The 2004 Roland Garros event will begin on May 24 and with the injuries that have incurred on the tour in the last few months, the names and the order of the top favorites have been affected by those events.
Here are my choices for the top contenders as of mid April, 2004:
1. VENUS WILLIAMS
: After winning her first title
, the Family Circle Championship (FCC), since Feb - 2003, over a derermined and skilled Conchi of Spain, on clay no less, showing an improved serve and forehand, I will give the Goddess of Tennis the nod as the leading contender for the title at this time. VENUS may have been off the courts, but she has lost none of her competetive tenacity and she displayed those skills
to a high level in the FCC final.
2. Justine Henin-Hardenne
: Even though she is currently suffering from a viral illness, JHH is still a soild #2 choice for the RG title at this time. She has a poor head-to-head record against VENUS
, but has a more competitive record against SERENA
so far. Being the current #1 player has inspired players to come at her with more intensity than they did in the past and she is also under a more intense media scrutiny than ever before as well.
3. SERENA WILLIAMS
: If not for a reinjured knee, I would have possibly placed the Princess of Power at the #1 contender spot
. Her re-entrance to the tour with a spectacular win at the NASDAQ-100, after nearly eight months
away from the tour, was the most spectacular achievement of the year
, equalled only by her sister's recent win at the FCC event. SERENA
has the best technique on the tour and is only equaled in athletic ability by her big sis and if she is healthy at the end of May, she could possibly be holding another RG trophy by May 3.
4. Lindsay Davenport
: Big Davey is a darkhorse contender, but she is in great physical condition and her already fine technique has been fine tuned by her new coach and these elements make Lindsay a definite factor at this years RG championship. Her main weakness has always been her lack of speed and footwork, but that has not hindered her from becoming a multi grand slam winner in the past.
5. Kim Clijsters
: The only one of my main contenders who does not already possess a GS title and is currently recovering from a wrist injury. As long as VENUS
and JHH are in top form and uninjured, then the likelihood of Kim winning this slam or any slam title in the immediate future is somewhat dim at this time.
6. Amelie Mauresmo
: If Momo has no problems with her back, she is mentally prepared, has a great draw, injuries occur to top contenders, upsets occur to top contenders, the crowd is behind her and her personal life is in order then she might have a good chance to take this title.
7. Elena Dementieva
: If a TV movie is produced with the plot being a blonde, Russian athlete, with a thick accent, winning the Roland Garros title and they are unable to get Anna K. or any another blonde walking around the Santa Monica Pier area, then Elena is your girl
. In reality, she has about as much chance of winning this title as Miss Kournikova.
Those are my picks.