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RenaSlam.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:45 AM
A trio of favorites at Wimbledon
Venus, Serena Williams and Sharapova have edge on ladies' field

By Tracy Austin
NBC Sports
updated 7:00 p.m. ET, Thurs., June. 19, 2008

Who will be this summerís Queen of England? Thatís not a royalty-related question Ė but rather a tennis one as in which woman will win the singles title at Wimbledon?

Well, a trio of players has the best chance at doing so -- two are sisters, Venus and Serena Williams. The other is Maria Sharapova. Between these three they have conquered Wimbledon seven times. Venus has won The Championships four times Ė including last year (and 2005, 2001 and 2000 as well) Ė Serena twice (2003 and 2002, beating older sisí Venus both times for the title) and Maria once (2004). My pick is Sharapova.

Venus, Serena and Maria rank as my favorites, especially in light of the fairly recent retirement of Justine Henin, who was No. 1 in the world at the time she called it quits, stunning all of tennis just 11 days before the start of the French Open by announcing she had played her last match. In her last six Wimbledons, Henin had reached the semifinals five times and the finals twice. She had never won the title, but she had more than sufficient game to pull off that feat this year and complete a career Grand Slam had she kept playing.

The best leverage that Venus, Serena and Maria bring to the equation of calculating a Wimbledon winner is that they all truly love to play on grass. That just isnít the case for the majority of the other players competing at Wimbledon. These other players have more trouble adapting to the lawn. They find more comfort playing on hard courts or clay courts.

What also sets Venus, Serena and Maria apart Ė and perhaps not necessarily as a positive -- is that when they arrive at Wimbledon they will not have played any grass tune-up events. Itís pretty amazing to think that these are the three favorites to win Wimbledon and they will play only one tournament on grass all year, which happens to be the most prestigious grass tournament on the entire yearís schedule -- Wimbledon.

Tennis on grass calls for an entirely different brand of game than is played on clay or hard courts. The court on a lawn plays faster, the ball bounces lower, the ball tends to skid upon landing and to add to that -- because itís a natural surface -- the bounces can be uneven.

While this yearís French Open didnít end well for Sharapova as she lost in the round-of-16 to Dinara Safina, she was moving much better on clay than ever before, hitting the ball well, and she showed her great grit and determination in wanting to keep winning on a surface she clearly doesnít prefer. Sharapova had herself in position to win that encounter with her fellow Russian Safina -- even having match points against Safina Ė but her opponent just was a bit better than her in that match.

If Venus didnít have a remarkable past history at Wimbledon, logic would say look at her 2008 results so far and probably discount any possibility of her winning this summer on the English lawns.

But the fact of the matter is that at No. 7, Venus is ranked considerably higher than she was when she won Wimbledon the last two times. When she won in 2005 she was the lowest ranked at No. 16 and lowest seed at No. 14 to become a Wimbledon womenís champion. She rewrote the history books again in 2007 when she became the lowest ranked at No. 31 and lowest seed at No. 23 to win at Wimbledon.

Serena arrives at Wimbledon coming off a very strange loss to Katarina Srebotnik in the third round at Roland Garros. It wasnít as if she was a total fish out of water in Paris -- she won the title there in 2002 -- and in recent months she had worked hard to be fitter and trimmer. I was actually expecting big things from Serena at the French Open, but there are just days that a player Ė no matter how talented one is Ė that you come out flat.

What was surprising is that normally when a champion is having a flat day in an early-round match at a major that champion usually figures out a way to come through to the next round. I would hope that the third-round loss in Paris will make Serena hungrier for Wimbledon. Interestingly, Serena hasnít gone beyond the quarterfinals at a major since winning the Australian Open in 2007 -- she lost three straight quarterfinals to Henin in the remaining 2007 majors, lost to Jelena Jankovic in this yearís Australian Open quarterfinals, and then in the third round in Paris to Srebotnik so she will want to get over the hump at Wimbledon.

The hard part for me in analyzing the title chances of Venus and Serena at Wimbledon is that one never knows just where they are at and what their mindset is going into a major. I guess the best way I can put it is I find them a little bit more perplexing to figure out than other elite players.

Obviously, worthy of discussion is the new world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic and her potential as a Wimbledon champion. Ivanovic has a great game on grass and my biggest reason for believing that she will be a major factor is her big serve. It is a huge advantage for a player to have that big a serve at Wimbledon because itís difficult to break serve on grass.

