Tag Archive | "Wozniacki"

Wozniacki Wards Off Bartoli for BNP Parisbas Open Title

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Wozniacki Wards Off Bartoli for BNP Parisbas Open Title



Last year, Caroline Wozniacki was disappointed in the final of the BNP Paribas Open by Jelena Jankovic.  Today, Wozniacki smiled from ear to ear as she held off Marion Bartoli 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 to capture the biggest title of her career.

Following a solid game to open the championship, Wozniacki connected with a backhand crosscourt winner to break and get a 2-0 lead.

Although Bartoli returned the favor by taking next game, Wozniacki rolled on winning the subsequent five games to pocket the first set.

The one sided scoreboard in the initial set belied the fact that Bartoli was playing very well.  As usual, Wozniacki was a bulwark from the baseline tracking balls which would have been winners against most competitors.

In the second set, Bartoli mixed it up more by coming to net, using the dropshot and exposing Wozniacki’s weaker stroke, the forehand.  From the get-go, Bartoli’s new strategy bore fruits.

After an ace to put a period on a tough game, Bartoli’s lob forced Wozniacki into an error.  Consequently, Bartoli had her second break point opportunity of the game which she converted with a forehand winner.

Promptly, Bartoli consolidated for a 3-0 advantage.  Despite not converting on another break point opportunity which would have given her a double break edge, Bartoli guarded serve for 4-1.

Later, as Wozniacki served at 2-5 to extend the second set, Bartoli induced a series of mistakes from her opponent and broke to push the match into a deciding set.

At that point, Bartoli appeared to have the upper hand.  Yet, with so many grueling rallies, fatigue began to play a part in Bartoli’s game with her shots having less authority than before.

Subsequent to a backhand error on game point, Bartoli watched Wozniacki produce a backhand pass winner for a second break point.  Wozniacki banked the break when Bartoli’s stroke landed long.

Once Wozniacki had consolidated, she arrived at triple break point when Bartoli netted a backhand.  Still, Bartoli managed to win the following five points to remain one break behind.

With Bartoli donating two double faults, Wozniacki broke at love to move ahead by a double break at 4-1.  Just when Wozniacki seemed in command, Bartoli roared back with a love break of her own and held for 3-4.

Wozniacki’s next time out was a love hold. Then, with Bartoli misfiring with a dropshot, Wozniacki had her second championship point.  As Bartoli’s backhand sailed long, Wozniacki claimed the title.

Bartoli was in tears after the match explaining “Caroline you made me cry . . .out of tiredness”.  Gracious in defeat, Bartoli recognized that the world number one was indeed worthy of the ranking:  “I am sure you will get a grand slam pretty soon”.

To her father, Bartoli expressed her love for the lone man in her box while Wozniacki had “a full box” saying “since I was five and a half when I hit my first tennis ball [you] were there, I hope [you] will be there until the last”.

Currently at seventeen, Bartoli will bump up in the rankings.  A semifinalist in Miami last year, Bartoli will hope to build on her great performance of the ultimate two weeks.

An overjoyed Wozniacki thanked Bartoli for her kind words and acknowledged today’s ferocious battle stating:  “I am sorry I had to beat you . . . It’s not like football where there’s a draw”.

Wozniacki was particularly happy that “every year I come back I have more and fans here.  It means so much to me”.

With her second title of the year, the first being in Dubai, Wozniacki goes into Miami with a heap of confidence.

Sony Ericsson Open defending champion Kim Clijsters retired from her fourth round match against Bartoli due to shoulder issues.  Thus, for Wozniacki hanging on to the number one spot may be easier the next few weeks as these two head to South Florida.

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Venus Withdraws from Sony Ericsson Open

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Venus Withdraws from Sony Ericsson Open



Citing an abdominal injury, Venus Williams has withdrawn from the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open.

Here is the official press release from the Sony Ericsson Open tournament :

VENUS WILLIAMS WITHDRAWS FROM SONY ERICSSON OPEN

MIAMI, Fla. (www.sonyericssonopen.com) – Three-time Sony Ericsson Open champion and
7-time Grand Slam winner, Venus Williams, has withdrawn from the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open.

