Marine of Tennis Notebook has become a regular contributor to Women's Tennis Blog. Now she's making French Open predictions. Do you agree with her?
As we are nearing Roland Garros, tennis enthusiasts are starting to make first predictions about who has got what it takes to win the title. What is interesting about this debate is that there is some hesitation about who to pick as a favorite. The reason is quite simple: No.1 player in the world has won all kinds of tournaments … apart from a Grand Slam.
When Kim Clijsters became a No.1 in 2003, "a No.1 player without a slam" was a new phenomenon in WTA. Her accomplishment was a beginning of the debate which starts off regularly when someone happens to be (un)lucky enough to make it to the top spot "slamless".
The debate opened again with JJ achieving that, and has become pretty intense during the time when Dinara Safina became No.1. We all know what pressure of expectations and constant criticism did with Safina and even though things changed with the arrival of more self-assured Caroline Wozniacki, many people still frown at the No.1 without a Grand Slam crown.
The question "who is the best player in WTA" has become somewhat difficult to answer and therefore it nowadays produces mixed answers, although people tend to select the same couple of names.
So, who is the best player nowadays and who is the most likely to win Roland Garros 2011?
Here are my picks:
1. Caroline Wozniacki– Her performance has shown that she is a No.1 for a reason. Wozniacki goes far or all the way in most of the events she enters and even in Grand Slams rarely leaves before quarterfinals.
2. Kim Clijsters (if healthy) – As she gets older she gets better. Unlike in the past when she was struggling with nerves, nowadays she can stay calm under the pressure and raise her game when she has to. Good example are her three great wins over an old rival, Justine Henin.
3. Ana Ivanovic (??) – Well, I say this with a question mark because her performance can be still quite unstable – at one moment she is up there with the greatest and the next we see her doing poorly. As a former winner she probably has the most self-confidence (and thus highest chances) on clay.
4. Dark horses: Samantha Stosur, Francesca Schiavone, Svetlana Kuznetsova
All had achieved a great success at Roland Garros, although Stosur did not go all the way to win it. However, their performance is rather unpredictable as they all have had ups and downs during this season.
Just a short note: To ease the pressure off slamless No.1s, I would like to remind everyone of the recent occasions when players achieved their career peaks late in their careers, like Francesca Schiavone winning the 2010 French Open and the Morocco victory of Alebrta Brianti (she won her first WTA title at 31). Marine also has a nice post about it, entitled "Golden Oldies". (photos: © Neal Trousdale)