Ivanovic can use her serve to set up her big forehand, which is quite the weapon. This skill translates well to grass because once she can get ahead in a point, itís tougher for an opponent to play defense to get back to a neutral position on the surface.

Ivanovic also has a very beautiful slice backhand that bounces low and will be more difficult to return. I also feel that Ivanovic is more comfortable volleying than many of the other women on the tour. The fact that Ivanovic reached the semifinals at Wimbledon last year allows her to know she can play on the surface. But, even more importantly, having just won Roland Garros, she is a major winner. That distinction gives her an incredible cache. In a playerís own eyes as well as everybody elseís eyes, having won a major she is now a completely different player. All this makes me think that Ivanovic has an extremely good chance to do well at Wimbledon.

My feeling towards world No. 2 Jelena Jankovic is that she has one important missing element in her game to be considered a true prospect at the majors -- her serve. Certainly, her serve is good, but the other aforementioned women have great serves. They can come up with tough-to-return serves, or at the very least, put an opponent on the defensive with the shot.

Jankovic has to work for every point she wins, which can be a big bonus on most surfaces. But on grass, her ability to seemingly always get the ball back in play is just not as essential a weapon. The bottom line is that on the lawns, itís just not easy to claw your way back into a point. I donít see her winning the title, but I do think she can go far into the draw.

Safina is definitely starting to come into her own. In the past, Safina would mentally breakdown. But in Paris she showed that she could stay in the now, in her matches, even saving match points against Elena Dementieva in the fourth round and Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals. I used to witness her have her wheels fall off on the court -- throwing her racket and such -- but of late she has the confidence of knowing she can overcome adversity to win matches. Sheís definitely maturing.

Probably the most dangerous floater in the draw is 1999 Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport. She withdrew this week from the Eastbourne event with a bad knee, and she hasnít played since defaulting against Sharapova in the Amelia Island semifinal in April. But Davenport thrives on playing on grass so if sheís fit sheíll probably be worth watching.

A name I should also mention is last yearís surprise Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli. The Frenchwomanís current ranking of No. 11 is propped up by all those points she collected at Wimbledon last year. Bartoli had a great tournament last year, but I think her level of tennis has dropped back to where she was prior to her Wimbledon success of 2007. Itís very hard to anticipate the same performance from her this year.

The one player for me, personally, that Iím going to be curious to see how she does is Amelie Mauresmo. Sheís a Wimbledon champion, plays well on the surface, but is struggling of late. I like her as a person. I enjoy her style of tennis and I really like watching her play on grass. As a true tennis fan, I like everything about her and I hope she has a wonderful Wimbledon.

Craig.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:47 AM
Forgot to highlight the part where she says her pick is Sharapova? ;)

ASP0315
Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:48 AM
Who is austin?
and who give a shit about what she says.? :lol:

Noctis
Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:48 AM
There's difference between prediction and reality but I hope the prediction on rena will be reality when she wins

Craig.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:49 AM
Who is austin?
and who give a shit about what she says.? :lol:
she can go to sleep.

A former world number one and US Open champ. :rolleyes:

ASP0315
Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:53 AM
A former world number one and US Open champ. :rolleyes:

i know she was world number number and i also knows her obsession with sharpova.
Plus 95% of her preditictions are total rubbish. i really can't stand her biased commentary.
anything else.?

Craig.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:55 AM
i know she is world number number and i also knows her obsession with sharpova.
Plus 95% of her preditictions are total rubbish. i really can't stand her biased commentary.
anything else.?

Good to know.

Nope, I'm good :lol:

Uranium
Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:58 AM
i know she was world number number and i also knows her obsession with sharpova.
Plus 95% of her preditictions are total rubbish. i really can't stand her biased commentary.
anything else.?

was it her or Evert that favored Sharapova to beat Serena at AO 2007, if so :haha:
Austin's stupid opinion doesn't matter to me, the Williams Sisters have great draws to go far and I don't need her to tell me that:o

ASP0315
Jun 22nd, 2008, 02:01 AM
was it her or Evert that favored Sharapova to beat Serena at AO 2007, if so :haha:
Austin's stupid opinion doesn't matter to me, the Williams Sisters have great draws to go far and I don't need her to tell me that:o

exactly. Austin is the one that predicted serena would lose to Mara Santangelo last year. :haha: and yes she also said that sharapova would crush serena in the finals. :lol:
She and mary carillo are the worst commentators and "experts" of tennis. :lol:

Optima
Jun 22nd, 2008, 02:24 AM
I love Tracy's commentating.

