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Petra Kvitova Proves When You’re Hot, You’re Hot in the Latest Women’s Power Ranking 12

Posted on October 31, 2011 by JA Allen

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic wins in Istanbul.

From the beginning, 2011 made its mark as the “Year of Injuries” for the top-ranked women in tennis.

Serena Williams, who cut her foot on broken glass after the 2010 Wimbledon Tournament, was out of tennis for most of the year.

Sister Venus Williams also suffered from illness and injury throughout 2011.

Kim Clijsters, who won the 2011 Australian Open over Li Na of China, sprained her ankle and never was able to compete fully after April of this year.

Justine Henin retired for the second and last time in January of 2011 after further injuring her elbow at the Australian Open. It was the same elbow she injured in a fall at Wimbledon in 2010.

For the most part the old guard was disappearing, it seemed, in the blink of an eye. That meant new champions would emerge.

Therefore, 2011 quickly evolved into the “Year of the Newcomers” in women’s tennis.

Li Na won the 2011 French Open, to claim her first major title.

Petra Kvitova, barely 21, won the 2011 Wimbledon title, defeating former champion Maria Sharapova in the final—even though the Williams sisters were competing once again.

Samantha Stosur finally won her first major at the US Open defeating Serena Williams in a brilliant display of tennis acumen and nerve.

The 2011 season culminated in Istanbul at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships where the elite eight women met to battle for the final title of the season.

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Petra Kvitova Captures Wimbledon: Tops the Women’s Tennis Power Ranking 7

Posted on July 08, 2011 by JA Allen

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic Wins Wimbledon

Who has not heard the news? A whole new era is afoot in women’s tennis.

Considering the players who captured headlines and the attention of tennis pundits during the second week of the 2011 Wimbledon Championships – you quickly surmised that the usual suspects were missing in action.

Gone was defending champion Serena Williams who had held the Rosewater Dish aloft four times, hoping that 2011 would bring her five.

Another Wimbledon win would tie Serena with her older sister Venus Williams who had won the All England Club Championship five times. Venus was also no longer in the house.

Absent, too, were French Open champion Li Na, who lost in the second round in a fierce contest as well as the No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki who failed again to make the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

No. 2 ranked Kim Clijsters never checked in for Championships, still sidelined with an ankle injury.

That left the field wide open for a newly invigorated Maria Sharapova, the wide-eyed power game of German Sabine Lisicki, the finely-honed game of Victoria Azarkena and the excellent grass-court assault of Petra Kvitova.  It was a worthy fortnight – an ultimate contrast in competence and mental fortitude.

The “Power Rankings” are compiled and presented by JA Allen, Marianne Bevis and Feng Rong using . We present the periodic rankings at least four times a year.

Following are the latest top ten in our women’s tennis power rankings as determined at the conclusion of the 2011 Wimbledon Championships in London.

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Maria Sharapova Looking to Rekindle Past Glory at Wimbledon 5

Posted on June 09, 2011 by Pete South

After reaching the French Open semifinals, Maria Sharapova will look to take the next step at Wimbledon.

This week Maria Sharapova chose to withdraw from the Aegon Classic tournament in Birmingham, a competition the Russian traditionally uses as her one and only warm-up event on grass before Wimbledon. Having recently lost to Li Na in the semi-final of the French Open, Sharapova has stated the reason for her withdrawal as being an unspecified illness –and given the regularity with which she normally takes part in the Eastbourne-based competition it would only be natural to worry for her wellbeing ahead of Wimbledon which is due to begin in just eleven days.

Maria Sharapova has played in Birmingham on the last seven occasions, winning the title twice and reaching the final on two other occasions, and as a result it is normally a fair representation of how the athlete is performing. But she is not the only major player to withdraw this week after Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli has also pulled out of the tournament through injury, leaving Estonian Kaia Kanepi as the top seed remaining in the event. Anyone planning on placing a Wimbledon bet 2011 will probably have to look elsewhere for form guides.

