Shriver: Expect a Serena-Clijsters showdown
Expect a Serena-Clijsters showdown
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The biggest surprise of the tournament remains Jennifer Capriati's first-round loss. Everybody but Kim Clijsters has had their share of troubles getting through to the quarterfinals.
Coming into the tournament the tennis world was figuring on a Serena Williams-Kim Clijsters semifinal, and we're two matches away from that happening. And while Meghann Shaughnessy and Anastasia Myskina are playing well, I don't think there will be a major upset to prevent that showdown.
Serena Williams (1) United States vs. Meghann Shaughnessy (25), United States
Good for Shaughnessy. This is her first time through to the quarterfinals at a major, and she did it with a very tough win over Elena Bovina in a long match. Shaughnessy is very fit and very strong. Last year she had injuries and trouble living up to her successes of 2001. She's now coming out stronger than ever.
Shaughnessy's kind of the forgotten American. She's been ranked as high as 11 in the world but seeded 25 here. So that tells you how much she slid back last year that she wasn't seeded in the top 16. But if she keeps this up, she'll be back in the top 16 seeds and ranked in the top 10 all because she works hard and competes well.
Having said all of that about Shaughnessy, Serena is playing better. She had an awkward fourth-round match because of Elena Daniilidou's nine double faults. I'm not sure Serena knew after that match how well she was playing. Serena is playing better than anyone else in the tournament, so it's hard to imagine seeing her lose it against Shaughnessy.
Kim Clijsters (4), Belgium, vs. Anastasia Myskina (8), Russia
Clijsters has had the easiest progression through to the quarterfinals so far. Everyone else in her section has lost at least one set. So, Clijsters is well-rested but not well-tested. Where that could get awkward is if it gets 4-all in a final set. Her hardest set so far only went to 6-3 against Amanda Coetzer.
Myskina is Clijsters' toughest opponent so far. Myskina is an up and coming player who is seeded in the top 8 for the first time. Myskina has beaten her major tournament best by two rounds -- she'd never been past the fourth round before.
But Myskina is proving to be a pretty-good big tournament competitor. She defeated Clijsters in the semifinals of a pretty good tournament -- Leipzig -- just a few months ago. Really the second half of 2002, Myskina just went zooming up the rankings. She started the end of 2001 at 59 and ended at 11.
Myskina benefited at the Australian Open with Amelie Mauresmo pulling out and Martina Hingis not being in the tournament. That gave her the top 8 seeding, so that she didn't have to face Clijsters before the quarterfinals. Myskina hits hard off the ground, and she's got a fun, happy personality off the court.
I can't pick anybody beating Clijsters until Serena. But enjoy getting to know Myskina in this match because she can be a factor in these tournaments in years to come.