Tough one, actually. Jelena's the closest in ranking terms, but I really don't see her in a Slam final any time soon. Maybe - hopefully - Elena D; it still strikes me that this slump which has been going on for over a year *isn't* a true reflection of her talent, and that once she finally breaks out of it she could do serious damage. Daniela - I have a feeling she's going to do big things this year, and I wouldn't be surprised at all.
No-one's mentioned Anna K. Before her injury she'd improved to an extent that you *could* see her on the brink of the next step, and she hasn't been unimpressive this year. She thrives at Wimbledon, where there are traditionally lots of upsets and holes in the draw... there could be a chance there.
I think mentally, Jelena is the most ready, I need to see her performance in Tokyo to be sure, but it seems like that she reach the point where she is confident in beating a lot of players, there are still a lot of players which she still cannot beat like Monica, Venus, Serena (I think) and Lindsay, but so are a lot of top players, I think she is ready for the next step, her chance will be at Wimbledon and French where upsets are iminent
Definitely Dokic. She sacrificed the AO to train, and already have a pretty good game. She's had quite a bit of experience in top tier finals against at least one top player, and therefore knows the amount of pressure at that level. Given this, she'll be the first to debut, although she'll probably not win.
I agree with an earlier poster - i'll have to see how Jelena plays in Toyko this week. She'll either be raring to go, or rusty. but I think she's a good bet to get pretty close.
I'm excited about Hantuchova. Sounds like she's going to be a great player to watch. I think maybe a GS semi for her would be a great 2002.
Ruth in Philly PA USA
Jelena Dokic. Definitely. She's been working on the weaknesses in her game, she's got the drive, the concentration. And perhaps most importantly, she can play on all surfaces. Her best chance would probably be at Wimbledon or RG, but she could make either of the other finals too.
Daniela is a great talent and should do well this year, but I don't think she's quite ready for a GS final. HOpefully, we'll see her in the semis though!