Perhaps its just me, but I look at that third picture, and I see the outline of a roll of flab. Far, far smaller than last year, but no way is that the stomach of yesteryear. Still, I must concede she's clearly in better shape. I wish she'd been playing a better calibre of opponent the last two months.
If they hadn't both just lost to Schiavone, the match vs Clijsters would mean more. But anytime people are playing for their country, things like rankings are meaningless. Nobody but Venus can bring more sheer will to a match than Monica. But her road to the OZ title would be four top ten player's deep.
Is the basic tour any stronger than it was three year's ago? For Monica, I think not. If fact, trading Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis in for Venus and Serena Williams as opponents must seem better. About 22 GS titles better.
Lindsay's still here.
Mary Pierce out. Kim Clijsters in.<br />ASV out. Justine Henin in.<br />Conchi out. JenniCap in.
There still aren't many players BETTER than Monica. Maybe three. And another three or so around the same level.
Monica's three year's older. Will better conditioning counter that? I have no idea. By Roland Garros, she'll be ranked #5 - #8. I think that's her best GS shot. From the #9 - #16 rankings, you draw
4r Serena, Kim, Justine, Jelena<br />QF Venus or Martina<br />SF Jen<br />FN Lindsay
It's just so many good players. All of Monica possible fourth round opponents, barring upsets, would be FINALS opponents.
I'll start work on the 500 word essay, just in case, (hi dh) but this looks like one tough road to hoe.