Women's Seed Report
Henin-Hardenne will rebound from '05 poor showing
Posted: Friday June 23, 2006 11:17AM; Updated: Friday June 23, 2006 12:51PM
Top 16 seeds
1. Amelie Mauresmo
. Here's our Zagat guide entry: The flaneurs claim her "easily-frayed nerves" are always a factor and it remains to be seen what effects her most recent Paris "meltdown" will have on her mental state. (An early loss doesn't augur well.) Others praise her "elemental" game, well suited as it is for grass and assert that if her "tete is on straight," (no small condition) she could bag her second Slam of 2006.
2. Kim Clijsters.
She has never had much luck at Wimbledon, somewhat odd given her exceptional movement and heavy ball-striking. Inasmuch as she is still committed to winning the big prizes in the showcase showdowns, she's on the short-list of contenders every year. It's easy, though, to envision her losing to Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the round of 16.
3. Justine Henin-Hardenne.
Yes, we know. She won the French in 2005 and then crashed out of Wimbledon before tea time on the first day. Still, we like her chances to win, thus completing the "career Slam." Her game is complete, she locomotes with best of them, and, most important, she has that notch of mental toughness that simply eludes the other players.
4. Maria Sharapova
. A winner two years ago, Sharapova hasn't hit Grand Slam paydirt since and has been dealing with assorted aches and pains (and even mental lapses) all year. Grass-court prep work was inauspicious as she lost to Jamea (Action) Jackson in Birmingham. Gifted with a benign draw, she ought to make the semis from the weakest quadrant.
5. Svetlana Kuznetsova
. The French Open finalist has a decent shot at the semis. She's an underrated volleyer who moves well. Potential quarterfinal against Nicole Vaidisova could be a good one.
6. Venus Williams
. The defending champion is, as usual, a great wild card. By design, no one is ever sure where things stand physically, mentally, and motivationally on Planet Venus. On last year's showing alone, you'd be a fool to dismiss her chances. But, 2006 has been less than smashing. Williams is unlikely to get tested in week one; and Mauresmo is her likely quarterfinal opponent. Who wants to bet against that?
7. Elena Dementieva
. Same old, same old. A terrific ball-striker and graceful athlete whose Frisbee fling of a serve will prevent her from inflicting much damage. She should get a workout from Sania Mirza and Katerina Bondarenko right away.
8. Patty Schnyder
. Schnyder is a career underachiever in Slams. If she doesn't live up to her seeding on clay, it's hard to see her doing it on grass. Might win a few rounds but countrywoman Martina Hingis lurks in the round of 16.
9. Anastasia Myskina
. The 2004 French Open champ has taken a step back and settled in as a player who can sustain her status in the velvet ropes of the 10, but never really threatens. Unlikely to escape a quadrant that includes Venus, Mauresmo and Dinara Safina. In fact, she could easily lose first match to veteran Cara Black, who grew up on a grass court.
10. Nicole Vaidisova
. She had her cotillion in Paris, beating Venus to reach the semis. A Sharapova-esque game should translate fine to grass. Is she now ready to take the next step? She had a hiccup in the Paris semifinals; can she avenge it in London?
11. Francesca Schiavone
. The swashbuckling Italian still hasn't won a title. She's fun to watch and comes up with some brilliant shots, but it will be an achievement if she lives up to her seeding.
12. Martina Hingis
. Odd that a former champion didn't receive kinder treatment from the seeding gatekeepers. If the grass accentuates Hingis' lack of power, it also shortens the points, obviating the fatigue we saw in Paris. It's very easy to see Hingis lasting into week two, but hard to see her beating Henin-Hardenne in the quarters.
13. Anna-Lena Groenefeld
. Insofar as a top-15 player can be a dark horse, pay close attention to ALG. A quarterfinalist in Paris, she's growing into her game nicely and her serve -- among the fiercest in the women's game -- ought to be good for a few rounds.
14. Dinara Safina.
Out of her brother's shadow, Safina is a creditable top player in her own right. Still, her movement isn't the greatest and her track record doesn't suggest a long stay.
15. Daniela Hantuchova.
She's slowly getting back to where she once belonged and has had success on the grass before. But the guess here is her third rounder against Katarina Srebotnik (which will undoubtedly end something like 10-8 in the third) will be her demise.
16. Flavia Pennetta
. The Italian reached the fourth round last year. She has a real shot to go a round better in 206.
19. Ana Ivanovic
. We haven't heard much from the hard-hitting teen in some time, so he's due for a public appearance.
20. Shahar Peer
. The Israeli played well in Paris and her game won't be hurt by the faster surface.
21. Katarina Srebotnik.
One of the better volleyers in the business.
26. Jelena Jankovic
. See Ivanovic.
27. Li Na
. A breakthrough seems to be a matter of when, not if.
. Not only does she have the requisite big game, but family history is also on her side.
. The American teen is in the throes of a bang-up year, having already beaten Sharapova and Ivanovic on grass.
A top player not long ago, she's still shaking off the rust.
. Nice to see her qualify. Can she replicate the success she had in Rome?
First-round matches to watch
Oprandi vs. Kuzetnsova
: Oprandi squandered match points against the Kooz last time they met.
Krajicek vs. Sam Stosur
: Could feature -- get this -- quite a bit of serving-and-volleying.
Safina vs. Jill Craybas
: Can Craybas, who knocked off Serena Williams in 2005, score another upset?
Myskina vs. Black
: Though Black has become a doubles specialist this could be the first-round upset special.
Dementieva vs. Mirza
: Mirza could break her sophomore slump by taking out the No. 7 seed.
Clijsters vs. Zvonareva
: There are easier first round matches for Clijsters than a date against a former top tenner coming off a tune-up win.
Sam Stosur and Lisa Raymond: If they win on clay, lord knows they ought to win on grass.
Venus Williams vs. Sharapova
Henin-Hardenne vs. Groenefeld
Sharapova vs. Henin-Hardenne