Williams is forced to withdraw from this year’s tournament due to an abdominal injury she incurred earlier this year at the Australian Open. The tennis star is currently receiving ongoing rehabilitation at home and released the following statement.

“I am very sorry to not be playing in the Sony Ericsson Open this year. It is one of my favorite tournaments on the circuit, especially because it is so close to my home in South FL. I look forward to returning to the tour soon.”

“It is unfortunate that Venus Williams will be unable to play at this year’s Sony Ericsson Open. She will be missed and we wish her a speedy recovery,” said Adam Barrett, Sony Ericsson Open Tournament Director. “We hope to see her back on the courts soon.”

Despite Williams’ withdrawal fans will still be able to see exhilarating matches as the women’s field features power players including defending Sony Ericsson Open champion Kim Clijsters; current World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki; and three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova.

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Nadal Set to Play Sony Ericsson Open on Opening Weekend

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Nadal Set to Play Sony Ericsson Open on Opening Weekend



World number-one Raphael Nadal is set to play his first round match at the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday, March 26. Nadal will highlight the night session on the opening weekend of the tournament.

Here is the official press release from the Sony Ericsson Open tournament :

WORLD NO. 1 RAFAEL NADAL TO OPEN EVENING SESSION PLAY ON SATURDAY, MARCH 26

MIAMI, Fla. (www.sonyericssonopen.com) – World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will make his highly anticipated return to South Florida at the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday, March 26 (Session 10) at 8:00 p.m. Nadal’s potential opponents will be determined on Monday, March 21 at 12 p.m. when the men’s draw is announced.

Nadal has proven to be a fan favorite in Miami repeatedly playing in front of sold-out crowds at the Sony Ericsson Open. The charismatic Spanish star considers the Sony Ericsson Open one of his preferred stops on the tour, as he enjoys not only the Miami weather, but the eclectic culture, and the array of outdoor activities including his favorites fishing and golf.

The Sony Ericsson Open provides a total entertainment experience with a two-week fusion of events with fashion, food, and musical performances in between blockbuster matches. Prior to Nadal’s match, there is a variety of performances scheduled including a Samba and Capoeria dance show at 6 p.m. on the entertainment stage and a performance by world renowned Spanish guitarist, Nicholas Marks, at 7:30 p.m. on stadium court. Marks, a South Florida based musician, is known for his vibrant musical styles that blend Spanish flamenco, Rumba, and American Pop music.

Tickets to the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or via internet at www.sonyericssonopen.com. An electrifying two weeks of tennis conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, April 2 and the men’s final on Sunday, April 3.

The three-time Sony Ericsson Open semi finalist (’05,’08,’10) is seeking his first championship of the Sony Ericsson Open purple courts. Nadal fell to eventual champ Andy Roddick in a three-set thriller in the semifinals of last year’s tournament.

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Clijsters Withstands Li Na to Clench First Australian Open Title

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Clijsters Withstands Li Na to Clench First Australian Open Title




Coming into this year’s Australian Open championships, most analysts tagged Kim Clijsters as the outright favorite.  Today, the Belgian demonstrated that they were correct in pegging her as the one to beat.  Clijsters fought off China’s Li Na 3-6,6-3,6-3 to claim her first major in Melbourne, the fourth of her career.

Subsequent to a love hold, Clijsters broke Li at love thanks to a net court winner and took a 2-0 lead in the opening set.  However, with Clijsters donating four straight errors after having game point, Li erased the advantage.  Later, serving at 2-3, Li overcame a 15-40 deficit to reach deuce.  Despite resistance from Clijsters, Li equalized the set at 3 all.  With Clijsters flubbing a forehand volley, Li arrived at double break point.  She capitalized and obtained a 4-3 edge when Clijsters dumped a backhand crosscourt into the  net.  After staving off a break point, Li consolidated for 5-3 and with a forehand crosscourt pass winner broke Clijsters for the third time to secure the set.

