French Open Women: 5 Questions
1) What happened to the Williams sisters, American’s lone hope at the French Open?
Venus Williams blamed her loss on fatigue due to over-training, which jibes with people from her camp who say it is an effort to get her off the practice court. As she gets older she is going to need to train smarter. Fitness still seems to be a topic for Serena, who is far from her top fighting weight, and in the semifinal loss to Justine Henin was displaying a lot of poor footwork. One trains too much, the other too little.
2) How did Svetlana Kuznetsova, some people’s pick to win in Paris, lose a 6-0 set in the quarterfinals?
The Russian’s US Open title could unfortunately be her lone Slam win unless she checks in with a sports psychologist. Kuzy gets tight rather than playing though sticky situations like a champion, such as this week against Anna Ivanovic in her 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 loss. It certainly didn’t help Kuzy’s cause when world No. 1 Roger Federer unexpectedly named her as his pick to win the French, turning up the pressure dial to 11.
3) Who were the breakout women at the French through the first week?
Not exactly breakout material since they are Top 10, but the Serbs, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic continue to push themselves onto the radar of even casual tennis fans with their good looks and better-looking games, moving into the French semifinals. If the WTA Tour is serious about marketing as a “world sport,” these two need to be on a poster together. Jankovic will face top-seeded Justine Henin in the semis, while Ivanovic will square off against No. Maria Sharapova, which leads to the question…
4) Can Maria Sharapova win the French?
Sharapova is far from physically fit, playing on a tendonitis-ridden shoulder, and still moves on the clay like a baby deer who wandered on a frozen lake. Perhaps some year with just the right draw and some grinding practice to improve her mobility, but not this year with the bad wing. Hell of an effort though at a tournament she almost skipped with injury.
5) Venus Williams’ camp said she played the event on a bad foot, and Serena constantly struggles with injuries. Who are the next Americans on the horizon once the Williams retire?
Lining up behind the Williams sisters currently set to make a Top 10 impact are…no one. In fact the four players currently ranked behind the Williams sisters are Meilen Tu who is approaching 30 years of age, veteran Meghann Shaughnessy who’s best years are likely behind her at age 29, Lindsay Davenport who just retired, and tour veteran Laura Granville who struggles to stay in the Top 100. Ranked behind them, not for lack of trying, are the potpourri of players grinding out tournaments at the minor-league level hoping for a breakthrough, with no clear “can’t miss” prospect in sight.
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