Roland Garros Preview – Les Femmes

by Abe Kuijl | May 25th, 2007, 6:08 pm

The draws are out, the players are in Paris. It’s time for the previews.

Top Quarter

Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal are sharing the same mission at this year’s French Open. Both of them want to win the biggest clay court prize for a third consecutive year. Henin is looking for a fourth career title in Paris.

The Belgian will have her work cut out for her, as Juju will have to go through her two biggest challengers just to reach the final. First of all, Henin is scheduled to meet Australian Open champion Serena Williams in the quarters, whom she lost to in the final of Miami earlier this year. If she takes out Serena, Jelena Jankovic will be waiting in the semi’s.

I have seen Henin play on clay several times this year and I don’t feel she is as dominant as she was last year. She could have lost to Jankovic in the semi-finals of Warsaw, a tournament Henin won, and she should have lost to that same Jankovic in Berlin, when the Serbian was leading 4-0 in the third set but failed to close out the match. Henin fell to Kuznetsova in the semi-finals of the Tier I event.

Because of this, I am going for Serena Williams to take her out in the quarterfinals. There is no better fighter out there than Serena and I believe she has genuinely set her mind to performing well in Paris. Not to forget that Serena has already beaten Henin earlier this year, albeit on a hard court. 

Semi-final pick: Serena Williams
Second QuarterMoving on to the second section of the draw. Here we have the in-form Jelena Jankovic, who just can’t seem to stop playing these days. Exactly one year ago, before the tournament in Rome, she was on the verge of retiring from the sport, when she couldn’t get past a first round in nine straight events. A year later, she won the Tier I event and moved up to number four in the world.Moving on to the second section of the draw. Here we have the in-form Jelena Jankovic, who just can’t seem to stop playing these days. Exactly one year ago, before the tournament in Rome, she was on the verge of retiring from the sport, when she couldn’t get past a first round in nine straight events. A year later, she won the Tier I event and moved up to number four in the world.However, Jankovic has apparantly not learned from what happened to her in Australia earlier this year. During the Australian circuit, Jankovic was performing so well, that she reached the final of back-to-back events in Auckland and Sydney. She had played 10 matches in two weeks time, right before the Australian Open. Jankovic would have been a real contender, had she been a hundred percent fit during the first major of the year. The amount of matches played before heading to Melbourne got to her, and she was an easy prey for Serena Williams in the fourth round.

Now, Jankovic had reached the semi-finals in Warsaw and the quarterfinals in Berlin – played over two days due to rain delays – before she won the tournament in Rome. All in back-to-back-to-back weeks. What would any person do the next week, just seven days before the start of a Grand Slam event? Exactly, pull out of the next event and rest up.

Jelena Jankovic though, is not any person. She decides to play the tiny warm-up event of Strasbourg, makes the semi-finals and then pulls out.

If Jankovic were to make the semi-final or final of Roland Garros, she would have played for six straight weeks. Don’t tell me this isn’t going to affect your physical condition.

Still, despite a tough draw with Venus Williams in the third round, Elena Dementieva in the fourth and Nadia Petrova or Nicole Vaidisova in the quarters, I’m going with J.J. in this section.

Semi-final pick: Jelena Jankovic

Third Quarter

Ana Ivanovic captured the Tier I title in Berlin earlier this month and should have a fairly comfortable road to the quarterfinals here in Paris. So should Svetlana Kuznetsova, whom Ivanovic beat in the Berlin final. The Russian’s only threat comes in Shahar Peer, a likely opponent in the round of 16.

Kuznetsova, a finalist to Henin in last year’s edition, could meet Anastasia Myskina in the second round, should the 2004 Roland Garros champion win her first encounter after a long injury lay-off. Myskina hasn’t played a match since January, when she lost a first rounder against Gisela Dulko in Auckland. The Russian faces a tough opener against Meghann Shaughnessy.

Kuznetsova should have no problems with Myskina should the two Russians meet, but I don’t think the No.3 seed will advance past the quarterfinals. Ivanovic beat Kuznetsova in a third set tiebreaker in Berlin and I think the Serbian will once again prevail.