Clijsters was acutely aware that Li would not be an easy put away.  In the semifinals, Li salvaged a match point before upsetting world number one Caroline Wozniacki to become the first Chinese female to book a spot in the final at a major.  Moreover, just two weeks ago in Sydney, Li defeated Clijsters in the final.   More importantly, although this was Li’s initial major final, she was doing a great job at bottling her nerves.

In spite of two game points at the start of the second set, Li failed to maintain serve, double faulting to hand Clijsters the first game.  Yet, like in the previous set, on her second break point opportunity, Li provoked a backhand mistake from Clijsters to get back on serve.  Still, the very next game, with a crosscourt winner, Clijsters broke for a 2-1 lead.  Relentless, on her fourth break point, Li struck a forehand crosscourt winner to level the set at 2 all.  Then, Li obliterated double break point to hold serve for 3-2.  But Clijsters would not be denied.  Following a tough service game, Clijsters again was at double break point.  This time with a backhand down the line winner, the Belgian broke for 4-3 and ultimately consolidated.  Next, with Li gifting a few errors, Clijsters closed the set with another break of serve.

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Midway Through Australian Open 2011:Clijsters and Wozniacki In, Henin Out

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Midway Through Australian Open 2011:Clijsters and Wozniacki In, Henin Out



The halfway mark has been reached at the Australian Open.  While Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki are still in line to collect their first major Down Under, the dream is at an end for Justine Henin and Samantha Stosur.  Here’s a look at the tournament’s past seven days.

In the top half of the draw, world number one Wozniacki coasted into the round of 16.   Despite difficult challenges from Gisela Dulko and Dominika Cibulkova, the Dane has yet to drop a set.  Wozniacki will battle Latvian talent 20 year old Anastasija Sevastova  who stunned Yanina Wickmayer in the second round.

On the other hand, Henin, a finalist last year, was dismissed in the third round by Svetlana Kuznetsova.  The 2009 French Open champion who appears to be fitter than ever will face reigning French Open victor Francesca Schiavone in the fourth round.  The latter needed three sets in each of her first two rounds.

There will be no Williams hoisting the prize this year.  Venus was forced to retire one game into her third round match with Andrea Petkovic due to a pelvic muscle injury.  Consequently, Petkovic will clash with Maria Sharapova in the round of 16. Sharapova scraped by Julia Goerges in the previous round.  With Sharapova’s serve a continual sore spot, Petkovic has a golden opportunity to reach her first quarterfinal at a major.

Both Li Na and Victoria Azarenka have been unforgiving thus far with straight sets victories to get to the round of 16.  These two will now collide for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Another Serena-Less “Slam”:  Who Will Capitalize at the Australian Open?

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Another Serena-Less “Slam”: Who Will Capitalize at the Australian Open?


For the second consecutive major, Serena Williams will be a no-show.  With the two time defending champion and former world number one still injured, current world number one Caroline Wozniacki should technically be “the” favorite.  While Wozniacki is a certain contender for the crown Down Under, it’s difficult to position her in the number one spot.  With her victories at the U.S. Open and the WTA championships to finish 2010, Kim Clijsters has to be viewed as the outright favorite.  The way the Australian Open draw stacks up, Clijsters has to relish her chances.  Let’s take a look how it breaks down.

Imagine needing to conquer Gisela Dulko in the first round, Dominika Cibulkova in the third round and either Justine Henin or Francesca Schiavone just to get to the quarterfinals.  This is the precise task which probably awaits Wozniacki.  Moreover, in the semifinals, the Dane could clash with either Venus, whom she has never beaten, Victoria Azarenka or Maria Sharapova.  In light of the treacherous road ahead, Wozniacki has her work cut out for her in trying to survive the first week and retain the number one ranking.

Since her 2010 Wimbledon injury, this will be Henin’s first major.  After months of noncompetitive play, Henin performed well at the Hopman Cup.  In Melbourne, a possible third round encounter with Svetlana Kuznetsova will be her first true challenge.  Last year, Henin battled her way to the final after an almost two year sabbatical. Consequently, if the Belgian successfully navigates the first week, she could duplicate her feat of a year ago.