InsideOut.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 02:45 AM
i know she was world number number and i also knows her obsession with sharpova.
Plus 95% of her preditictions are total rubbish. i really can't stand her biased commentary.
anything else.?

It's not biased, she's just stating the obvious. Virtually everyone says the same things anyway... like Venus playing better at Wimbledon, Serena wanting to do better than the French Open R3 loss, Maria's determination to win and having won here before, Ana riding high on her RG win, Jelena needing to improve her serve, Lindsay being a dark horse and Dina coming into her own, blah blah blah. It's just copy and paste. :help:

Apoleb
Jun 22nd, 2008, 03:17 AM
It's not biased, she's just stating the obvious. Virtually everyone says the same things anyway... like Venus playing better at Wimbledon, Serena wanting to do better than the French Open R3 loss, Maria's determination to win and having won here before, Ana riding high on her RG win, Jelena needing to improve her serve, Lindsay being a dark horse and Dina coming into her own, blah blah blah. It's just copy and paste. :help:

Exactly.

Actually, usually reading Austin's commentary makes me nauseous. Simply because she just says the fucking obvious. But you'll always find WS fans complaining.

:lol: @ her though thinking Ana has a great game for Grass. If Ana doesn't have time to set up her shots, usually she's screwed. Her ground strokes aren't good when it comes to fast reactions, which what she'll face when she plays the big grass players.

southpaw58
Jun 22nd, 2008, 04:01 AM
The only thing i don't like about Tracy Austin

is that she just talks tooo much. and she really over does some of the background on players. but other then that, she's ok.

I actually kinda like carillo....haha don't hate me guys! hahah

ilovethewilliams
Jun 22nd, 2008, 05:11 AM
sharapova is the most accomplished grass court player of the last 10yrs so she should be the favorite. She defeated at least 15 top 10 players at wimbledon during her career including the #1 player a couple of times. So much congrats to sharapova.. she's the best grass court player out there so who cares about anything else. Yes she was trounced a couple times over the past 3 yrs by someone name Venus Williams who wasn't even ranked in the top 10 and one time outside the top 20 at the time.

50Sense
Jun 22nd, 2008, 05:53 AM
Why do we read these things anymore?

InsideOut.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 06:57 AM
sharapova is the most accomplished grass court player of the last 10yrs so she should be the favorite. She defeated at least 15 top 10 players at wimbledon during her career including the #1 player a couple of times. So much congrats to sharapova.. she's the best grass court player out there so who cares about anything else. Yes she was trounced a couple times over the past 3 yrs by someone name Venus Williams who wasn't even ranked in the top 10 and one time outside the top 20 at the time.

Get your facts straight. Sharapova had 4 top 10 wins at Wimbledon in her career and she never defeated the world #1 there. And what's with your name being ilovethewilliams...a Williams fan saying Venus isn't the best grass court player? :help: Impostor alert!

Infiniti2001
Jun 22nd, 2008, 02:29 PM
Well, a trio of players has the best chance at doing so -- two are
sisters, Venus and Serena Williams. The other is Maria Sharapova. Between these
three they have conquered Wimbledon seven times. Venus has won The Championships
four times – including last year (and 2005, 2001 and 2000 as well) – Serena
twice (2003 and 2002, beating older sis’ Venus both times for the title) and
Maria once (2004). My pick is Sharapova.


This is the most asinine paragraph I have ever read. "Between these three
they have conquered WImbledon seven times." Please. And Maria won ONCE? Yeah, she had a big big share of those seven times :help:

Dawson.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 02:32 PM
i hate tracey austin's commentating! her voice!!! :mad:

Emina.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 02:33 PM
:worship:

husse
Jun 22nd, 2008, 03:36 PM
Exactly.

Actually, usually reading Austin's commentary makes me nauseous. Simply because she just says the fucking obvious. But you'll always find WS fans complaining.

:lol: @ her though thinking Ana has a great game for Grass. If Ana doesn't have time to set up her shots, usually she's screwed. Her ground strokes aren't good when it comes to fast reactions, which what she'll face when she plays the big grass players.

You obviously havent read her argument, that says the main reason she thinks Ana can win is her Serve, which I personally think hasnt clicked in the big matches.