Semi-final pick: Ana Ivanovic

Fourth Quarter

Maria Sharapova and Amelie Mauresmo are the two highest seeds of the bottom quarter. Still, I don’t see either of them making the quarterfinals. Mauresmo will likely face Lucie Safarova in the third round. The Frenchwoman lost to the 25th seed at the Australian Open and I don’t think things will turn out any different in Paris. Mauresmo is in the Strasbourg final this week, but even if she wins the title of the small Tier III event on Saturday, the current No.5 still hasn’t had much of a preparation on clay.

But the player to watch for in this fourth quarter is not Safarova, but a woman from Switzerland. With Martina Hingis sidelined due to injury, Patty Schnyder will be the Swiss hope on the women’s side. Just once has the 28-year-old veteran from Basel made the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, which was in 2004, when Schnyder reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and lost to Kim Clijsters. At Roland Garros, a quarterfinal appearance dating back to 1998 is her best result.

This year though, I think good old Patty could go one step further. She reached the quarterfinals at the Tier I in Berlin, and bested Serena Williams in Rome en route to the semi-finals, where she lost to tournament winner Jelena Jankovic. Schnyder has a tough third round opponent in Alona Bondarenko, a finalist in Warsaw a few weeks ago, but if she gets past that hurdle, I don’t see a Maria Sharapova without match practice stopping her on clay in the round of 16.

Semi-final pick: Patty Schnyder

Serena Williams – Jankovic

I would have honestly picked Jankovic to win this match and the title, because I think she can hit with Serena but moves better on the clay, giving her the edge. However, considering her tough draw in Paris, I fear she will be drained again just like in Australia once she gets to face Serena, falling short of a career first Grand Slam final.

Pick: Serena Williams

Ivanovic – Schnyder

Another Berlin duel going on a replay. Both women have never progressed to a final of a Grand Slam, but Patty Schnyder is the more experienced of the two. Still, I believe this will be a breakthrough event for Ivanovic, beating her compatriot Jelena Jankovic in becoming the first woman from Serbia to do battle for a Grand Slam title.

Pick: Ivanovic

Serena Williams – Ivanovic 

Serena Williams in a Grand Slam final against an inexperienced opponent. Would you honestly bet against her on this one? Neither would I.
Champion: Serena Williams

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19 Comments for Roland Garros Preview – Les Femmes

gambit Says:

Henin is far better than Serena in every aspect and she’s gonna prove that…

I agree with Jankovic case though… She must be nuts to have participated in Strasbourg…God knows what the heck she was thinking

Michael Says:

Jankovic will be in final and new champion. My opinion is that she has game talent and desire. Serena power is not match for Jelena speed on clay. I do not even believe that Serena is able to reach final.

zola Says:

I love your picks….

its a pitty Serena and Justin won’t play the final together. I still think Mauresmo can be a force in the 4th Q and maybe the final?

ja_obryab Says:

Abe, you are a genius. Everyone else has written Serena off, again, but I really think she will beat Justine and advance to the semis where she wil play sister, Venus. She will beat her and play Mauresmo in the finals. Yes, Mauresmo will advance to the Finals of Roland Garros. That will be very dramatic.

Abe Kuijl Says:

If Mauresmo were ever to reach the final in Paris, this would be a great opportunity, but I think she needs matches against top players to get in form. This is exactly what she lacks. Add to that the added pressure of competing for the home crowd and I think Momo will suffer from an early exit to a quality player like Safarova. Even if she beats her, there’s still Chakvetadze to take her out in the fourth round, although Anna C. hasn’t shown much lately, either.

Richard Says:

I don’t know about Serena getting past Henin on clay. I don’t like Ivanovic’s chances over Kuzy either. I agree with Jankovic and surprisingly, Schnyder. Just a month ago everyone would’ve given Patty the early exit prediction, but now she’s on nearly everyone’s semifinal pick, due to the erratic Sharapova. I think it’s going to be Jankovic vs. Kuzy in the finals, with Jankovic winning. If she can beat Henin in the SF’s, that is.

I see Mauresmo going down against Lucie again, and Venus will not beat JJ. No way. I also want an upset pick made against Sharapova in the first round, so Loit will take her place.

atptour03 Says:

I don’t think we can be so quick to sleep on Venus or Serena just yet. As we have always seen from these two, just when we are ready to count them out, they emerge to the top. This years Roland Garros will be the most interesting in years.