If healthy, Venus should reach the round of 16 with ease.  At that stage, the 2003 Australian Open finalist could be tested, if the draw holds true to form, by the 2008 Australian Open champion, Sharapova. The Russian’s last major was in Melbourne.  Subsequent to shoulder surgery a couple of years ago, Sharapova appears finally at full steam.  That type of encounter could be a shot in the arm for Sharapova and push her back into the top ten.

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A Tale of Two Seasons:  Serena Starts and Wozniacki Finishes

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A Tale of Two Seasons: Serena Starts and Wozniacki Finishes


Although the familiar saying states “all good things must come to an end”, when it comes to tennis it’s not necessarily the case.  While the 2010 season is over, in the blink of an eye the new one will commence.  Before turning to a fresh chapter, it’s important to reminisce and ponder what made this past year noteworthy.

At her first tournament after rejoining the tour, Justine Henin was a finalist in Brisbane.  The Belgian followed that result with a run to the final at the Australian Open.  In a compelling match, Serena Williams edged out Henin to defend her title and claimed her twelfth career major.  Despite Williams’ conquest, the road to victory was far from routine.  Thus, early indications were Williams would be fighting tooth and nail to retain the number one ranking.  Yet, in the end, injury became Serena’s speed bump rather than her fellow competitors.

Following Australia, a knee injury caused Williams to put her feet up for a few months.  In May, a healthy Serena returned to competition.  Subsequent to being stunned in the French Open quarterfinals, Williams successfully defended her Wimbledon title.  However, days after her triumph, Serena suffered a freakish foot injury.  Initially, the damage seemed inconsequential.  But, as the weeks went by, Serena withdrew from tournament after tournament and underwent surgery.  Ultimately, Wimbledon proved to be Serena’s last event of 2010.

Ironically, Serena’s similar fate befell Henin.  After being booted in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, Henin turned her focus to Wimbledon the underlying reason for her comeback.  With a title at a warm-up tournament before Wimbledon, Henin was a serious contender to capture the sole major which has eluded her. But, after easily carrying the first set against Kim Clijsters, Henin fell on her elbow and eventually loss in the round of 16.  What at first seemed an innocuous tumble prematurely terminated Henin’s year.

After being upended in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open by Na Li, Venus Williams caught a full head of steam and defended back to back titles in Dubai and Acapulco.  Then, Venus made the finals at the Sony Ericsson Open and the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open.  Consequently, Venus’ ranking peaked at number two.  Days after celebrating her 30th birthday,  the five time Wimbledon champion stepped on the grass with high hopes for a sixth crown.  However, in the quarterfinals, Venus was sent packing by Tsvetana Pironkova.  Later at the U.S. Open, Williams watched an opportunity to advance to the final evaporate, going down to Clijsters.  Bothered by a knee issue, after New York, Venus sat out the remainder of the season.

No ifs and or buts, Clijsters is back.  After besting Henin in the Brisbane final, Clijsters rebounded from an early exit at the Australian Open by thrashing Venus in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.  Although a foot injury prevented Clijsters from participating at the French Open, the following month the Belgian reached the semifinals at Wimbledon.  Subsequent to a sensational win in the final in Cincinnati, Clijsters repeated in New York and earned her third U.S. Open title.  Clijsters capped the year with the number three ranking and the WTA Championships trophy in Doha.

In placing one’s bet at the start of 2010, Maria Sharapova, Henin and Clijsters would have been regarded as the candidates likely to supplant Serena at number one.  Instead, Williams was toppled from that spot by a great Dane.  Last year, as a runner-up at the U.S. Open, Caroline Wozniacki demonstrated that she is a legitimate rival.  With Serena sidelined by injury, Wozniacki scaled up the ranking by winning six tour titles and making the finals in Indian Wells and Doha.

Despite being halted in the round of 16 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, the quarterfinals at the French Open and the semifinals at the U.S. Open, consistency week in and week out was the key to Wozniacki taking over at number one.

Another individual who had a spring in her step in 2010 is Vera Zvonareva. The Russian followed her first major final at Wimbledon with another at the U.S. Open.  Although Zvonareva fell to Serena and Clijsters respectively, because of her phenomenal performance, Zvonareva shot up to the number two ranking.

