Wimbledon Preview Day 5 (The Ladies)

25 Jun

Another day at Wimbledon and another day without too many surprises on the women’s side with the exception of 2-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, which isn’t all that suprising considering the season she’s had and her poor results on grass in the past.  But, non the less, she is out and so are other seeded players like the 23rd seed Zheng Jie and 18th seed Aravane Rezai.  On another note, Serena and Sharapova inched on step closer to their possible epic fourth round encounter on Monday.  Both Maria and Serena look to be in excellent form and if they do meet on Monday, it will prove to be a compelling and highly intriguing match from the start.  But before any of that transpires, we must focus on tomorrow and some women’s matches of note that will take place.  First up on the preview is the first match on Centre Court, Henin and Petrova.

(17) Justine Henin (BEL) vs. (12) Nadia Petrova (RUS)

This match will mark the first time the Justine Henin has stepped foot on Centre Court since her suprising loss in the 2007 semis to an inspired Marion Bartoli.  Henin has never overly impressed at Wimbledon and hasn’t had the best year in 2010, while Petrova is having a stellar year, at least in the Grand Slams.  She soundly defeated Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open and dispatched Venus Williams at Roland Garros.  Despite the Russian’s erratic play at times, Justine has been just as erratic this year losing matches to players like Gisela Dulko, Sam Stosur, and Aravane Rezai, who are great players, but not to the level of Serena, Venus, and Kim Clijsters.  When the draw came out last Friday I predicted this match to be won by the Russian and a week later my prediction has not changed.

Pick: Petrova in 3

Will Nadia Petrova topple the '01 and '06 Wimbledon finalist?

(22) Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) vs. (2) Venus Williams (USA)

The two have played twice in their careers, once here at Wimbledon in 2008 with Venus prevailing in straight sets and another time on the red clay of Madrid with Kleybanova pulling off the upset in a tight three-setter.  Kleybanova won her first tour title earlier in the year and has beaten top players before.  Slowly but surely she is gaining confidence at every tournament she plays but is she ready to topple the 5-time champion?  Probably not, but if she doesn’t let her head get in the way she might be able to hit her hard groundstrokes and make Venus’ life uneasy for a set or so.  Also, not lately but in the past, Venus has had a reputation for having mental lapses in her matches that don’t usually affect the outcome, but make the match more of a long-term battle.   But for the match as a whole, it is Venus with the game and experience to take her to the fourth round.

Pick: Venus in 2, possibly 3 if she looses her concentration at any moment

How far will Venus go in this year's tournament?

(8) Kim Clijsters (BEL) vs. (27) Maria Kirilenko (RUS)

The glamorous Russian, Maria Kirilenko, has had two good Grand Slams coming into Roland Garros (QF’s at the Australian Open, lost to Zheng Jie, eventual semi-finalist and 4th round at Roland Garros, lost to Francesca Schiavone, eventual champion).  Although she hits a fairly flat ball, Kirilenko requires more time to hit her shots, which grass doesn’t give her, and might not be able to get clean hits on her shots with the heavy shots by Clijsters.  They are both baseliners, with Clijsters the far more dominant, and both have similar games.  If Clijsters is off in this match, like she was in Australia or Indian Wells, then Kirilenko will have a chance to win the match, but other than that she will make Kim hit a lot of balls, which will allow Kim to get into a rhythm.  And once she is in the zone, its hard to rattle her, that’s what makes her so good.

Pick: Clijsters in 2 tight sets

Will Clijsters go onto the fourth round?

*As I was putting this entry together, I realized that Petrova has defeated the two other featured match winners in her previous two Grand Slams.

Other matches to keep an eye on

(15) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) vs. (21) Vera Zvonareva (RUS): The “other” Belgium is also in action tomorrow against the always tough Russian Zvonareva.  I expect this match to be crazy with many ups and downs. In the end though, Zvonareva will prevail.  Pick: Zvonareva in 3

(28) Alona Bondarenko (UKR) vs. (4) Jelena Jankovic (SRB): For the 3rd consecutive slam these two women meet in the third round with their record at 1-1 in Grand Slam play this year with Bondarenko edging out Jankovic in Australia before Jankovic defeated Bondarenko in Paris.  Their series this year will go to 2-1 Jankovic this year. Pick: Jankovic in 3

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