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Discussion Starter #1
Can Serena Make It Five Slams In A Row?
By Sandra Harwitt
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Special to WTAFANS.COM

As the French Open is about to get underway this coming Monday, the big question that will be swirling around Roland Garros is whether Serena Williams can win her fifth Grand Slam title in a row?

Williams, who started her reign over the four majors at last year's French Open, going on to win Wimbledon, the US Open and then the Australian Open earlier this season, is bound to have all eyes on her as she attempts to march through the 2003 draw in Paris. For most players, that kind of pressure would be enormous, but Williams doesn't seem to sweat about anything these days.

As she enters the grounds at Roland Garros, Serena comes armed with a remarkable 26-2 record for the year - if those numbers don't send chills down opponent's backs, you wonder what would? Nevertheless, if there are a few Serena skeptics out there, they will be making mention that Williams experienced those two losses recently - both on clay -- which could mean she will be vulnerable in Paris.

The first loss came to Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne at the Family Circle Cup in April. The second loss came in a three-set semifinal in Rome at the hands of Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo. There is no denying that Henin and Mauresmo are two players who are very capable on all surfaces, including on the red clay in Paris, so their victories send a message that there is hope when fellow players try to beat Williams.

Nevertheless, it is hard to ignore that Williams felt that the fault for the loss to Mauresmo was her own - it wasn't that the Frenchwoman did anything special to send her packing. At the time, Williams said, "Everything went wrong for me. I was making too many errors and struggling with my serve. I guess that sums it up. You can't win a match with a second serve. There was nothing in particular she did. When I lose a match, it's usually because of how I played. In the end, it's better to lose in Rome than in Paris."

Clearly, Serena has the situation puzzled out and it is better to lose in Rome than in Paris, if you have to lose at all. And even someone as dominant as Serena will occasionally experience a defeat or two. But it seems prudent to expect Serena to arrive at Roland Garros ready to defend her title and to be donning her most intimidating demeanor.

That does not mean that there aren't a few players out there that aren't in a position to challenge Serena's authority if things conveniently fall into place for them. There's Kim Clijsters, Henin, Jennifer Capriati, Mauresmo and, of course, Serena's older sis, Venus, who could stir up some trouble for the world No. 1.

Clijsters, who recently moved into the No. 2 ranking position ahead of Venus Williams, is looking like a serious threat. She just earned her third title of the year at Rome by upending Mauresmo in the final. The Belgian is playing confident tennis and if she can keep her head if she gets to crunch time - something she was unable to accomplish when leading Serena in the Australian Open semifinals this year - it could lead to a first career Grand Slam trophy in Paris.

Big sis Venus has played the understudy role to Serena at all four of the last Grand Slams and that factor could continue to serve as a big mental distraction for the former world No. 1. Venus remembers that her father always said Serena would eventually be the better player and also remembers that not that long ago she was the more successful sister until the baby of the family scored big at Roland Garros last year. Venus needs not only to believe she can, once again, beat Serena. She also needs to take advantage of her advantages - her height should translate to a big, powerful, reliable first and second serve, which it doesn't, at least not yet. And the breadth of her wingspan should translate into her being comfortable cutting off points at the net which it doesn't, at least not yet.

Henin will head into the French knowing she's had a recent win over Serena - that could give her a big boost if she finds herself facing the top dog of the women's tour. Henin has a different style than the other players on tour - she is more artistry than power in many circumstances and that presents Serena with having to give a bit more thought to the situation.

Capriati scored the title in Paris in 2001 and has the aggressive baseline game that fares well on the dirt. But her confidence has been shaky since she won a second consecutive Australian Open trophy in January 2002 and the top players are all aware of her vulnerabilities, especially her lack of a credible second serve.

Mauresmo's pressure at the French is simply being French. The crowd would love nothing better than to see a Frenchwoman win the title and Mauresmo never seems able to forget that fact with every stroke of the ball. The result is that her tailor-made game for Court Centrale never really shines at the one place she wants to shine more than any place else on earth - her best results in eight appearances at Roland Garros was fourth round showings in 2000 and 2002.

If anyone is likely to dethrone the defending champion at Paris, the most likely candidates will be Clijsters, Venus, Henin, Capriati, or Mauresmo. But if the same Serena Williams whose been showing up at the past four Grand Slams arrives at Roland Garros, it's going to be a tough road to victory for anyone but the reigning champion.
 

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She can make it 5, but there are about 4 or 5 players out there that can beat her. Wait and see.
 

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yes for sure
 

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No she musnt not.
 

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Five who can plus the one most likely.

Let them all bring their A games, for once, and it'll be a great tournament for fans.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ok Serena is the player to beat the French Open this year but this article says why a player could fail on clay .


Why players fail on clay
By Alex Stober
May 25 2003
The Age

The French Open is the toughest tournament to win because of what a player's body has to cope with. You have to prepare mentally and physically but, most importantly, pace yourself. If you don't, you can waste all your energy in the first couple of days and suddenly you are running flat.

It's important to monitor yourself at Roland Garros so that you don't do too much or too little off the court. You have to be prepared to play two weeks of five-set matches on clay. So much effort has to be put in, with lots of long rallies and plenty of movement left and right. It's really physical and gruelling, plus everyone on the other side of the net is giving you a hard time.

Compared with a hardcourt, you are having to try all sorts of different things on clay because you are putting much more effort into the serve to get it to kick off the surface and generally hitting with much more spin. In the long term, that will affect your shoulder and your wrist. Running from left to right can lead to knee problems, ankle problems and all sorts of other injuries.

On clay, a good recovery after matches is important - cooling down and getting food in you to charge your batteries again so you are ready for the next one. Guys like me are always a lot busier during the French because of the strain it puts on the players' bodies.

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