Tenaciously Tennis

WTA Post-Wimbledon Roundup

We’ve taken a look at the ATP tour, now it’s time to examine the WTA ranking moves. Who benefited from the two weeks on grass, and who suffered? Here’s a breakdown of the WTA tour position switch-ups.

  • Serena Williams took home the Wimbledon trophy for the second year in a row to break away definitively from the pack. Serena deserves the top sport for a long time. Should she win the US Open crown, too, she’ll be unstoppable.
  • While Serena is the strongest world number one in a while, the number two and three players are shaky. Both Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki ascended to the spots, respectively. Do they deserve the positions? Certainly due to the fact that both play matches and win. Furthermore, both are Grand Slam finalists. But there’s no feeling that they really own those spots, or are likely to keep them for any significant amount of time. No one else really does.
  • Venus Williams, meanwhile, the world number two before the tournament dropped as a result At number four, things are looking glum for the five-time Wimbledon champion. Let’s hope she picks up her Grand Slam game at the US Open.
  • Finalist Vera Zvonareva battled herself and her opponents to make her way to the match against Serena. She’s also now back inside the top ten at the number nine spot. Let’s see if she can get her head back in the game and continue to surprise us with the poise that brought her to the finals, not the self doubt that she showed afterward.
  • Victoria Azarenka and Nadia Petrova both got bumped a few spots. The two former top ten players now find themselves at number 18 and 19, respectively. Look familiar? Well, that’s the same as John Isner and Sam Querrey on the men’s side. The Americans’ stories, however, are ones of which to be proud.
  • Petra Kvitova and Tsvetana Pironkova both had fairytale runs to the semifinals. With their success, they now enjoy career high rankings. I foresee both within the top twenty by the year’s end. They have the games to do it, albeit drastically different ones.
  • Dinara Safina continues to sink. She dropped eleven spots to fall to number 33 in the world. Things aren’t going her way these days and probably won’t for quite some time. I don’t see an end-of-the-year turnaround for the Russian.
  • The Italian qualifier Kaia Kanepi boosted her ranking 42 positions to number 38, while Klara Zakpalova, who made it to the fourth round, shot to 43.
  • Melanie Oudin, Ana Ivanovic, and Sorana Cirstea all dropped, but yet look so promising to make good showings at the US Open. Ivanovic, of course, has the biggest potential to make it back to the final rounds if only she could find her game again. Oudin, on the other hand, proved she could do it last year when she made it to the quarterfinals. Cirstea has the game. Is the belief there? She did, after all, make it to the quarterfinals of the 2009 French Open. Thus, she knows what’s it takes to go far.

Women’s Semifinals Hold True to Form; Berdych Beats Djokovic

While the quarterfinals sent shock-waves through the draw, paralyzing Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters in its force, the semifinals stayed with the seeding. The Wimbledon finals: Serena Williams versus Vera Zvonareva. Both matches, however, were impressive and filled with varying shades of drama.

For the men, a Federer-less semifinal didn’t seem all to out-of-the-ordinary. This mostly was due to Tomas Berdych’s dismantling of Novak Djokovic in three sets.

Here’s a breakdown of the most recent action at the 2010 Wimbledon.

1. Vera Zvonareva versus Tsvetana Pironkova:

In the first match of the day, the 21st seed played the number 82nd Pironkova. In the first set, Zvonareva looked unsteady, succumbing to the superior tactical shot-making of the Bulgarian. With her slice forehand, off-pace shots, and flat backhand, Pironkova bested Zvonareva 6-3 in a routine first set.

That superior play faltered in the second and third sets. Zvonareva figured out Pironkova’s slow ball tactics and become more aggressive as the match progressed. With a strong mental game — a rarity for the breakdown prone Russian — she advanced, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Pironkova is a player to be highly respected after this run to the semis for a number of reasons. Her game is beautiful — the slice forehand is a rare shot these days, and for her to master it and not be pressured from using it shows a strong self-confidence. Also, never during the match did she look fazed. She played with the confidence of an experience woman in the later stages of a Grand Slam, especially after taking out Venus quite easily. With this result, she’ll find herself within the top 40 in the world. Can she go further? Yes. I see her inside the top 20 by the year’s end.

Zvonareva has the biggest match of her career in front of her. Who does she face? Let’s just say she won’t be happy about the result.

2. Serena Williams versus Petra Kvitova:

There was something about Kvitova that I had my eye on from the get-go — when she played Sorana Cirstea in the first round. Of course, I’m not going to be so bold as to say she’d make her way all the way to the semifinals, but I’m honestly not so surprised that she made it this far. She has the height at 6’1, the game — with that huge forehand and strong lefty serve — , and the fight similar to that of Maria Sharapova. Sadly, her match ended just like Sharapova’s. Kvitova lost in two sets to the veteran Serena 7-6 (5), 6-2.