Other names to come into the spotlight this season include twenty year old Petra Kvitova who stunned Victoria Azarenka and Wozniacki before being knocked out in the Wimbledon semifinals by Serena.  Along with Li, countrywoman Jie Zheng advanced to the semifinals at the Australian Open.  Perhaps the unlikeliest ones to rise above the fray were veterans Francesca Schiavone and Samantha Stosur.

After beating Henin, Serena and Jelena Jankovic at the French Open, 26 year old Stosur booked her maiden major final spot.  With a victory over Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, Schiavone sauntered into the French Open final as a result of Elena Dementieva retiring in the semifinals with a calf injury.  First time major finalist Schiavone took full advantage of her good fortune.  Less than a month prior to her 30th birthday, Schiavone prevailed over Stosur becoming the first Italian woman to win a major.

In doubles, Serena and Venus triumphed in the finals at the Australian and French Opens while Wimbledon and the U.S. Open were claimed by the new pair of Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.  The number one doubles team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber had an acrimonious divorce in April.  With the break up of Huber and Black and injuries affecting the Williams’, Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko with six titles and the WTA Championships trophy ended the year as the top doubles team.

For the second consecutive year, Italy dismissed the U.S. to take the Federation Cup. Former French Open champion and world number one Ana Ivanovic redeemed her season by pocketing the Tournament of Champions trophy in Bali and reintegrating herself in the top twenty.  Nothing but bad news for former world number one Dinara Safina.  Limited by a back problem, Safina hardly played and finished the year ranked 63rd.

At the WTA championships, Dementieva dropped a bomb announcing her retirement after her last round robin match.  The 2008 Olympic gold medalist and two time major finalist felt at 29 years of age the time had arrived to seal this phase of her life and move on to another.

It is impossible to dissociate 2010 from 2011 with injury already a factor in the year to come.  With her foot still on the mend, Serena proclaimed she will not defend her Australian Open title.  As such, the first major of the year will be up for grabs.  Will Clijsters seize her first major other than the U.S. Open?  Can Wozniacki silence all doubters and show she really belongs at the top spot?  Will Zvonareva draw on the positives from 2010 and take the final step to the major’s winner circle?  Will it be Sharapova or Henin reliving their past success down under?  In contemplating the outcome of the Australian Open, the permutations seem infinite.  With all these questions, the first major portends that the upcoming season will be a fascinating one to follow.

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Creeping Up on Number One:  Wozniacki Clenches Tokyo Title

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Creeping Up on Number One: Wozniacki Clenches Tokyo Title


After a poor showing in the first set, Caroline Wozniacki, the world number two, rallied to capture the trophy at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.  Wozniacki defeated Elena Dementieva, the seventh seed, 1-6,6-2,6-3 for her fifth title of the season.

With two winners, Dementieva opened the match with triple break point.  Despite Wozniacki getting to deuce, the Russian forced the errors to secure the break.  After easily consolidating, as Wozniacki’s backhand sailed long, Dementieva had double break point.  Dementieva capitalized when her opponent’s forehand traveled long.  Subsequent to a double break lead for 4-0, Dementieva took another game off Wozniacki to seal the set.

Since Dementieva got 94% of her first serves in play and with Wozniacki committing eleven errors while failing to connect on a single winner, a comfortable victory looked to be in store for the Russian.  Yet, when Dementieva sent a backhand down the line wide, the Dane had her first break point.  Although Dementieva bagged the game, Wozniacki telegraphed the message that she was not willing to fold.  Subsequent to her first comfortable hold, with Dementieva ahead 40-0, Wozniacki struck a forehand crosscourt winner, her first of the match, which turned out to be her wake up call.  By provoking two additional miscues from Dementieva, Wozniacki leveled the game at deuce.  Later, with a backhand crosscourt winner, Wozniacki obtained another break point and converted.  Next, thanks to Wozniacki’s mistakes, Dementieva had double break point.  However, the Dane recovered and extended her lead to 3-1.  With Dementieva serving at 2-4 and deuce, Wozniacki screamed while the ball was in the air thinking it would touch long. But, the stroke found the court.  Still, Dementieva was awarded the point because the umpire viewed Wozniacki’s outburst as a hindrance.  Disagreeing with the ruling, Wozniacki asked to chat with the supervisor; nonetheless, the call stood.  After dismissing the incident from her mind, Wozniacki pushed Dementieva into mistakes and stole the game for a 5-2 edge.  Then, the world number two closed out the second set and forced a third for the championship.

