The Williams sisters made their long awaited return to competitive tennis this week. Despite being rusty, with nine of the last eleven championships at the All England Club, Venus and Serena are among the favorites. Moreover, the Wimbledon draw sets up the potential for a fifth all Williams final. Here’s a more detailed analysis.
World number one Caroline Wozniacki hopes to validate her ranking with a first major. However, Wozniacki will need to do some heavy lifting to achieve that feat.
In the quarterfinals, Wozniacki may have to go through 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova. In addition, for the Dane, a semifinal encounter with defending and four time winner Serena or reigning French Open champion Na Li may be in the cards. Needless to say, Wozniacki will have to work hard to earn her maiden major.
Serena will begin her title defense by facing the talented Aravane Rezai in the first round. In the fourth round, Serena could see another sizeable French hurdle in 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli.
Later, in the quarterfinals, Serena may clash against Li who is no push over. In Li’s case, Sabine Lisicki may present difficulties in the second round. Lisicki has been regaining her form and confidence as is evident with her recent title in Birmingham.
Sharapova is again in the mix at another major. While a first round match with countrywoman Anna Chakvetadze could be testy, Sharapova should come through. Sharapova is likely to have a tougher time in the fourth round if Samantha Stosur is the opponent.
Serena had been out of commission nearly a year. For the seventh seed to claim her fifth Wimbledon crown, she will have to come up with the type of performance which resulted in her surprise victory at the Australian Open in 2007. With Serena’s track record, it’s certainly hard to bet against her. Yet, with Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko, Flavia Pennetta and Julia Goerges in the top half of the draw, there is an endless list of players capable of pulling off an upset.
As a consequence of Kim Clijsters’ withdraw due to a foot injury, last year’s finalist Vera Zvonareva is the top seed in the bottom half. Zvonareva is slated to meet either Victoria Azarenka or Francesca Schiavone in the semifinals.
Beforehand, Jelena Jankovic and five time champion Venus offer a tantalizing potential third round match-up with the victor scheduled to collide with Zvonareva in the fourth round.
2010 semifinalist Petra Kvitova is hoping to advance one step further this time. For that to occur, the Czech may have to get past Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round. In the quarterfinals, Kvitova could take on Venus, Zvonareva or Jankovic.
In the first round, Schiavone will see Jelena Dokic. Thus, it may be a short stint on the grass for the Italian. If Schiavone progresses, Andrea Petkovic could stop her in the round of 16. Schiavone’s uphill climb could continue with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Azarenka as possible quarterfinal adversaries.
Speaking of Azarenka, the Belarusian’s most difficult obstacle could be Pavlyuchenkova in the fourth round. If Azarenka prevails in such a showdown, she should sail to her initial major semifinal.
With no absolute front runner for the trophy, Sharapova, Venus and Serena who have been at the winner circle previously have an edge. Still, for young guns such as Wozniacki, Azarenka, Pavlyuchenkova and Kvitova, it’s a golden opportunity to seize the moment.