But if anything, Kvitova will be around for quite awhile to do major damage at the Grand Slams. It’s just a matter of gaining that extra confidence and toning down those unforced errors. After all’s said and done, that’s what cost her the match —  a few points in that first set tiebreaker.

Serena played like a true three-time Wimbledon champion. Her serve, which has been exceptional for the whole tournament, didn’t fail. She’s unstoppable and deserves to take home the title.

3. Novak Djokovic versus Berdych:

In the first men’s match of the semifinals, Djokovic — the number three seed — attempted to fend off Berdych, the giant slayer of the tournament. In the quarterfinals, he took out Federer in four sets. Here, he didn’t fail to stun once more. As the12th seed, Berdych outplayed Djokovic to win, 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-3.

Djokovic didn’t player an aggressive game from the start; he was too defensive, proving no match for Berdych’s big game.

4. Rafael Nadal versus Andy Murray:

This was Murray’s match to win. He took out Nadal at the Australian Open to get to the finals against Federer, Nadal has nagging injuries, and Murray had the support of the crowd. With chances along the way, Murray couldn’t pull off the upset. He lost 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Back in the finals of Wimbledon, Nadal has the chance to win another back-to-back French Open and Wimbledon combination — one of the hardest feats in sports. Against Berdych, who lacks the same level of experience, I think Nadal is the big favorite. That, however, has a large asterisk next to it. The Czech comes off wins over the world number two and three, proving he has the ability to take out anyone, even Nadal.

6. End Note:

The finals are set. Originally, I called for an all-Williams final for the third year in a row. For the men, a classic Federer-Nadal epic. That’s not the case. But what we do have are four players who play the game big. Serena and Nadal have the experience, while Zvonareva and Berdych are on fire.

Regardless, I see experience taking out the first-time finalists. Serena will win in two sets and Nadal fends off a bigger test from Berdych in four.

Day Three Results Rundown

Day three proved to be filled with upsets and sharp play from the top tier of the current tennis all-stars. Here’s a brief summary of noteworthy results.

The WTA:

  • Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, and Maria Sharapova all record easy victories in their first round matches.
  • Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka advance with their 6-3, 6-3 wins. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova only needs one more again to beat Iveta Benesova.
  • French Open finalist Sam Stosur joins Francesca Schiavone in defeat after straight sets loss to Kaia Kanepi.
  • Na Li and Jie Zheng make it to round two in straight sets.
  • Petra Kvitova, a player I have my eye on, takes out Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-2.
  • American Vania King set to play decisive match against Daniela Hantuchova tomorrow.
  • Serena and Venus Williams team up to continue their doubles major title string up success. They’re shooting for five in a row.

The ATP:

  • Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Sam Querrey, and Robin Soderling advance in three sets.
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga comes back strong in first match after retiring at the French Open.
  • Seeds Nicholas Almagro, Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Marcos Baghdatis fall, while unseeded American James Blake continues to struggle. Fabio Fognini upset Fernando Verdasco, too.
  • John Isner’s match is held at two sets apiece against Nicholas Mahut.

Wimbledon Predictions – The WTA Tour

Should I even be looking at anyone besides the Williams sisters given their track record at Wimbledon? Probably not. But, then again, anything can happen, and it’s always fun tracking the draws of a Grand Slam. There’s a strong showing this year with the Belgians back, others making big moves, a certain Russian looking good, and a slew of other players vying for the breakthrough feeling Francesca Schiavone captured at the French Open. So, without further ado, here are my predictions.

The First Quarter:

Notables – Serena Williams (1), Dominika Cibulkova, Lucie Safarova (25), Daniela Hantuchova (24), Maria Sharapova (16), Na Li (9), Anne Keothavong, Svetlana Kuznetsova (19), Sara Errani (32), Agnieszka Radwanska (7)

This section of the draw belongs to the younger Williams sister and Sharapova. With Michelle Larcher de Brito along the way, Serena faces a loud opponent, but should dismantle her easily. In the fourth round, the decibels will drop, but the competition will get much fiercer with Sharapova in her future. I see that match being an excellent display of tennis. It’s too bad it’ll need to come so soon. Of the two, I’m going with Serena to win in three sets. Sharapova brings the intensity and the grass court experience from the pre-Wimbledon warm-up, but Serena’s healthier, and she has the career edge with a 5-2 record against the Russian. In fact, the only times Sharapova prevailed over Serena was during her momentous 2004 Wimbledon final win and in the tour championships later that year. Fast forward a few years, and it’s a completely different setting. On the bottom half, I see Radwanska making it to the fourth round, where she’s likely to face Na Li of China. There, Li’s recent win over Sharapova will show itself, and she’ll make it to the quarterfinals to face Serena.

