WTA Championships Preview

by Abe Kuijl | November 5th, 2007, 4:34 pm

In 2006, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo and Maria Sharapova were all considered favorites to win the year-end Sony Ericsson WTA Championships. Kim Clijsters was in the mix too. This year however, the tour’s grand finale has all the makings of a one-woman show. Henin has gone undefeated after her shocking Wimbledon loss to Marion Bartoli and is now riding a 20-match winning streak. ADHEREL
Henin’s foremost challenger for the title in Madrid, Serena Williams, has gone down to the Belgian in their last three encounters and failed to impress during the European indoor fall circuit. In fact, if there was one player in this field worth mentioning other than Henin it would have to be Daniela Hantuchova, who clinched her Championships berth on the last minute by winning Linz. All the other players, Kuznetsova (up and down), Jankovic (drained), Sharapova (Shoulderpova?), Ivanovic (erratic), Chakvetadze (severe slump) and the before-mentioned Serena Williams are far from playing their best.

Henin finds herself in the yellow group, not surprisingly accompanied by Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic. The poor little Anna Chakvetadze completes the group, and gets the priviledge of opening the tournament against Henin on Tuesday. I’m sure the Russian is very much looking forward to that match.

That leaves Kuznetsova, Ivanovic, Sharapova and Hantuchova for the red group. Kuzy and Ivanovic will be favored to advance here, as Sharapova only played one match after the US Open, and might easily drop out after her first match. Hantuchova will be riding the momentum of her Linz performance, and should have a decent shot at upending Sharapova, but I am sticking with the top two seeds in the group to pull through.

Semifinalists: Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova

In the Justine group, I am taking Serena over J.J. to come through as No. 2. By the way, Chakvetadze holds a 5-2 record over Jankovic, but since the Russian seems to have lost all confidence in her abilities, I am liking the fatigued Jankovic to narrow their head-to-head record.

Semifinalists: Justine Henin, Serena Williams

I believe Ivanovic will do well in Madrid, and win her group to face Serena in the semis. Henin will take on Kuznetsova again, and just as in the US Open final, the Belgian should cruise.

Over the past few weeks, Serena lost to Kuznetsova in Stuttgart and fell in the Moscow final to Elena Dementieva. Therefore, Ivanovic should have a decent shot at upending Williams this week. However, this is a prestigious tournament and normally Serena finds an extra gear at those big events. How hard it may be to predict how Serena will perform in any tournament, that perception is an important factor to consider. Therefore, my money will be on Serena for this one.

Finalists: Justine Henin, Serena Williams

We all know what kind of runs Serena can come up with, so in a way I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes on to win the event, but there’s no way one can bet against Henin these days.

Champion: Justine Henin

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15 Comments for WTA Championships Preview

Hako Says:

To quote Justine’s oft used pre-match comment ” The best will win, and we will see”.

Chico Says:

So why exactly are Kuznetsova and Ivanovic favoured before Hantuchova? Hantuchova can beat Kuznetsova who is very inconsistent and choked a big lead against Ivanovic earlier this year, who happens to be out of form now. Hatuchova if anything, is the form player of the moment.

My picks are-
Ivanovic and Hantuchova

Henin and Williams

Abe Kuijl Says:

Chico, although Hantuchova is, as you said, the form player of the moment, I rate Kuznetsova’s game higher.

Giner Says:

Hoho Abe. Your opinion has changed on Serena’s invulnerability since Wimbledon. I think you picked her to beat Justine 3 times this year and lost. Finally you succumb to reality. Justine is just better.

Leo Says:

Wow. Abe finally picking Justine to beat Serena. I think he is going to jinx her.

Giner Says:

Abe’s had a Serena fetish ever since she showed up overweight to defend her AO title. All power works very well in the women’s game, but it’s not everything. I can’t wait till the semis.

Abe Kuijl Says:

Actually Giner, the first time Henin and Serena played this year in Miami, I picked Henin to win. Let’s say how wrong I’ll be this time.

andrea Says:

who’s got the funk/who’s in the trunk needs to look at the facts before boldly stating something.

with an even 8-8 bteween them, nalbandian hardly owns federer.

you can argue the owing position between nalbandian and nadal given the 0-2 between them, but 2 matches does not an owner make, me thinks…..

jane Says:

i’d like to think jancovic will do even better next year. she came close against justine in toronto. she’s got amazing defence. she just needs to be more consistent and needs to improve her attacking to shorten up points. if she does, if…, she should be a serious opponent for justine the great next year.

but justine will still be the queen at the end of this one.

jane Says:

From Tennis X trunk / funk:
“World No. 1 Justine Henin says she might pull because Beijing is so polluted it makes her asthma flare up — not great PR for the event/city.”

Maybe it’s not great PR for the event/city; however, it’s true. The pollution in China is horrendous. And it’s good PR regarding the set backs of global warming. Sorry to digress from tennis, but…

rogers twin sister Says:

Abe: There goes your prediction final of Henin-Williams.

John (1) Says:

Bartoli replaced Serena just in time for a double bagel from Justine.

Giner Says:

(1) Justine Henin (BEL) d. (A) Marion Bartoli (FRA) 60 60

LOL. Talk about revenge. This happening at the Year End Championships which only the top 8 performers in the year can qualify for. That is something you don’t see often.

John (1) Says:

In Bartoli’s defense:

1) Bartoli was notified around midnight that she would replace Serena. Not much prep time.

2) Justine already played two matches (Chakvetadze and Jankovic).

3) Bartoli’s second match against Jankovic, was 6-1, 1-0 (retired).

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