Womens US Open Preview

With Justine Henin pulling out and Serena Williams facing a race against time to be fit, Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters will go into the US Open as two of the favourites. Sharapova has struggled to reach her best form after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2008, however there were signs at Wimbledon that she was returning to some of her best form with her serve in particular looking much more solid. Winning 3 grand slams has shown that Sharapova has the mentality to win big tournaments and this will help her believe she has what it takes to return to very top of the game once again. Kim Clijsters did well to reach the Quarter-finals at Wimbledon however she will feel that she missed a golden chance of reaching her first Wimbledon final. Kim will have to improve her consistency if she is to challenge at the US Open; however returning to the place where she had that magical run to the title last year will no doubt work in her favour. Venus Williams is always a name mentioned before a Grand Slam however many people have doubted her ability to win another one especially after her shock loss to Tsvetana Pironkova at Wimbledon. She has also failed to progress past the Quarter-final stage at her last 5 majors so the US Open and the lead up tournaments will be extremely important for Venus to prove she still has what it takes to perform at the big stage.

The likes of Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva remain contenders despite never winning a grand slam. Jankovic has shown a return to form this year scooping the title of Indian Wells and reaching the semis of Roland Garros; however an inability to perform at the key stages of tournaments remains a big stumbling block for Jankovic. Dementieva went into the Australian Open as one of the favourites after winning the Sydney title; however she met Justine Henin in the 2nd round and was once again left disappointed at a major. She was then forced to retire in the Semi-final of Roland Garros against eventual champion Francesca Schiavone. She missed Wimbledon through injury so will need to get some matches under her belt if she is to mount a serious challenge at the US Open. Two more names who will look to progress deep into the draw at the US are Sam Stosur and Na Li. With one of the best serves on the WTA tour, solid groundstrokes and a much improved mental game, Stosur is now seen as a real threat on the Womens tour and will look to put the disappointment of her 1st round exit at Wimbledon behind her. Na Li will look to build on some strong performances at grand slams this year. Wins over Venus William, Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova this year have demonstrated she can beat the very best in the women’s game.

Some of the hot prospects on the tour such as Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska have all faded over recent months. Wozniacki, in particular looked devoid of ideas against a sensational Kvitova at Wimbledon and it remains to be seen whether she has used this break from competition effectively to improve her game, in particular introduce some variety. The likes of Dinara Safina, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic will also look to regain form after major slumps this year. With lower rankings, it could pave the way for some exciting early match-ups at this year’s US Open.

After a quiet three weeks on tour for higher ranked players, the likes of Agnes Szavay and Kaia Kanepi have been performing well on the red clay and will look to use this new found confidence going into the summer hard court season. Other names to look out for include Yanina Wickmayer, who reached the Semi-final of the US Open last year and Alisa Kleybanova who is a dangerous player and has the groundstrokes to overpower anyone however the lack of consistency in her game continues to thwart her. Aravane Rezai has had a superb clay court season and will look to cement her place in the top 20 further. We are also waiting for the real breakthrough of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who has shown promise in the last couple of years but is yet to make a major run at a grand slam. This is unlike Petra Kvitova who broke through to the Semi-finals of Wimbledon and will want to build on this to prove she has what it takes to be more than a one hit wonder and a big name in the future of women’s tennis.

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