrea Petkovic and Lucie Safarova. However, the American's biggest challenge comes in the round of 16 where she is drawn to meet 2004 champion Maria Sharapova. A road ahead gets only tougher with names like Na Li and Samantha Stosur, who have always created troubles for the 12 time major champion.
Will Serena successfully defend her title at SW19, who are her biggest challenges in the draw? Click here to find out...
Technically speaking, Serena's strongest ally are her serve and the swift movement on the slick lawns. Her biggest opponents may come in the form of the so-called Giant-Killers in women's tennis - Jelena Jankovic, Samantha Stosur, Nadia Petrova, these are some of the names that have created problems for the 12 time major champion in the recent months and chances are that in the presence of the Belgians and elder sister Venus, Serena's road to title defence is going to be paved with hurdles. Despite all the unexpected losses, Serena Williams is the strongest contender for the title.
Whether it will be another Williams vs. Williams edition or not is a question still to be answered? Additionally, the Belgians have given a new angle to the already complicated field of contenders. No matter what, this year at the Championships will witness the best of action from the vivacious women of the game.
Follow the nail-biting action happening on the green grass at the All England Lawn Tennis Club with TennisEarth.com and get the minute-by-minute updates of the 2010 Wimbledon Championships.
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