Sharapova Should Shine: Australian Women’s Preview
by Sean Randall | January 14th, 2007, 7:24 pm

I know I don’t do it much, but what the heck, let’s give the women some love and talk women’s draw. Women are meant to be loved, so it’s only appropriate.

Realistically, there are only three, maybe four contenders in the field: Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo, US Open winner Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters and then perhaps the surging Jelena Jankovic. ADHEREL

The second tier would be Nicole Vaidisova, Martina Hingis, Dinara Safina and Sveta Kuznetsova.

Outside of those eight it’s hard to see anyone else making the last four. I know Serena is back, but then again so is her back. That is her back side, which doesn’t look to be getting any smaller. (Lest we forget, the 2005 Australian Open was her last Slam title!)

The Russians Nadia Petrova and Elena Dementieva are intriguing, except that Petro is hurt and Elena doesn’t seem to do well in Australia.

Ana Ivanovic has been MIA of late. And can you really trust Patty Schnyder? I certainly can’t.

So who’s the pick? Well with Henin battling marital problems with her ballkid/husband, the title is fairly wide open between the four contenders I first listed above.

Mauresmo looked rusty losing in the Sydney warmup to Jankovic, but I suspect she’ll be in good form and in good spirits in this her first career Slam title defense. She’ll likely take out Vaidisova in the quarters, so pencil her into the Final Four.

Few players are as hot of late as Jankovic. The Serb reached the semifinals at the US Open and has since tore up the circuit in two events in 2007 winning in Auckland and reaching the final this weekend in Sydney. When she’s not applying the makeup, Jankovic plays a pretty heady game and she can crush the ball, but her fitness remains a question mark, especially at an event where temperatures often climb over 100. But I’ll go with her to reach the semifinals.

For Clijsters, who still maintains her retirement at year-end, this could be her final Australian Open. “Aussie Kim” has lived up to her nickname with four straight Melbourne semifinal or better results, getting bounced by the eventual champ each time. With a July wedding on the horizon to hoopster Brian Lynch, she’s a good pick to reach the semifinals again with a good shot at a fairy tale ending.

But I have to go with the face of women’s tennis and the WTA, Miss Sharapova. The screeching money machine reached the Australian Open semis the last two years and after her September win at the US Open where she beat Mauresmo and Henin to capture the crown, I think that she’ll again rise to the occasion and step up big in Melbourne.

When all the top women are healthy, I think Henin is still the best in the biz with Mauresmo second. But I just think that in Melbourne this year Maria will have the extra incentive to take the title home, even though if it plays out as I suspect I would be rooting for Amelie or even Kim in the semis. So in that case I hope I’m wrong!

To recap for those playing at home:
Semifinals: Mauresmo d. Jankovic; Sharapova d. Clijsters
Final: Sharapova d. Mauresmo

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9 Comments for Sharapova Should Shine: Australian Women’s Preview

Maria P Says:

If I had to bet, I’d say Sharapova also. She looked like she was improving last fall. At 19, she’s probably better than last January.

JCF Says:

“Realistically, there are only three, maybe four contenders in the field: Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo, US Open winner Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters and then perhaps the surging Jelena Jankovic.”

You do realise that results are not always ‘realistic’ right?

“Few players are as hot of late as Jankovic. The Serb reached the semifinals at the US Open and has since tore up the circuit in two events in 2007 winning in Auckland and reaching the final this weekend in Sydney.”

You forgot to mention that she choked away any chance of winning the championship at sydney. The only way she can win this is if her opponent is an even bigger choker. And yes, Amelie herself still chokes. Look at some of her losses since winning Wimbledon. There are some bagels. Sharapova even double bagelled her at the USO. Hard to imagine this happening to someone who is reigning champion at two slams, and was #1 not long ago. It’s just embarrassing.

Tennis Pro Says:

I generally agree with this prediction, but I would not be surprised to see Clijsters beat Maria in the semis and go on to beat Jankovic (not Mauresmo) in the final. We’ll see what happens.

Kevin GB Says:

I lost interset in the womens draw after Henin decided not to go i enjoy watching her as much as i do Federer.
My next 2 favourites are Hingis and Mauresmo but i dont think i would put much money on them, despite Martina’s skilled she will be overpowered by the first player who hits hard enough and Amilie is been bagelled way to often for a grandslam contender.
My new player that i love to hate is Nicole Vaidisova(i really hope she does’nt win) i never thought anyone could make this game look as ugly as Venus and Serena did but she is definatly on par if not surpassing the sisters in this department.

Steven Rahn Says:

I don’t think Hingis is ever going to win a Grand slam if she keeps running into Clijsters in the quarter finals. It a shame, but it seems to be a pattern since her come-back. Her game does not match up well to Kim’s at all. If it were another top players…Kusnetsova, Petrova, even Sharapova
(who she has a win against) she might make the final. She would need her best stuff and some luck in any case. It’s a pity Justine is absent…she would likely have won her second Aussie Open.

Brian Says:

I think we’ll see a Sydney repeat with the sentimental favorite, Clijsters, winning in her final trip to the AO.

topspin me Says:

If there’s anyone so far in the first week of Aus Open who has demonstrated the promise of a win, it is Kim. But this is not to rule out Sharapova. She has been of great form lately, except of course if you subject her high-maintenance glamour to the scorching heat of Melbourne. That has proved to be Sharapova’s Archille’s heels.

yana Says:

Yeah, I miss Justine too. Who knew that she and her husband were having problems? They looked so happy. Best wishes to her in this tough time. I don’t think Vaidisova’s game is ugly. I want her to break through sometime soon, just not now. I’m in Serena’s corner.

Luck really favors Maria. Her draws tend to aid her progress. A lot of the time, it feels like she doesn’t run up against someone who can really give her a hard time until the semis. Maybe she’s just that talented? I don’t know. I think a lot of the reason behind why she doesn’t get the utmost respect is because of the general “Yeah, she won, but . . .” mentality. Yeah, Maria won the US Open, but if Kim hadn’t gotten hurt prior to the tournament. . . Even her Wimbledon win was taken with a grain of salt. When V&S, Martina, or JHH won slams, no one questioned why they were victorious. It’s just assumed that they won because they were the best.

Rockville Says:


How was your crow? Along with Serena’s much back goes a big check. Maria was all thin and got killed. Does that mean that she is just a anorexic player and should not be ranked #1? Dude, it ok to give your opinion, but lay off the name calling because I haven’t seen your appearance or your backhand.

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