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Australian Open 2011: Clijsters? Wozniacki? Who Will Win Down Under?

Posted on January 16, 2011 by JA Allen

Caroline Wozniacki is the new World No. 1 in womens tennis.

It is redundant to repeat that the women’s field in Melbourne is wide open.  This is because the 2010 defending Australian Open Champion Serena Williams is not competing,

The media has already taken a big bite out of the No. 1 seed, Caroline Wozniacki, finding her lacking in seasoning, flavor and a coup d’etat at any major.

Previously, the pundits did the same thing to Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina, hounding these ladies, driving them out of range of reaching that ranking again.

Wozniacki, however, is not quite as fragile or as susceptible to harsh, self-centered commentator remarks. Of course, the No. 1 seed wants to capture this title and will do everything in her power to win her first slam.

What everyone seems to overlook is that Wozniacki is 20 years old and her game is still evolving. Just as Nadal starting winning on one surface then improved his game to win on all surfaces over time––Wozniacki has not yet perfected her game.

The No. 1 seed is certainly not the favorite to win.  Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are.

Most feel Venus Williams has not played enough good tennis in preparation for the Australian Open to win. Maria Sharapova, they feel, is also not in top form and perhaps never will be again.

Many look at Samantha Stosur to break through at home and win her first major. That would, indeed, please the natives.

In order for Wozniacki to win, she would have to play perfect tennis for two weeks, serving well plus out-hustling any player standing across the net.  The question is––can Wozniacki do it?

Who Will Win the Women's Draw at the Australian Open?

  • Kim Clijsters (50%, 1 Votes)
  • Justine Henin (50%, 1 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Samantha Stosur (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Vera Zvonareva (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Someone else (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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The Russian Quarter: Vera Zvonareva, The No. 2 Seed

Russian Vera Zvonareva is the No. 2 seed in this year's Australian Open.

Russian Vera Zvonareva should enjoy smooth sailing in her section of the draw.

By far the weakest of the four quadrants, the No. 2 seed’s quarter may also generate the most surprises.

Zvonareva should be brimming with confidence having made the finals of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010––even though she lost both.

The Russian’s first seeded opponent appears in round three––No. 31 Lucie Safarova. The Czech was recently dismissed in the quarterfinals of Brisbane and should present few problems for in-form Zvonareva, fully fit and healthy again.

The interesting match up in this section of Zvonareva’s quarter may come in the third round when No. 16 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova meets fellow Russian No. 18 Maria Kirilenko.

They are two of the rising Russian tennis stars whose futures are yet to be determined but who have been making an impact on the women’s game of late.

One of them could take quite a step forward by winning this third round match.  Kirilenko and Pavlychenkova have met twice before, each winning once on hard courts.

It is obvious, however, that the teenager Pavlyuchenkova is just now realizing the extent of her potential.

Zvonareva will face one of these two fellow Russians in the fourth round.

The Russian Quarter: Samantha Stosur, The No. 5 Seed

No. 5 seed Australian Samantha Stosur is a home town favorite to win the title.

No. 5 seed Sam Stosur resides in the bottom half of Zvonareva’s quarter loaded with many players looking to upset Australia’s hope for a champion this year.

Stosur must get past Russian Vera Dushevina in the second round and Petra Kvitova the No. 25 seed in the third round, both potential stumbling blocks for the top-ranked Aussie.

Stosur dismissed Kvitova in the second round at the French Open in 2008. This year, however, the Czech took the title in Brisbane.

The Czech Kvitova previously made a name for herself by making the 2010 semifinals of Wimbledon where she gave Serena Williams quite a match for one set, losing 6-7, 2-6.

This match could prove to be a real opportunity for the ever-improving Kvitova.

Also in this section, the No. 10 seed Shahar Peer will have to battle Flavia Pennetta, seeded No. 22, in order to have a chance to meet Stosur in the fourth round.

Peer has won their last two meetings in 2010 defeating the Italian at Indian Wells and the U.S. Open. Prior to 2010, Pennetta had won their three previous matches, all on hard courts.

Expect Stosur to meet Peer in the fourth round and Zvonareva to meet Pavlyuchenkova.

Stosur survives early round upsets,  emerging out of in this quarterfinal.

The Belgian Quarter: Kim Clijsters, The No. 3 Seed

Belgian Kim Clijsters is the overall favorite to win the title.

