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CanIGetAWhat
May 25th, 2006, 01:16 AM
Thursday May 25, 11:06 AM PREVIEW-Tennis-Unlikely trio eye women's French Open crown

LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - Amelie Mauresmo, Nadia Petrova and Martina Hingis were unlikely to have been at the top of anyone's list of likely French Open champions six months ago. Mauresmo was a perennial underachiever at the grand slams, Petrova floated on the women's tour as the forgotten Russian and Hingis had not even been spotted on a tennis court for three years.

Yet when the Roland Garros gates are thrown open on Sunday for the season's second grand slam, the trio will be among five players the rest of the 128-strong field will want to avoid running into. The other two being Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, the defending champion.

Since Mauresmo contested her first major final at the Australian Open in 1999, when she lost to Hingis, she criss-crossed the world to compete in 23 grand slam events over the next six years.

On every occasion, the talented Frenchwoman's trip ended in frustration as she failed to reach another showpiece match.

Paris was an especially unhappy hunting ground. While she had at least reached the semi-finals in the other three slams, she failed to even equal that feat on home territory. Each time her fragile nerves crumbled under pressure.

After finally getting her hands on a grand slam trophy at the Australian Open in January, however, Mauresmo has acquired new-found confidence in her game and is determined to live up to her world number one status in Paris.

"To start the tournament as number one seed will spur me on even if I know that a lot of people will turn their attention to me," said the 26-year-old, who expects to be fully fit despite withdrawing from last week's Italian Open with a sore throat. "I was sorry not to be able to play in Rome where I always had good results but maybe that's a good thing," she said.

"The previous years I won in Rome or reached the final and it didn't help me in Paris."

When her Russian compatriots Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova won three of the four majors in 2004, Petrova got lost in the crowd.

In fact, she did not win her first WTA title until last season.

This year she has been almost unstoppable on clay, sweeping up titles in Amelia Island, Charleston and Berlin.

HAPPY HINGIS

Hingis has been the story of 2006. Since announcing her comeback in December from a self-imposed three-year exile, she has clambered up the rankings at a furious pace.

Victory in the Rome final cemented her place as one of the serious challengers for the Roland Garros crown and the world number 14 is eager to win the only grand slam title that slipped through her grasp during the first phase of her career.

The 1997 and 1999 runner-up is happy with her role as underdog.

"The pressure is on them, it's not on me, and now with winning this event I know that I can do it again. I know I'm very close."

In 2005 a merciless Henin-Hardenne took just 62 minutes to pummel Mary Pierce into a 6-1 6-1 submission in the final, capturing her fourth major trophy.

The win capped an undefeated 24-match streak during the gruelling claycourt season.

Second-ranked Clijsters is no big fan of clay but has been runner-up in Paris twice.

Like Henin-Hardenne, the U.S. Open champion has had her share of injury problems but is now raring to go.

"Nothing is stopping me from going out a hundred percent, that's the most important thing," she said. "Nothing is restricting me from playing, so that's a great feeling to have."

ZAK
May 25th, 2006, 01:19 AM
I love how Clijsters always says she doesn't clay when its the surface she broke through on. I don't understand

Seyz
May 25th, 2006, 01:25 AM
Oh my, no mention of Venus at all. I think Venus is going to have to turn some heads again (i.e. Wimby 2005),

njnetswill
May 25th, 2006, 03:10 AM
I think Venus can get as far as the semis, but not win the whole thing.

*roddicksinme*
May 25th, 2006, 04:04 AM
good luck to the 3, esp. Nadia :D

ys
May 25th, 2006, 04:15 AM
I think Venus can get as far as the semis, but not win the whole thing.

You surely know that Venus has won 10 out of her last 10 GS semifinals.. If she makes it to semis, she will be a favourite to win it.. Chances are she'll again find herself a karatancheva in early rounds..

ZeroSOFInfinity
May 25th, 2006, 04:25 AM
Venus can win it... if the faves are out (Justine, Momo, Nadia, Kimmy, Martina)

Williams Rulez
May 25th, 2006, 10:40 AM
Venus can win it... if the faves are out (Justine, Momo, Nadia, Kimmy, Martina)I don't see how venus' performance on clay has been much worse than any of the other 5, except nadia who is obviously on a class of her own.

j@zmin
May 25th, 2006, 11:04 AM
I don't see how venus' performance on clay has been much worse than any of the other 5, except nadia who is obviously on a class of her own.


I like Venus, I think she is an amazing player, but she is still rusty. She is a threat for everybody, but you have to admit she is not playing at her level yet, I can´t see her winning seven matches in a row on clay right now: On grass, yes; on clay, not this year.
Venus´performances, despite her good results, hasn´t been so good. She is too erratic, her backhand makes more UE than winners and her serve, at the moment, is not a real weapon either. Justine, Momo, Kimmy and Martina have had better performances this year, and, of course, Nadia has been too good and too consistent on clay this season.

vwfan
May 25th, 2006, 12:18 PM
I don't see how venus' performance on clay has been much worse than any of the other 5, except nadia who is obviously on a class of her own.Clay is so unpredictable anyway.
Myskina didn't win any warmup before she became French Open Champion.

Justine has lost twice in the first or second round and she's supposedly the best out there and now seems vulnerable. Has she won a claycourt warmup? Too lazy to look it up, but the fact that I'm not sure is telling about how dominant she isn't in the lead-in.

Nadia is untested in grandslam final, so even if she manages to get there, she is likely to be playing someone who has played a final and won it. Otherwise, her clay court results this year speak for themselves.

We know Mauresmo is a headcase in Paris, Australian Open notwithstanding. The pressure of being #1 and in contention will likely send her out at or before her usual QF showing.

Kim seems unmotivated and uninspired at the moment.

Martina is ready to go and if she gets a favorable draw, she could go far, but I don't see a victory given that she couldn't win the French Open during her peak years.

and then there is Venus--completely predictable in her unpredictability. But I never count her out and she is one of only about a five players who have reached the final here. Others are: Mary, Dementieva, Hingis, Kim. She could win with the help of a good draw and inspiring play by some up and comer who upsets a favorite.

Paneru
May 25th, 2006, 12:23 PM
Oh my, no mention of Venus at all. I think Venus is going to have to turn some heads again (i.e. Wimby 2005),

Perfectly fine by me!

They ignored her at Wimbledon last year until
the SF's then jumped on her bandwagon,
and she just went about her business.

She doesn't have to do anything but her thing
and the rest will take care of itself.


"Well, I think that at the end of the day, I don't care if you believe or anyone else believes in here, because it's me. So believe what you want to. There's always going to be nay sayers. You may be one of them, I don't know. Guess what, I don't care." ....Venus Williams :worship: :worship: :worship:

charmedRic
May 25th, 2006, 10:56 PM
Best of luck to all ladies!