JCF Says:

Jankovic’s losses to Clijsters in Sydney this year and Serena in Melbourne were both mental. She had them beat, but blew it. Her loss to JHH (or JH now?) was also mental.

Giner Says:

Abe, I’m going to guess that you’ve got your money on Serena winning the Calendar Grand Slam?

Abe Kuijl Says:

Giner, Serena is capable of winning the calender Grand Slam, but I think we’ll have to take it tournament by tournament when it comes to her. We all know how up and down her fitness can be.

Giner Says:

Sorry, but I can’t see Jankovic beating Henin. Henin is not only more experienced, but far tougher mentally. Winning a few warmup titles is a nice boost to your confidence, but JH is a multiple grand slam winner, and that should count for something. The two just don’t compare. JH made it to the finals of all 4 slams last year. She can make more finals easily.

TenFan Says:

I don’t get it either. You are picking against Henin because of some matches she won that she should have lost according to you, but you can say the same thing about serena, can’t you? Didn’t Petrova and Henin both serve for the match against her? (petrova in australia, and Henin in that miami final, who both would have won in what would have seemed like routine matches if serena hadn’t come storming back in both occasions). So how is that different than the matches Henin won from behind this year?
So then when Serena comes from behind its cause she’s a tough fighter and when Henin comes from behind it shows lack of form?

Giner Says:


Henin has won a LOT of matches that she should have lost from being behind a huge deficit in the 3rd set, or even 2nd set. She just doesn’t go away. Many of those matches came here in Paris as a matter of fact. Such as against Kuznetsova 2 years ago, who had a few match points.

Abe Kuijl Says:

I am not denying Henin is a great fighter. She definitely is and, like Serena, it has won her a lot of matches.

Still, I think Serena is in a league of her own when it comes to fighting her way past opponents. With the win against Justine in Miami in the back of her mind, I believe her determination will see her take out Henin in the quarters. If not, Justine will win the three-peat.

John Says:

My picks:

Top Quarter: Williams over Henin
Second Quarter: Dementieva over Vaidisova
Third Quarter: Kuznetsova over Ivanovic
Bottom Quarter: Schnyder over Safarova

Top Semi: Dementieva over Williams
Bottom Semi: Schnyder over Kuznetsova

Final: Dementieva over Schnyder

dennis knows all Says:

Well its hard to face facts but you better face them. Patty schnyder falls to pieces in big matches. Ana ivanovic is far too in excperienced but will beat nicole vaidisova. Jelena jankovich cannot win a major until she is mentally strong enough which will be soon but not yet. Venus will never win roland garros like sharapova. i mean look at lindsay davenport and martina hingis who won’t ever win another major because the younger players hit the ball too the winner of roland garros will be determined by a semi-final match up between henin and serena as much as want to see one of the serbians win the title its unlikely.i think though henin might get her way after serena falling to schnyder earlier this year. i mean schnyder in a grand slam final your all crazy all though i do feel for elena dementieva she deserves a slam all thos opportunites and myskina won’t even commit herself to the game well hantuchova will never win a slam kuznetsova will because she is committed and petrova won’t coz she’s outplayed on all surfaces except clay and at roland garros where she falls i would like to see dementieva win but would put my money on serena after she gets to the 4th round

John Says:

My guess:

Serena’s path:

Pironkova (done 57,61,61)

Elena’s path:

Kerber (done 63,62)
Johansson (done 75,75)

Patty’s path:

Sucha (done 26,61,62)
K. Bonderenko
A. Bonderenko

Rhodner Orisma Says:

It is to wait what can happen. During this Open (Roland Garros), it is to notice that every top player performs well. Henin, Maria and Serena have the same chance to win this tournament. However, Serena can make a surprise as she did in Australia and Key Biscayne in January and March (2007) respectively. In one hand, Henin is already under control since Maria may want to meet Serena and take care of an “old affair” that came up after she lost 1-6, 1-6 to Serena at Key Biscayne. In the other hand, Serena who does not expect to miss this rendez-vous must beat Henin. Just wait!!!

Johnny Says:

I think most women in tennis (the Williams sisters, Henin Hardenn, and many many more) look a lot like men due to their physical shapes and power, which makes me not enjoy the game of tennis. However the young and innexperienced players such as most of the young russian girls (Kuznetsova excluded) and serbian girls don’t look like men and that is the reason why people watch tenis so shut the fuck up.

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