Kim Clijsters who recently lost in the finals in Sydney to Na Li before heading to Melbourne, cannot be pleased to see that her opening round match at this year’s Australian Open is with former World No. 1, Dinara Safina.

Safina, who has been struggling for almost a year with recurring back injuries, is also very unhappy to draw Clijsters as her opening round opponent.  Such is the luck of the draw.

More than likely, Clijsters will defeat the struggling Russian but no one rises to be No. 1 without a great deal of talent and desire to win.

All tennis aficionados hope the Russian finds her way back to the top of the women’s game.

Also in this section seeking to make her way through the early rounds, Russian Nadia Petrova, seeded No. 13, must make her way past the No. 19 seed Ana Ivanovic in the third round.

Ivanovic has been improving her game steadily also trying to recapture her game and make her way back into the top ten.

Clijsters should find herself facing No. 26 seed Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez in the third round. Martinez-Sanchez who has better results on clay, has the game to defeat anybody––but it is doubtful she can take out the Belgian.

Expect to see Clijsters through to the fourth round where she will meet Nadia Petrova.

The Belgian Quarter: Jelena Jankovic, The No. 7 Seed

No one is giving Jelena Jankovic much of a shot of winning the Australian Open in 2011.

The opposition in the quarterfinals for Kim Clijsters could come from the No. 7 seed Jelena Jankovic.

The No. 7 seed, another former World No. 1, continues to struggle to regain the dominance she once enjoyed on the tennis courts.

At least, Jankovic finds herself consistently ranked in the top ten, giving her a better chance to find success.

At the Australian Open, the Serb, however, must get by No. 27 seed Alexandra Dulgheru who had a break out year in 2010.

Jankovic and Dulgheru would meet in the third round.

Also in this section of the draw, the No. 12 seed, Agnieszka Radwanska faces Kimiko Date-Krumm in her opening round match.

Should Radwanska survive that match and advance to the third round the Pole might meet the No. 24 seed Russian Alisa Kleybanova.

After winning in Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and reaching the finals in Bali, losing to a resurgent Ana Ivanovic, Kleybanova should be a real challenge to Radwanska.

There exists a real opportunity for a lower-ranked seed or unseeded player to come out of this section of the Clijsters quarter.

Fully expect Kim Clijsters, however,  to emerge a winner from her quarter of the draw.

The U.S. Quarter: Venus Williams, The No. 4 Seed

Venus Williams, now age 30, is looking to win at least one more in Melbourne

Venus Williams will meet No. 43 ranked Sara Errani, the little Italian, in the first round.

Errani and Williams have never met before on tour.  The chances are the Italian will pose few problems for Williams if the elder sister has been able to put aside her injuries, finding herself fit enough to sustain the early round rigors.

If Williams can hang on long enough, she may be able to play herself into form.

The first ranked player Williams could meet would be the No. 30 seed Andrea Petkovic.

The German reached the finals in Netherlands  ‘S-Hertogenbosch where she lost to Justine Henin and the fourth round of the U.S. Open where Petkovic lost to Vera Zvonareva.

The No. 30 seed could prove to be a real test for Williams.

Sitting also in Williams section of the quarter another former World No. 1 and Australian Open champion, No. 14 seed Maria Sharapova.

If the seedings hold, Williams would meet Sharapova in the fourth round.

But first Sharapova has a hurdle or two of her own to bounce over.

The Russian beauty must get past Kaia Kanepi, the No. 20 seed in the third round, should both players advance that far.

No doubt about it, Kanepi has all the weapons to bring down a shaky Sharapova.

The U.S. Quarter: Victoria Azarenka, The No. 8 Seed

The No. 8 seed Victoria Azarenka is looking fit and ready to meet all comers.

The bottom of the Williams quarter presents some intriguing match ups. It is, perhaps, the most difficult and most compelling section of the women’s draw

The No. 9 seed Na Li of China could meet French woman Aravane Rezai in the fourth round assuming both players make it through three tough rounds.

Na Li has won both times she met Rezai on grass in Birmingham in 2009 and 2010.

The lady from China also recently defeated Kim Clijsters in the final of the Medibank International Tournament in Sydney, giving Na Li a real boost coming into Melbourne. Li is a dangerous opponent on the hard courts.

It looks very likely that the No. 8 seed Victoria Azarenka will meet Na Li in the fourth round.