And Austin continues saying that her Serve will set up her forehand so she doesnt have to be on the defensive

AcesHigh
Jun 22nd, 2008, 05:21 PM
Austin picking Sharapova is no surprise. :yawn:

Apoleb
Jun 22nd, 2008, 05:34 PM
You obviously havent read her argument, that says the main reason she thinks Ana can win is her Serve, which I personally think hasnt clicked in the big matches.

And Austin continues saying that her Serve will set up her forehand so she doesnt have to be on the defensive

I did, but I don't think that would compensate for all what Ana lacks on the surface, which Austin completely ignored in her assessment. Her movement isn't good on fast surfaces, and like I said, if she doesn't have time to set up her shots she's almost always screwed whether on the returns or in the rallys, which what she'll face when she gets a Williams or a Sharapova. Second, she mentions her slice backhand. For real? Ana almost always uses it when she's completely on the defensive, and it's not that good by any means.

I'd love to be proven wrong anyway cause I'll be cheering for her.

Slutiana
Jun 22nd, 2008, 06:25 PM
sharapova is the most accomplished grass court player of the last 10yrs so she should be the favorite. She defeated at least 15 top 10 players at wimbledon during her career including the #1 player a couple of times. So much congrats to sharapova.. she's the best grass court player out there so who cares about anything else. Yes she was trounced a couple times over the past 3 yrs by someone name Venus Williams who wasn't even ranked in the top 10 and one time outside the top 20 at the time.
:haha::haha: Where did you get this info from? Sweetcleo?
Get your facts straight. Sharapova had 4 top 10 wins at Wimbledon in her career and she never defeated the world #1 there. And what's with your name being ilovethewilliams...a Williams fan saying Venus isn't the best grass court player? :help: Impostor alert!
:lol: Exactly.
This is the most asinine paragraph I have ever read. "Between these three
they have conquered WImbledon seven times." Please. And Maria won ONCE? Yeah, she had a big big share of those seven times :help:
:lol:

young_gunner913
Jun 22nd, 2008, 06:27 PM
sharapova is the most accomplished grass court player of the last 10yrs so she should be the favorite. She defeated at least 15 top 10 players at wimbledon during her career including the #1 player a couple of times. So much congrats to sharapova.. she's the best grass court player out there so who cares about anything else. Yes she was trounced a couple times over the past 3 yrs by someone name Venus Williams who wasn't even ranked in the top 10 and one time outside the top 20 at the time.

Ummm... :bs:

You're obviously some Maria troll. Go back under your bridge.

husse
Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:50 PM
I did, but I don't think that would compensate for all what Ana lacks on the surface, which Austin completely ignored in her assessment. Her movement isn't good on fast surfaces, and like I said, if she doesn't have time to set up her shots she's almost always screwed whether on the returns or in the rallys, which what she'll face when she gets a Williams or a Sharapova. Second, she mentions her slice backhand. For real? Ana almost always uses it when she's completely on the defensive, and it's not that good by any means.

I'd love to be proven wrong anyway cause I'll be cheering for her.

Didnt she beat Venus in a fast surface at the Aussies. And she was the closest to Sharapova in the same tournament where she could have easily won the first set. And the Aussies was imho the worst Ive seen Ana play.

And cant a player improve? Scott has helped her shed a lot of weight. Also for me her forehand returns are much better compared to the Us and Aussie Open.

Apoleb
Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:54 PM
Didnt she beat Venus in a fast surface at the Aussies. And she was the closest to Sharapova in the same tournament where she could have easily won the first set. And the Aussies was imho the worst Ive seen Ana play.

And cant a player improve? Scott has helped her shed a lot of weight. Also for me her forehand returns are much better compared to the Us and Aussie Open.

The AO is fast? :lol: You're kidding me. It's probably the slowest thing outside of clay.

She can improve, but the kind of flaws that I think she has on grass are extremely hard to get over. Either you have the game to deal with low bounce and fast reactions, or you don't.

She can and will do well at Wimbledon, but I don't think she has a great game for grass overall.

Mashafaaaaan
Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:56 PM
Didnt she beat Venus in a fast surface at the Aussies. And she was the closest to Sharapova in the same tournament where she could have easily won the first set. And the Aussies was imho the worst Ive seen Ana play.

And cant a player improve? Scott has helped her shed a lot of weight. Also for me her forehand returns are much better compared to the Us and Aussie Open.

