2009 French Open - WTA Draw
So mostly I've discussed what the Men are going to do (maybe) but in case you didn't know, the Ladies of the WTA will be hanging around playing a few Matches in between the times the Men are taking a break. But seriously the Women are playing some great Tennis these days and there's no clear #1 Player in the WTA. Currently Dinara Safina is the #1 Player however in the past two Clay Court Warmup events, I've already seen her lose twice. And almost three times to a woman not even in the Top 10.
I hear that Kim Clijsters is back on the Tour but decided to not start until the US Open for some reason. I would think the French would be the obvious Tournament to get the rust out. Maybe she feels she's not fit enough to deal with the stamina requirements and if that's the case, then it makes sense.
So as I'm watching these French Open Tune Ups, I've been very impressed by
Svetlana Kuznetsova who gets very little consideration but has been playing some very aggressive Ball and I feel if she can sustain the form she's displayed in these past few weeks, she will be a serious Contender to the Title.
Venus Williams is a great Player regardless of what surface she's playing on but Venus is far too impatient for the Clay. She wants to end the point and gets frustrated when she's forced to work a point longer than she's accustomed to. You have to consider Venus as a Contender but I would not place her high on the list of Contenders.
As for Serena Williams, I would place her slightly higher than Venus on the Clay. But her conditioning can be a factor for the dirt. How long can she hang around? If I were coaching an opponent of Serena's I would tell my Player to do everything she can to keep the ball in play. I'm Boxing, if you plant a series of Body shots to your Opponent in the early rounds, it will pay dividends in the later rounds because the Fighter will begin to tire quickly. The reason for this is because, when someone is pounding Body Blows into your Stomach, you expend a large amount of energy tightening your Stomach muscles while not breathing. This is a bad combination in boxing and you want to get out of that situation as soon as possible. Breathing is important especially regulating your breathing to calm your muscles and blood flow.
Well in Tennis, by keeping the ball in play against a Player who's conditioning is suspect, you will learn soon enough if this is going to benefit you later on. I am constantly telling my Students to pay attention to your Opponent. Don't be so much in your World that you don't watch and learn what they are dealing with. If after a long rally you happen to notice your Opponent is struggling to catch their breath and/or breathing with their mouth wide open and walking around a bit. Don't let up on the gas, whatever you do. The very next point, go for the same strategy again. Even if you feel you can put the ball away, hold off a bit. But instead, hit the corners while hopefully making them run again. You'll know if it's working because they will try hard to either go for an out & out winner right away or they will hit an unforced error off a lame shot. So we'll look to see how Serena is playing on the Clay. If she's trying hard to go for winners right from stroke #1 that should tell you she's not into doing any running and running is what you'll want to do as often as possible.
Jelena Jankovic is another great Player who has a clear shot at winning the Title but Jelena's play can be erratic. She's a terrific shot maker for sure and extremely consistent off the ground. One of Jelena's biggest problems is her inability to get a few cheap points from her serve. I see no reason why she can't learn to put some power & placement into her serve like any other Player but for some reason, either she's got mental block about the serve or her Coach just can't get it out of her. I've watched her service motion and you can clearly see why she lacks pop on her serves.
Jelena is not talk so she needs to get up to the ball. Her approach is good and her stance is good but from the moment she tosses the ball in the air, you can see that she tends to toss it straight in the air above her head. I would work on her tossing it a little higher giving her more time to go up for it and also I would get her to toss it outward towards the Court.
I'm not certain what grip she uses but I would entice her to use a Semi Western grip for the serve so she can have more opportunity to slice it outwide with speed. Aside from this, which isn't going to happen before th start of the French, Jelena is a front runner style player and if she's not out front, she breaks down. So with these attributes, again I'd place her in the Contender's column but I dont' see her winning the Crown.
Ana Ivanovic has done it before and can do it again but the girls know how to play her and I don't see her having some much game lately that she can avoid the onslaught of strategies they will throw at her. Contender [YES] Winner [NO]
Elena Dementieva is good enough to win this. She's a veteran now and pretty much knows everyone's game. If I hadn't seen her get totally beaten up by Dinara Safina last week, I'd say look for her to make it to the Finals but Safina trashed her bad and did it in a way that appeared she could do it anytime they meet. Contender [YES] Winner [Maybe]
Now if Justine Henin were back on the Tour, there would be my pick for the Title but since she's not, the current crew of Female Players leaves me up in the air. It would be nice to see Dinara Safina win because if she's going to be the #1 Player, then she should at least have a Grand Slam Title in her pocket.
My pick for the Title is Svetlana Kuznetsova and I'm willing to place serious play money down on it :)