2012 Wimbledon Ladies Singles Preview
By Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
June 25-July 8, 2012
Prize Money: £16,060,000
The Great Grandmother of Grand Slams is upon us. Or should we call Wimbledon the Great Slam Mother? Or the Slam Mum? The latter one sounds too close to the title of Morrissey’s ill-advised ”Slum Mums“. Either way, if there’s one thing we know and love about grandmothers, it is their consistency. We don’t expect them to show up at Sunday dinner with a neck tattoo, a tongue-piercing or a 20-year-old boyfriend. On that note, we certainly don’t expect the Great Grandmother of Grand Slams to shock us, either. We don’t expect a world #50 to play in the ladies final. The All England Lawn Tennis Club boasts Petra Kvitova as its reigning champion, about the closest thing to octogenarian body-piercing that will ever come out of SW19.
First Round Matchups to Watch
Kim Clijsters v. Jelena Jankovic
JJ and Kim have met many times before, and Clijsters leads the series 7-1. She beat Jankovic in the Sydney final in 2007. JJ’s lone win against Kim was in Toronto in 2009. The big question is Clijsters’ ability to ramp back up after the layoff. In a close one, Jankovic’s recent tour experience could prove the difference.
Caroline Wozniacki v. Tamira Paszek
Tamira’s on a roll right now. The Eastbourne finalist has found very recent success, while Wozniacki was dumped in Eastbourne’s first round by Christina McHale. You will know right away if Wozniacki has come packing heat at Wimbledon by her success against Paszek. Expect Paszek to press her, but Wozniacki to win. The winner could face red-hot Alize Cornet in the second round.
Yanina Wickmayer v. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Wickmayer ended Kuznetsova’s Wimbledon bid last year in three sets in the Round of 32 when both women were ranked in the top 20. This year, only Kuznetsova is seeded, and she’s at #32. Though neither has played with consistency this year, this match is a true toss-up. The winner should be comfortably poised to at least the third round, as Greta Arn and Galina Voskoboeva are possible second round opponents.
Victoria Azarenka v. Irina Falconi
Another early test for a high seed, Azarenka will face one of my favorite Americans in the draw. Falconi is a Birmingham Quarterfinalist. Azarenka hasn’t had a lot of exposure to the grass since bowing out in the fourth round to Dominika Cibulkova at Roland Garros. A close match is expected.
Maria Sharapova starts against Anastasia Rodionova, who shouldn’t present a mammoth challenge. Her possible second round opponents could give her trouble, as qualifier Vesna Dolonc and Eastbourne quarterfinalist Tsvetana Pironkova have several impressive wins under their belt in the last week. After that, it could be smooth sailing. By seeding, she should face Sabine Lisicki in the Round of 16, although Lisicki’s consistency is very questionable at this time.
Those who would seek to face Sharapova in the Quarterfinals include Clijsters, Jankovic, Kerber, Zvonareva, and the currently dangerous upset duo of Ekaterina Makarova and Christina McHale. Clijsters will provide answers almost immediately as to her chances of hoisting a last trophy on the grass during her first round match against JJ. Zvonareva has turned over little evidence to suggest that she will make it far enough to face the winner of JJ and Clijsters.
Angelique Kerber will likely have to face one or two of the giant-slayers from Eastbourne. Ekaterina Makarova is a probable second round opponent, and McHale could be waiting for the winner in the third round.
In the bottom of the top half, #3 seed Aga Radwanska will face an early test, but not until the second round. Elena Vesnina and Venus Williams will vie for the right to be that test subject. After that, Aga could face Hantuchova and then Birmingham Champ Melanie Oudin or Nads Petrova in the Round of 16. An early stumble for Radwanska is very possible.
Those who seek to meet Radwanska in the Quarterfinal include Sam Stosur and Na Li. Those two players might have the easiest opening rounds of the draw and should be favorites to advance.
The top part of the bottom half is the “group of death” for the ladies at Wimbledon. With Serena at the top and Kvitova at the bottom, most would pencil them in for a quarterfinal meeting. The devil is in the details, though, and while Kvitova’s ability to repeat as champion is slightly uncertain, Serena’s ride is rocky. She should survive the first two rounds before a possible match up with the winner of Wozniak and Jie Zheng. Wozniak won that matchup against Zheng at Wimbledon. If Serena were to be successful there, she would be looking at a fight against either Roland Garros finalist Errani, RG quarterfinalist Shvedova or 19 seed Lucie Safarova.
To find the Round of 16, Kvitova will probably face Pavlyuchenkova. To make it to the quarters, she could be seeing Schiavone or Cibulkova.
In the final quarter of the draw, Wozniacki, Bartoli and Azarenka reign supreme. Perhaps this is the group of death after all. Wozniacki, as mentioned above, will face Paszek in the opener. A second rounder with Cornet is probable. Then would come Wickmayer/Kuznetsova. Marion Bartoli should be waiting for her next.
Azarenka has an easier ride than most. That opener against Falconi will say so much about her chances to reach the final.
Though the WTA has been known as “Winning Through Anarchy” of late, 2012 Wimbledon will likely shape up to be more predictable than recent slams. Sharapova has the draw she needs to win a second straight slam, and only Azarenka has the draw and perseverance to meet her in the final.
Dark Horse: Melanie Oudin
Though she’s had a few disappointing seasons, Oudin’s comeback is coming at the perfect time. After slogging through Birmingham to capture her first WTA title ever, she is poised to make a possible run to the quarterfinals. Her finest performance at Wimbledon to date was a 2009 4th round appearance. She should have as good a shot as anyone to beat Radwanska in a possible 4th round match up this year.
Sharapova d. Kerber
Stosur d. Oudin
Kvitova d. S. Williams
Azarenka d. Bartoli
Sharapova d. Stosur
Azarenka d. Kvitova
Sharapova d. Azarenka
There’s a little more wildcard drama than usual at this year’s Family Circle Cup, since it’s been rumored that Maria Sharapova and/or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki might very well take that last spot if they get the call.
Matt Sodo from ESPN explained the confusion a couple of weeks ago in his perfectly titled article ‘Star Security Backfiring on WTA?’.
The long and short of it is that Wozniacki may or may not be eligible, according to Sodo. But it’s very probable that she is hungrier for rankings points now than she has been in over a year. Sharapova, too, could use every point she can earn in the event of a sputter by Azarenka this year. Bartoli just gave her hope as the future President de la Republique handed Azarenka her first loss of the year tonight.
According to FamilyCircleCup.com, 45 players are pictured in their Qualifying Player Field Gallery, meaning that there could be up to three more entrants. Their Main Draw Gallery shows 55 players or spots (with 1 Wild Card and the 12 Qualifiers place-held), leaving possibly one extra wild card.
We reached out to the Family Circle Cup, but haven’t heard a word from them as of this posting.
Tennis East Coast is on the story and will drop our mustard-sauced barbeque sandwich, a South Carolina delicacy, as soon as news breaks. Let me remind you that my family soup contains West Virginia, Western North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana ingredients. So this ancestral Southerner awaits with great anticipation both the wild card announcements and a chance to see the Best Tennis Town in the USA up close and personal during the region’s biggest tennis event of the year.