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Ha - ha - ha. Check out the writer's analysis on Venus. Wasn't this the same buzzzzzzz that was going around in 2000 about Venus - and let's not forget last year. In 2000 - the buzz was Venus wasn't committed - and blah - blah - bla. Then - lookie-there - what she upped and done. And there was no way in some folks's minds, that Venus was a contender last year at the FO. Some folks neva learn. If for the most part, everything starts clicking for Venus - then she should get better w/each match.




The main question on everyone’s lip in the build-up to the French Open is whether anyone can prevent Serena Williams from winning her fifth successive Grand Slam. Unsurprisingly, the younger Williams sister starts as the overwhelming favourite for the tournament at Roland Garros, but we should not assume that she will have it all her own way.

Without question, Serena is the dominant player on the WTA Tour at the moment. Her Australian Open success at the start of the season means that she currently holds all four Slams, and she is justifiably installed as favourite to retain her title at 5/6. Yet although she powered her way to victory last year, certain factors suggest that the world number one may fall short on this occasion.

Clay is Serena’s weakest surface; her main weapon – power – is not as effective here as on grass or the hard courts. This weakness was on display when the 21-year old – who declared that she could go through the whole year unbeaten – lost twice recently, both times on clay. Justine Henin-Hardenne defeated her in the final of the Family Circle Cup, and then only last week, Amelie Mauresmo came out on top in Rome. Furthermore, 2002 aside, Williams has not delivered at Roland Garros. This apparent vulnerability on clay will surely offer hope to the chasing pack.

The most likely pretender to the throne is the fast improving Kim Clijsters. The Belgian has taken the first step to ending the Williams sisters’ hold on tennis by forcing herself between the two in the world rankings, and Roland Garros may provide the stage for the youngster to break her Grand Slam duck. The 19-year old has shown terrific form this year, scooping three titles to date, including a recent victory on clay in Rome.

Don’t be put off by Clijsters’ poor showing in France twelve months ago when she made an early exit. Her season was dogged by injury and illness, but the Belgian burst back onto the scene in November, winning the WTA Championships – and just as importantly, beating both Williams along the way. Two years ago, when just seventeen, Clijsters came within a whisker of lifting this title, eventually losing 12-10 in the third set of the final against Jennifer Capriati. Now, on a surface where she excels, the number two seed is poised to go one step further.

Clijster’s compatriot, Justine Henin-Hardenne, should also be firmly in contention. The diminutive Belgian has matched Clijsters this year with three tournament wins. Unquestionably, the most noteworthy of these was the defeat of Serena Williams in Charleston, a victory that will have come as a massive psychological boost. Although Henin-Hardenne crashed out in the first round last year, her Grand Slam record is strong, including semi-final appearances both here and in Australia, as well as the Wimbledon final in 2001. Given her form of late, another strong showing is to be expected.

In contrast, the prospects of Venus Williams do not look so healthy. The elder sister is suffering yet another poor year in comparison to the highs of 2001. The third seed has won only one title this season, and there are question marks over her fitness after she picked up an abdominal victory at the start of May. In addition, doubts have been voiced about Venus’ commitment to the game – apparently she is preoccupied with her interior design business. Of course, it would be foolhardy to write off someone of Venus’ talent, but on current form she may be on course for an early exit.

Amelie Mauresmo may have never gone further than the fourth round at Roland Garros, but this will surely change soon. The local favourite thrives on clay, and only last week accounted for Serena Williams in Rome before narrowly losing out to Clijsters in the final. Over the coming fortnight, she could well repeat or better her last two Grand Slam performances when she reached the semi-finals. Ranked fifth in the world, Mauresmo would have achieved more were it not for a succession of injuries. In 2001, the French star was knocked out in the first round when hotly tipped for glory, but now, with less pressure on her shoulders, she could deliver the prize for the home crowd.

Few of the other big name players look likely to make much of an impression. Two-time winner Jennifer Capriati, a 20/1 shot, should feature in the second week, but she has not won a title for over a year - her form is solid rather than spectacular. Meanwhile Lindsay Davenport, who hasn’t won a match at Roland Garros since 1999, is better suited to the faster surfaces. The one Grand Slam missing from her collection is likely to slip by again. Elsewhere Jelena Dokic and Monica Seles are struggling with form and injury respectively, while Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova has endured a poor clay season.

Team WTAworld, Senior Member
7,996 Posts
WTF? I wanna know why the author thought it was worthy to make note of Kim's illness and injuries but not Justine's illness? does that even make any sense? :fiery:
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