But first Azarenka will have to get by the No. 28 seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia in the third round.

That will not be easy. The two have met once on hard courts in San Diego with Hantuchova winning in three sets during the second round.

The last three times Azarenka participated in the Australian Open, she has been sent home by Serena Williams. In 2008, Williams defeated Azarenka in the third round, in 2009 in was the fourth round and in 2010, Azarenka made it to the quarterfinals.

This year, maybe, Azarenka will go all the way without Serena Williams blocking her path.

Although Na Li has recent victories, look for Azarenka to make it past the quarterfinals in 2011.

The Danish Quarter: Caroline Wozniacki, The No. 1 Seed

The No. 1 seed has her work cut out for her working her way through a tough draw in Melbourne.

This quarter is loaded, to put it mildly.

Wozniacki’s first opponent could be a real test for the Dane, although she has not played Gisela Dulko since 2008.

The two met three times that year with Wozniacki winning their two hard-court matches at the Australian Open and the Japan Open in Tokyo. Dulko won on clay in Berlin.

So far in 2011, Wozniacki has lost two exhibition matches to Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva earlier this year––which is forgivable.

But then the Dane lost to No. 32 ranked Dominika Cibulkova in the second round at Sydney as the No. 1 seed.

Still Wozniacki says she remains confident as she heads into Melbourne. But you have to wonder coming into the Australian Open seeded No. 1 without Serena Williams in the draw––if the pressure is not getting to the 20-year old.

No doubt, Wozniacki will take care of Dulko, although the Argentine likes to take down top seeds. Dulko can be a handful when she is playing her best.

Should the Dane survive, awaiting her in the third round could be the same Slovakian Cibulkova who defeated her in Sydney.

In the fourth round the Dane might find herself facing the No. 15 seed Marion Bartoli or the No. 21 seed Yanina Wickmayer also very capable of upsetting the Dane.

The real issue for the No. 1 seed is later down the road when Wozniacki meets her potential quarterfinal opponent––one of the many talented players advancing through the bottom of Wozniacki’s quarter.

The Danish Quarter: Francesca Schiavone, The No. 6 Seed

French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone hopes to add an Aussie trophy to her mantle.

The No. 11 seed Justine Henin as well as the No. 6 seed Francesca Schiavone will be battling it out to get to the quarterfinals.

Schiavone, of course, is the 2010 French Open champion. The Italian has enjoyed a real resurgence since her break through in Paris.

Henin, who has been injured much of 2010 after her fall at 2010 Wimbledon, is hoping for a repeat of last year’s Australian Open when the Belgian made the finals where she lost to eventual champion, Serena Williams.

Henin, moreover, could meet former French and U.S. Open champion, No. 23 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round.

The Russian is trying to work her way back into the women’s top ten after suffering from poorer than normal results for the past year.

Schiavone, on the other hand, might meet the No. 32 seed Tsvetana Pironkova from Bulgaria in the third round.

The two have met three times in the past and Schiavone leads their head to head 3-0, winning once on grass in 2006 and twice on hard courts in 2007 and 2009.

The tall Pironkova, however, was impressive defeating Venus Williams in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2010, making it to the semifinals where she lost to Vera Zvonareva.

The Bulgarian has definitely improved her ranking and her game.  She will not be the same player Schiavone met in 2009.

You have to like Henin making it through to meet Wozniacki in the quarterfinals with Henin emerging as the quarterfinal winner.

2011 Ladies Australian Open Semfinals and Finals

Will an Aussie win the title in 2011?

While this might be an excellent chance for Wozniacki to win her first slam trophy, it also offers the best opportunity for several other players seeking to win this Australian Open Championship.

More players seem to handle hard courts better than clay or grass surfaces.

Wozniacki has worked very hard to reach the rank of the No. 1 player of the world, improving her overall game, serve and court coverage.

In 2008 Wozniacki made to fourth round of the Australian Open losing to Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 7-6. In 2009 the Dane lost to Jelena Dokic 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.  Last year, in 2010, Wozniacki made it again to the fourth round where she lost to Na Li of China 6-4, 6-3.

It would be wonderful, but this will not be her year.

Australian Open Semifinals:

Clijsters vs. Stosur

Azarenka vs. Henin

Finals:

Stosur vs. Henin

Winner:

Samantha Stosur


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