What the fuck are you talking about?:rolleyes:
Ana could have easily won what against Maria, Maria did some stupid DF and Ana take advantage of it; and it wasn't a fast surface not faster as US courts and Wimbledon courts and she still lost in two sets against Maria.
Ana has no chances against Maria and WS on grass and on hardcourts, it's so obvious.

BuTtErFrEnA
Jun 22nd, 2008, 08:52 PM
she picked masha....:yawn: as usual....if they play on sand she'd pick masha

husse
Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:42 PM
The AO is fast? :lol: You're kidding me. It's probably the slowest thing outside of clay.

She can improve, but the kind of flaws that I think she has on grass are extremely hard to get over. Either you have the game to deal with low bounce and fast reactions, or you don't.

She can and will do well at Wimbledon, but I don't think she has a great game for grass overall.

Excuse me, its universally known that grass is the second slowest surface. And didnt she go to the semifinals last year, in a surface she has rarely played on.

She has already faster reactions than last year, so the only negative is the low bounce.

There are many positives this surface brings out of Anas game and you shouldnt base your whole argument on a few nervous games she had LAST year.

If your a fan of Ana of course!

husse
Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:53 PM
What the fuck are you talking about?:rolleyes:
Ana could have easily won what against Maria, Maria did some stupid DF and Ana take advantage of it; and it wasn't a fast surface not faster as US courts and Wimbledon courts and she still lost in two sets against Maria.
Ana has no chances against Maria and WS on grass and on hardcourts, it's so obvious.

You should probably read the whole post before you respond stupidly. If Ana, who was also serving badly, would have played even a little bit better, she might have won.

Matt01
Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:55 PM
Ana has no chances against Maria and WS on grass and on hardcourts, it's so obvious.


:bs: You are seriously getting on my nerves with your crap. You are worse than sweetcleo :help: :tape:

OsloErik
Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:56 PM
This is the most asinine paragraph I have ever read. "Between these three
they have conquered WImbledon seven times." Please. And Maria won ONCE? Yeah, she had a big big share of those seven times :help:

Well, I think the larger point is that they've won 7 of the past 8 tournaments, and they're all in the top 10, which means they're the only former champions who have anything close to resembling form. Mauresmo and Davenport can't say that they've reached a slam quarterfinal in the past year. These three can.

AcesHigh
Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:56 PM
sharapova is the most accomplished grass court player of the last 10yrs so she should be the favorite. She defeated at least 15 top 10 players at wimbledon during her career including the #1 player a couple of times. So much congrats to sharapova.. she's the best grass court player out there so who cares about anything else. Yes she was trounced a couple times over the past 3 yrs by someone name Venus Williams who wasn't even ranked in the top 10 and one time outside the top 20 at the time.

I can't believe people misunderstood this post. :help:

Craig.
Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:58 PM
I can't believe people misunderstood this post. :help:

I know :lol:

It's mindnumbingly obvious that that poster was being sarcastic.

BuTtErFrEnA
Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:59 PM
I can't believe people misunderstood this post. :help:

i know :lol: but before i gloat....he's obviously being sarcastic right :lol:

Il Primo!
Jun 22nd, 2008, 10:24 PM
This is the most asinine paragraph I have ever read. "Between these three
they have conquered WImbledon seven times." Please. And Maria won ONCE? Yeah, she had a big big share of those seven times :help:

I know right:lol:

selesbooz
Jun 22nd, 2008, 10:26 PM
was it her or Evert that favored Sharapova to beat Serena at AO 2007, if so :haha:
Austin's stupid opinion doesn't matter to me, the Williams Sisters have great draws to go far and I don't need her to tell me that:o

I believe that it eas the entire world that predicted that when big fat, sloppy, nasty Serena rolled into Melbourne:tape:
Shit happens:lol:

Apoleb
Jun 22nd, 2008, 10:51 PM
Excuse me, its universally known that grass is the second slowest surface. And didnt she go to the semifinals last year, in a surface she has rarely played on.

She has already faster reactions than last year, so the only negative is the low bounce.

There are many positives this surface brings out of Anas game and you shouldnt base your whole argument on a few nervous games she had LAST year.

If your a fan of Ana of course!

Grass is the second slowest surface? Are you for real? And on top of that, it's "universally known" as such? :haha:

You're either a troll or just really ignorant. In any case, it's a waste of time to continue this debate.