Olympic tennis can be an ugly spectacle. For every Serena, Venus and Maria, there’s a Jabeur, Duque-Marino, and Cepede Royg gifted into the draw by the International Tennis Federation. But by the end of the fortnight (or likely the end of the first night), look for the odd names to be out and the cream (and strawberries) to have risen to the top at the All England Club.
The seeds in order for the 2012 London Olympics tennis held at Wimbledon are 1. Victoria Azarenka (BLR), 2. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), 3. Maria Sharapova (RUS), 4. Serena Williams (USA), 5. Samantha Stosur (AUS), 6. Petra Kvitova (CZE), 7. Angelique Kerber (GER), 8. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN), 9. Sara Errani (ITA), 10. Li Na (CHN), 11. Ana Ivanovic (SRB), 12. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK), 13. Vera Zvonareva (RUS), 14. Maria Kirilenko (RUS), 15. Sabine Lisicki (GER), and 16. Nadia Petrova (RUS) for the 64-player draw.
Here’s a look at how the four sections of the draw shake out:
A real cupcake draw for the world No. 1 Azarenka. Who she will face in the quarterfinals is the big question. The immune-weakened Venus Williams? The No. 7 seed Kerber? Venus starts against the French Open runner-up Errani. If the slappy Nadia Petrova (who starts against Jie Zheng) gets hot, she could give Azarenka a tester in the third round. The semis are Azarenka’s to lose.
The Serena Section starts with a bang as the Wimbledon champion starts against fellow former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic. Unfortunately Jankovic’s confidence level is somewhere between first-round-loss and zero. In the third round Serena could face former world No. 2 and crying champ Vera Zvonareva. In the quarters Serena is likely looking at former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki or crafty veteran Daniela Hantuchova, but there are also floater possibilities in youngsters Tamira Paszek, Alize Cornet and Yanina Wickmayer. Also watch out for Francesca Schiavone floating around. Serena into the semis regardless.
We’ll call this the Maria Section, and Masha starts against Israel’s Shahar Peer. A Kim Clijsters-Sam Stosur second round meeting is likely. Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic starts against American riser Christina McHale, and Maria vs. Sabine Lisicki lurks in the third round. Clijsters should be inspired, so let’s say Sharapova vs. Clijsters in the quarters, with Sharapova moving into the semis.
The crafty Aggie Radwanska and former Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova will be favorites to meet in the quarters at the bottom of the draw. Radwanska starts against Julia “Gorgeous” Georges, and Kvitova against Katarina Bondarenko. Floaters in the section include Sorana Cirstea, Flavia Pennetta, Dominika Cibulkova, and Maria Kirilenko.
The Olympics are Davis Cup and Fed Cup X 2, so the amped-up patriotism can produce some weird results. Regardless, let’s say Serena d. Azarenka and Sharapova d. Radwanska in the semis, and Serena to take gold.
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