Tracy Austin Wimbledon Preview!!!
It could be a tough second week for the top seed and French Open winner. In addition to a possible quarterfinal bout with Serena, Henin could potentially meet third-seeded Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals, and run into defending champion Amelie Mauresmo in the final, which would be a rematch of last year's title tilt won by Mauresmo in three sets.
Henin looks completely ready to win her first Wimbledon. Physically and mentally she's good to go having taken a week off after Paris and having gotten in some solid grasscourt play in a Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne, England. Now it's just a question of executing for the Belgian star.
The strengths of her game -- which is so dominate on clay -- should carry over nicely to grass. Henin doesn't have as big a serve as does Serena or Sharapova, but her backhand slice is lethal when it stays down low. She's one of best when it comes to playing competently at net. She knows where to stand and how to best position herself. She executes with good technique, can hit good drop volleys, and her defensive skills are second to none.
The minute Sharapova steps on grass she feels completely confident and ready to go after a second trophy to add to the one she captured in 2004. In four prior Wimbledons she has posted a 20-3 record. Top weapons for the second-seeded Russian on the lawns are a big serve, and fairly flat, powerful, and deep groundstrokes.
She prepared for Wimbledon by playing a warm-up event in Birmingham, where it was interesting that she lost in the final to Jelena Jankovic in a close three-setter. Sharapova's attitude coming off that loss was positive. She felt she got in the work on grass she needed and primed herself to be a cut above the rest at the London fortnight.
On grass Sharapova often gets ahead on points from the start of games and that's a big advantage for her. A powerful baseline game also boosts her Wimbledon chances, but she is vulnerable at the net as seen when Amelie Mauresmo brought her in on a consistent basis in beating her in last year's semifinals. Sharapova has improved on taking high balls out of the air and hitting a forehand volley off them.
Sharapova went further at the French Open (losing in the semifinals to Ana Ivanovic) than most people expected her to go, but she's just not comfortable on clay, and doesn't move well on the surface. But grass is a different story for her and the right shoulder injury that she dealt with in Paris should not be an issue in London.
Besides the prospect of facing Venus in the fourth round, Sharapova could meet up with fellow Russian and fifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals and defending champion Mauresmo in the semifinals.
Like her sister Venus, Serena never plays any grasscourt warm-up tournaments. But as we've seen in the past especially with her championships in (2003 and 2002) she doesn't have to in order to be a title contender on grass. So many players don't feel comfortable on grass, but Serena does, and by that she gains an advantage. Slide show: Week in Sports Pictures
She has a big serve and big powerful groundstrokes and her volleying while not as good as Henin's is better than Sharapova's. Serena moves well on the lawns. And by winning the Australian Open she answered questions about her game being back on track and played her way back to the level of fitness needed to survive a fortnight of tennis.
Serena has shown she has an extra gear to shift into when she needs it most. She also can summon confidence when she is down in a match, and when her back is up against the wall she responds better than any player on the tour.
In Paris Serena didn't play well against Henin, but the Belgian also did what she needed to do to knock out the American. If they meet again in London, depending on how Serena is playing, the outcome could be different.
She's ranked No. 31 in the world, but because Wimbledon takes into account past performances on grass, the three-time winner of this major (2005, 2001, and 2000) is seeded 23rd. Like her sister Serena, Venus is one of the few players who feels comfortable on grass.
She has had an up-and-down season in part due to an injury to her left wrist. She's lost close matches to some top players like Sharapova and Jankovic. A few years ago she would have won these kind of close matches on a consistent basis. That has to be tough on her confidence, but she's still capable of breaking through this season with some big wins.
Venus has played enough matches where rust won't be a factor for her. Venus doesn't have the consistency she once had. She's making more unforced errors than when she was at the top of her game and on top on the tour. In the past she used to smother opponents with her serves and groundstrokes, but that doesn't happen on a regular basis anymore so she's not the same intimidating player.
At Wimbledon she must be able to rely on her serve more as a reliable weapon. She has to get a lot of first serves in because there is a pretty big disparity between her first serve and her second serve. If her game comes together she can come up with some huge wins on grass, including one over Sharapova should they collide in the fourth round. Venus played a spectacular match to beat the Russian in the Wimbledon semifinals two years ago.
Hingis was the Wimbledon champion in 1997, but the winner of five Grand Slam titles comes to this summer's grasscourt major looking to shake off some rust. Injuries have limited her play this year. In April she missed Charleston due to a left hip flexor, and in May she withdrew from Rome because of a lower back injury and from Roland Garros with a left hip injury.
Seeded ninth, the Swiss star, who last year made a tremendous comeback after three years away from the tour, did not play in any of the Wimbledon warm-up tournaments. She's played only nine matches over the last three and a half months.
Hingis doesn't have a big, powerful game like some of the other top players, but she benefits from having so much variety in her game. She is crafty, has the ability to change the pace on the ball, and a knack to drop-shot an opponent at will. With her versatility she gives many of her opponents difficulty. Playing Hingis is like playing a chess match on the court. Opponents are constantly seeing different shots from her
It's a different game from when Hingis last won Wimbledon a decade ago. It's a more aggressive and powerful game with much quicker points. Back in the late 1990s Hingis was able to use her versatility to help her outmaneuver opponents, but now there's a much stronger chance she can get overpowered on the grass. And she doesn't have the kind of serve that can be a big weapon on grass. She does, however, have a very favorable draw and could get to a potential quarterfinal matchup with Jelena Jankovic.
She was away from the tour for two months after having an appendectomy in March. Given the little bit of play she has had since coming back she's a big question mark at Wimbledon. She will benefit from a week's worth of matches at the Eastbourne warm-up event.
After breaking through in 2006 and winning her first two majors, Wimbledon and the Australian Open, Mauresmo has not had a terrific year. She fell in Melbourne in the fourth round in straight sets to Lucie Safarova, and also lost to Safarova at the French Open.
She seems physically fit even though her play has been limited. Mauresmo is the type of player who needs confidence going into a major. She relies on good results to get that confidence. So it will be interesting to see how mentally strong she proves to be in London.
Her confidence has been lessened a bit, but she is the defending Wimbledon champion and that will give her at least somewhat of a comfort zone. And the confidence she gained by winning the two majors last year is something she can always draw from. She's proven to herself that she can come up big in big matches so she can't be counted out.
In her three appearances on the lawns of the All-England Club, the third-seeded rising Serbian star's best result is getting to the fourth round last year where she fell to Anastasia Myskina. So she is still kind of green on grass. She is also new to being a top-seeded player so it will be interesting how she handles that.
Jankovic is very impressive. The only thing she is missing in her game is a big serve, which is one element that can help a player a lot on the lawns. Jankovic displays a lot of emotion on the court and that's good. She has the best backhand down the line in the game. It's lethal.
Also, her defensive skills are second to none. She's very quick around the court and has great anticipation. That combination makes it very tough for opponents to get balls past her. That's the thing that stands out most about her. She's a lot like the retired Kim Clijsters in that opponents just don't have much confidence they can get a ball past her. On defense, she can hit an offensive shot extremely well.
Jankovic just doesn't give up. She hits big when she needs to, but also seems to know when to pull back to stay in a point. She gets how to construct a point. There's a lot to love about her game
Last edited by Wolverines08; Jun 24th, 2007 at 12:59 PM.