In the decisive set, a forehand winner gave Wozniacki her third break point in the third game.  Wozniacki made good when Dementieva dumped her backhand into the net.  Albeit, the lead was short-lived because Dementieva quickly equalized the set at 2 a piece.  A few games on, a Dementieva flub handed Wozniacki break point.  As a result of Dementieva backhand misfiring, Wozniacki pocketed the break for 4-3.  After readily consolidating, with a forehand crosscourt winner and a double fault donation from Dementieva, Wozniacki arrived at double championship point.  The Dane secured the title when Dementieva threw in her fourth double fault of the day.

In some respects, the match was similar to Pilot Pen semifinals whereby Wozniacki surrendered the first set 1-6 but edged out Dementieva in a third set tiebreaker.  After prevailing for her eleventh career prize, Wozniacki expressed that she was thrilled since Dementieva was “playing really well [in the first set] and didn’t let me in. . . [in the second set] I stepped it up . . .and with two close sets, I am happy standing here as the winner”.  With regards to the disputed call in the second set,  Wozniacki stated “I didn’t agree with the umpire, [but] I had to move on from there . . . The difference in the end was that I won the important points, [kept] fighting and [was] focused”.

With Serena Williams still sidelined by a foot injury and out of competition the next two weeks, Wozniacki could overtake her at number one.  Nevertheless, when asked whether this was in her thoughts, Wozniacki replied “I don’t look at the rankings too much.  I focus on winning tournaments, although it’s been [my] dream to be number one”.  Depending on her results at the upcoming events, Wozniacki has an excellent chance of realizing that dream.

For Maria Sharapova, the defending champion, Tokyo was gravely disappointing.  Sharapova was ousted in the first round by Kimiko Date Krumm and will slide significantly from number 15.  Jelena Jankovic, the third seed and finalist in 2009, was knocked out by Kaia Kanepi in the third round. Samantha Stosur, the fourth seed, also suffered an early second round exit.   Dementieva stopped second seed Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals.  Regardless, that showing was adequate for Zvonareva to book a spot in the Sony Ericsson championships at year’s end.

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Week One at U.S. Open: Wozniacki Living Up to Seeding, Jankovic Makes Early Departure

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Week One at U.S. Open: Wozniacki Living Up to Seeding, Jankovic Makes Early Departure


With Serena Williams out of the running, one established truism at this year’s U.S. Open was that the list of potential champions had expanded.  Yet, Caroline Wozniacki’s form the first three rounds is giving many room for pause as she is invariably validating her top billing.  With the initial week of competition concluded, here’s a recapitulation of the event thus far and a peak at what’s ahead.

Wozniacki has permitted her opponents only three games on her way to booking her spot into the round of 16.  Although Maria Sharapova needed three sets in the first round against Jarmila Groth, since then she has also been stingy. Sharapova allowed Beatrice Capra, the 18 year old American who upended 18th seed Aravane Rezai, just one game in their third round match.  As a result, the much anticipated  fourth round match between Sharapova and Wozniacki will take place on Monday.

After scraping by to reach the third round, Jelena Jankovic, the 4th seed, had her progress halted by Kaia Kanepi, the 31st seed.  Therefore, for Jankovic, the disappointment at the majors go on.  Kanepi will face Yanina Wickmayer, the 15th seed and 2009 U.S. Open semifinalist, in the round of 16.

Vera Zvonareva, the 7th seed, has been keeping a low profile while calmly taking care of business.  Without dropping a set, Zvonareva is now in the fourth round where she will battle Andrea Petkovic.  Zvonareva is clearly the favorite in that clash and with Jankovic ousted, she has a great chance to earn a berth in the semifinals.

