I have taken some heat for predicting another Serena Williams championship run here at Wimbledon, after having previously picked her to win Roland Garros.
Like I wrote in my previews for both the French Open, as for Wimbledon, I believe the tournament winner will come out of the quarterfinal the two of them will play against each other. Making the previews for the Grand Slam in Paris, I was aware of the fact that Justine was the better clay court player, but I believed Serena’s mentality would get her past the Belgian. However, as the younger Wiliams described herself after their match, the real Serena never showed up. Still, all the credit goes to Henin, because the queen of clay was in a league of her own throughout the tournament.
Now, let’s get back to where we’re at right now and what happened on Centre Court in the early evening of the second Monday of Wimbledon. Serena Williams overcame a calf strain in her left leg en route to an epic three set win over Daniela Hantuchova, the 10th seed from Slovakia. Had rain not set in just shortly after Serena cramped up, there was hardly a chance the ’02 and ’03 Wimbledon champion was going to win this match. Now, even though Serena lost the tiebreaker coming out of the locker room two hours later, and was nowhere near being a hundred percent fit, the injury had improved enough, so that the seventh-seeded American could will her way to victory in the final set. Not for the first time in her career, Serena’s intensity brought out the best in her, but more importantly, it intimidated Hantuchova into producing more and more unforced errors.
I think it’s fair to say the real Serena Williams showed up today, and I don’t think she will be leaving anytime soon. Serena will now get another shot at Henin in their quarterfinal match on Wednesday, and assuming she will be fully fit by then, her chances to beat the Belgian have only increased. If the Roland Garros beatdown from Henin was not enough of a motivation for Serena, then the extra adrenaline and confidence she will take with her out of the Hantuchova win will surely add fuel to the Serena flame. Henin might be playing the best tennis of her career, I am sticking with the Williams determination.
Enough about Serena and Justine, Wimbledon 2007 has a lot more going on. That is, in between the 347 rain delays we’ve had so far. We have Nikolay Davydenko on the verge of making his first ever fourth round at Wimbledon, even though the Russian had only won one match on grass in his career before 2007. Then there’s the comeback of former No.4 Nicolas Kiefer from Germany, who is giving Novak Djokovic a run for his money in the third round, and 18-year-old Dutchwoman Michaella Krajicek took out last week’s Ordina Open champion Anna Chakvetadze and is through to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Oh, and let’s not forget our newest Serbian star, Janko Tipsarevic, who made it into the fourth round following a win over Fernando Gonzalez.
Still, what has impressed me most so far has been the performance from the 16-year-old Tamira Paszek. The young girl from Austria outplayed Elena Dementieva from the baseline in a cracking match and has a very good shot at making her first ever major quarterfinal. Paszek will take on Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round, but the Russian’s game doesn’t suit the grass courts very well and she has been up and down throughout the tournament so far. Watch for Paszek’s backhand. It’s brutal.
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