The Final Four: Serena plays and beats Sharapova, while Radwanska loses to Li in two lopsided sets.

The Second Quarter:

Notables – Caroline Wozniacki (3), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (29), Jie Zheng (23), Sorana Cirstea, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka (14), Flavia Pennetta (10), Aravane Rezai (18), Alexandra Dulgheru (31), Kimiko Date Krumm, Sam Stosur (6)

This is a difficult part of the draw. So many strong players appeal to the avid tennis fan that I can hardly make a decision. Going based on the seeding might not work. Therefore, I’m going to go with my gut. Wozniacki should make it to the third round, where I suspect she’ll meet Pavlyuchenkova. I think the Russian will put up a stronger fight than in the past, despite her poor record against Wozniacki. She’s lost each of their three meetings. Regardless, I see the Dane advancing. In the fourth round an even tougher test awaits her with the feisty Azarenka back on track. Although she lost to Makarova last week, I don’t see her being stopped by Wozniacki. She’ll win in three sets to make it to the quarterfinals, proving she belongs back in the top ten. I’m also seeing something interesting happening with Cirstea and Kvitova, whichever one passes their first round battle. In the bottom half, I like Rezai and Sam Stosur to advance to the fourth round. Sam’s experience should pay off, although her loss at the French might still be effecting her. I put Rezai as wanting it a little more than Stosur.

The Final Four: Azarenka surprises Wozniacki, and Rezai tops Stosur in three sets (although that’s a serious question mark).

The Third Quarter:

Notables – Kim Clijsters (8), Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Maria Kirlenko (27), Justine Henin (17), Patty Schnyder, Nadia Petrova (12), Yanina Wickmayer (15), Vera Zvonareva (21), Alyona Bondarenko (28), Jelena Jankovic (4)

The battle of the Belgians is bound to take place in the fourth round. There, I put Henin a notch above Clijsters, who was out of the French Open with injury. Henin wants it more — this is the reason she’s back, and she will go down fighting her hardest. Along the way, she needs to watch out for Petrova (unless Schnyder takes her out first, which I really hope will happen!). In the bottom section, I’m betting that Alison Riske of the United States continues her exceptional streak at Wimbledon. If she can take out Wickmayer in the first round, I see her fighting her way in a string of three set wins to the fourth round, where’ll probably meet up with Jankovic. At that point, she’s likely to be too tired out and mentally fatigued for the experienced Serb, who by the way won’t have problem making it there with a pretty open draw as it stands.

The Final Four: Henin dismisses her compatriot Clijsters in three sets. In the bottom half, Riske (who I hope can take out Wickmayer) reaches the fourth round before falling to Jankovic in another serious showdown that goes the length.

The Fourth Quarter:

Notables – Francesca Schiavone (5), Yaroslava Schvedova (30), Kateryna Bondarenko (34), Marion Bartoli (11), Shahar Peer (13), Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza, Melanie Oudin (33), Alisa Kleybanova (26), Ekaterina Makarova, Venus Williams (2).

I like this section a lot. There’s a lot of potential for a strong showing by a few surprises, although ultimately there’s no picking against Venus to make the quarterfinals. The top section is a much easier pick. I don’t see Schiavone channeling the champion spirit that won her a Grand Slam. I do see her making the fourth round, where she’ll face Bartoli. Remember her? She made it to the Wimbledon final a few years ago (although it really feels like decades. I have a feeling we’ll see a quarterfinal rematch with Bartoli losing to Venus eventually. In the bottom section, Ivanovic is likely to fall to the Israeli peer in the first round. Another disappointment for the former world number one. Hopefully, Oudin gets her game back to take out Peer in the third round. If so, she’ll no doubt meet Venus. However, the older Williams sister will face a tough challenge in Makarova, the winner over Azarenka a few days ago.

The Final Four: Schiavone falls to Bartoli in two sets, while Venus ousts Oudin.

Second Week Predictions:

  • Sharapova screeches to a halt against Serena in three. Serena sends off Li in two sets.
  • Azarenka raises her game to defeat Rezai in two sets.
  • Henin handles Jankovic easily in the hopes of finally realizing her dream to hold the Wimbledon trophy up high.
  • Venus comes away with another win against Bartoli.

In the semifinals, Serena beats Azarenka in a repeat of the Australian open semifinal, although much quicker this time. In the bottom half, I’m having difficulty deciding between Venus and Henin. Both want to make it so badly. I think Venus’ experience will pay off, and she’ll stop Henin in three close sets to prevent deja vu of this year’s Australian Open final.

As for the men, I’m waiting on predicting the champion of the event until I feel strongly one way or the other.

Click here to look at the complete women’s draw.

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