Na Li, the 8th seed, and Agnieszka Radwanska, the 9th seed, were booted in the first and second round respectively.  With Li sent packing, Dominika Cibulkova was the beneficiary.  Cibulkova is alive for the first time in the fourth round at the U.S. Open and will face Svetlana Kuznetsova.  Since falling under the tutelage of Amelie Mauresmo’s former coach, Kuznetsova has rediscovered the road to success.  Kuznetsova should have no trouble punching her ticket to the quarterfinals for a date with either Sharapova or Wozniacki.

In the bottom half of the draw, Melanie Oudin, last year’s American darling, was bounced in the second round.  Franscesca Schiavone, the 6th seed  and reigning French Open champion, has finally found her game on hardcourt.  The Italian heads to the round of 16 having yet to surrender a set.  Schiavone’s next obstacle will be 19 year old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.  The Russian’s third round showdown with one of the favorites for the title Victoria Azarenka never came to fruition.  In her second round match, Azarenka collapsed and was forced to retire.  Initially, the problem was ascribed to the scorching temperatures.  Later on, the news was released that Azarenka had suffered a mild concussion prior to taking the court which was the culprit for her abrupt egress.  With Pavlyuchenkova dominant on hardcourt this season, it will be fascinating to see whether teenage fearlessness or experience wins out.

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Which Woman Can Rise to the Occasion?  Long Lists of Contenders at the U.S. Open

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Which Woman Can Rise to the Occasion? Long Lists of Contenders at the U.S. Open


This week, the U.S. Open draw was disclosed.  Caroline Wozniacki, the world number two and 2009 finalist, and Kim Clijsters, the defending champion and world number three, are the top seeds.  Yet to fully recover from foot surgery, Serena Williams, the world number one, pulled out a few days ago.  In the absence of such a fierce competitor, this presents a sweeping opportunity for Elena Dementieva, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka or Wozniacki to emerge as a first time champion at a major.  Whether one of these women realizes her potential will be contingent on the performance of those who have previously hoisted this trophy such as Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Clijsters.  Here’s a look at how the draw shapes up.

With the biggest title of her career at the Rogers Cup earlier this week, Wozniacki heads into New York with a wealth of confidence.  But, being the top seed at a major is an unfamiliar status for the Dane, how she handles the pressure will be key.  Wozniacki may need every ounce of mental fortitude to get through the round of 16 where 2007 U.S. Open winner Sharapova will be her likely adversary.  In Cincinnati, Sharapova suffered a foot injury.  If Sharapova is at full capacity, Wozniacki could find her claim to her first major postponed another year.

After a difficult few months whereby her ranking dropped outside the top 10, Kuznetsova’s game appears to be clicking again as evidenced by a recent title in San Diego.  As a potential quarterfinal opponent for Sharapova or Wozniacki, the 2004 U.S. Open champion is someone to keep an eye on in the top half of the draw.

The same applies for 2010 Australian Open semifinalist Na Li who will be searching to go one step further at the U.S. Open.  For that to happen, Li may have to knock out Kuznetsova in the round of 16 and stop either Sharapova or Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.  Also, Maria Kirilenko and Aravane Rezai are two dangerous competitors who may prevent any of these players from advancing to the quarterfinals.

In the bottom part of the top half of the draw, if the script follows the seeding, Vera Zvonareva and Jankovic will face off in the quarterfinals.  Lately though, Jankovic has been plagued by a myriad of injuries resulting in her downfall in the early rounds at the warm-up events.  Thus, the Serbian could be ousted in the primary stages by 2009 U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer or 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi.

Being a Wimbledon finalist in Zvonareva’s case could be a blessing or a curse.  In light of that experience, the Russian should have the belief to foil any potential upset in the round of 16 by rivals such as Nadia Petrova or Agnieszka Radwanska. Conversely, Zvonareva’s desire to erase that disappointment could lead to additional pressure and open the door for her counterparts.

If the results of the recent tournaments are any indication, it will be a Wozniacki versus Zvonareva semifinal or an all Russian affair, Zvonareva versus Sharapova.  Since Wozniacki defeated Zvonareva in Montreal, the Dane would have the edge.  If it comes down to a test of wills between Sharapova and Zvonareva, the former would have the upper hand.

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