tennis is going through a tough period because it is searching for a leader and
an exciting era. Sooner or later new faces will come to the top, the champions
of the next decade. This year's Wimbledon will be even more open than Roland Garros
because the comeback of the Williams sisters only adds to the uncertainty.
if the youngest of the Williamses has just come back from a whole year out of
competition due to a foot injury and other health issues, she remains for me the
greatest champ of the last 10 years and so one of the big favourites for a
tournament she has won several times. A few years ago she managed a successful
comeback at the Australian Open following knee surgery and it was a shock for
the tennis world because nobody could guess she'd win with no preparation and overweight.
But this player knew that mental strength can make up for nearly everything else.
She proved that everything is possible when people believe deeply in themselves
and are ready to fight. The Eastbourne event was also the perfect preparation
for Serena ahead of Wimbledon. In the first match she struggled initially but
then found her range and in the second round she lost a close match against Vera
Zvonareva; she played at a high standard.
her sister Serena, Venus is returning after a long injury period.
Serena, Venus can shoot back to the top fast.
Serena, Venus has won a lot of Grand Slams - and especially here.
finally, like Serena, her game style is suited perfectly to the surface. She is
full of ambition and confidence, with her eyes locked on the prize. She showed
she was ready to shine in Eastbourne - so people should pay attention to her.
Russian is among the few players in the draw with Grand Slams in her pocket,
which is a big advantage. Since the start of the season, Maria has shown how
determined she is to climb to the top again. She is improving and finding her
way little by little. In reaching the semi-finals of the French Open she showed
her tennis was back at a great level, even on a surface that didn't really suit
her. She will shine even brighter on London's grass.
No.1 player in the world is going through a tough time. Criticised for being a
Slam-less No.1 - therefore sitting on the throne without any real credit - the
Dane has relied on being confident, steady and patient. But today, with a few girls
improving greatly such as Li Na, Petra Kvitova, Julia Goerges and Marion
Bartoli, her flaws seem larger than in the past. Her love of media exposure and
the way she deals with events leading to Grand Slams give away her thoughts on
her career: she has tried to appear unworried about the Slams, but the pressure
remains upon her shoulders. Now she and her coach, father Piotr, have finally
decided to place preparation for the big events at the centre of their attention.
She will start this Wimbledon as an outsider because she doesn't have the
titles or experience on Slams and on grass - on this surface, her game lacks crushing
power and her limits are more obvious.
Frenchwoman has never before been as good as she is now and arrives after reaching
a semi-final at the French Open, a surface that is the least suited to her
game. Like Sharapova, it's easy to imagine she can go even further at
Wimbledon, an event where she has already reached a final and which displays
best her abilities on serve, return and her preference for aggressive tennis
and short points. But I'm not sure she will be able to sustain this level of
intensity for long enough. Her physical abilities and her preparation do not
allow her to last that long; her natural abilities are not strong enough to
make up for this either. The expectations of her are far greater now also - and
greater still since she won in Eastbourne last week - so while handling that stress
it seems a tall order to hope for a big result here. I fear that it would have
been better for her to prepare more calmly for Wimbledon and keep her energy.
It's hard for Marion to play back-to-back matches, and even more so when she
hasn't had a break.
am a big fan of Kvitova. Young - born in 1990 - ambitious and improving a lot,
she is playing at a high level although she remains fragile because she always
dictates the points by taking all the risks. She's a true outsider for this
Wimbledon because her game style is perfect for the surface. Able to shine on
clay too - she won in Madrid this year - her huge lefty serve, flat shots and
big forehand especially make her a very dangerous opponent.
had a tremendous 2010 season, reaching the best ranking of her career (No.2)
and two Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon and the US Open). 2011 has not started as well.
Her rivals are playing better and better while the Russian changed coach
several times, lost some energy and career guidelines. She remains a great
competitor and tough to beat player because her experience and willpower give
her the edge over most of the field - but not over the top players.
Chinese, who just won the French Open, is arrives with a new status. It is
going to be tough for her to win again here, though, so quickly after her Parisian
triumph. If she is able to rely on the confidence she has won, she may also be
very tired mentally. It's never easy to digest a first big win. As for the
surface, it should suit her game because of the speed it produces.
we should not forget Azarenka, who has played amazingly since Miami. Struggling
for a year, she was set free by that title, going on to win in Marbella and
reach the final in Madrid. She is now a steady player who rarely loses against
lower-ranked players. But she continues to have issues against players able to
take the ball early and to attack her on her forehand because she has too big a
preparation on that shot. Her serve is also a bit too soft still so she's an
easy victim on this surface for players able to speed up the game like the
Williamses, Kvitova or Bartoli.