However, Sharapova has previous at Wimbledon – it was of course on the grass-courts of this competition where the Russian burst onto the international scene by taking apart Serena Williams five years ago. Now, provided that her illness is not too serious and that her injury fears are in the main behind her, she will have her eyes firmly set on a fourth Grand Slam title and a second Wimbledon crown, something the Wimbledon betting indicates she has every chance of doing. Read the rest of this entry →

Women’s Tennis Power Rankings: Li Na Takes the Top Spot After Winning in Paris 3

Posted on June 08, 2011 by Ronger Fengerer

Li Na wins the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in Paris

China is known for its domination in the sport of table-tennis, but in tennis it is a completely different story.

Indeed, tennis has long been dominated by players from Europe, America and Australia. While Asian players like Kimiko Date-Krumm (former world No. 4) and Paradorn Srichaphan (former world No. 9) were able to win a few titles and make some deep runs in Grand Slams, Asia has failed to produce one single major champion. Until now.

Li Na, from Wuhan China, became the first Asian player to reach a Grand Slam final at the 2011 Australian Open (l. to Kim Clijsters). And at the 2011 French Open, she went one-step further and became the first Grand Slam champion from her continent by defeating the defending champion from Italy, Francesca Schiavone.

Many claimed this year’s French Open the “most open” Grand Slam in recent years, and so it proved to be. None of the top four seeds were able to make it to the semifinals, and the “favorite” for the crown changed after each passing day. Not many predicted the final line-up of Li and Schiavone, even fewer picked the Chinese woman to win the title. But against all odds, Li conquered the Parisian clay and for ever etched her name in the annals of tennis.

It is hard enough to make it to a major final, and it is even harder to win it. Many players faltered at the last hurdle (one needs to look no further than the dropping out list below). To make it to two consecutive Grand Slam finals is no small feat. And to win the second final after losing the first one takes courage, dedication and enormous self-belief. To be a champion, you must have the heart of a champion.

This installment of our women’s power rankings is a tribute to the 2011 French Open Champion, Li Na from China. Her success will for sure serve as an inspiration to the next generation of young players from China and Asia.

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The Ten Greatest Players Never to Win the French Open 5

Posted on May 27, 2011 by JA Allen

The French Open is the only major played on clay.

Regarded by many players as the most difficult grand slam to win, the first French Open was held in 1891. But it was not until 1925 that the tournament moved to the grounds of Stade Roland Garros.

The French Open is the only major still played on clay.

Playing tennis on clay was once deemed a special art. Roland Garros became the arena for clay court specialists.

Even today’s players utilize a particular skill set to do well on the clay court surface––which not only slows down the ball but can produce a high bounce.

It takes great patience, but learning to play on clay also provides a good foundation for doing well on all surfaces.

Winning in Paris is essential to winning a grand slam. Very often, lack of success at Stade Roland Garros has kept many a player from winning that elusive fourth major.

Few players have won a grand slam––all four majors in a calendar year. For the men, there was Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969.

For the ladies, Maureen Connolly Brinker won in 1953, Margaret Court in 1970 and Steffi Graf in 1988. These three ladies all won calendar year grand slams.

Additionally, many players have won a career slam––winning at all venues during the course of a tennis player’s career.

The men who have won career slams are Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

For the ladies the career slam belongs to Maureen Connolly Brinker, Doris Hart, Shirley Fry Irvin, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.

Many great players have been stopped because they could not negotiate the clay.  Following are the top 10 players who could never find a way to win that elusive French Open title.

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Maria Sharapova Leads the Field in the Women’s Tennis Power Rankings 11

Posted on May 18, 2011 by JA Allen

Russian Maria Sharapova

As the 2011 French Open gets underway next week, the women’s field remains wide open.  There is no clear cut favorite for the title.

In fact, there has never been a true favorite heading into Paris since Justine Henin announced her first retirement from tennis in 2008.

The champions crowned in Henin’s absence have been great surprises––like Ana Ivanovic in 2008, Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2009 and Francesca Schiavone in 2010.

The good news for tennis fans is that Kim Clijsters will be returning to action in Paris with her ankle severely taped.  The Belgian, however, will not have the needed warm-up time on the clay to give her adequate preparation for a win in Paris.

In addition to the top 10 women listed in our power ranking, there are other players who merit our attention as we get ready to crown another French Open champion in 2011.  These “also to be watched” players are as follows:

Kim Clijsters can never be discounted at any major tournament regardless of her physical injuries.  As the winner of the last two slams at the 2011 Australia Open and at the 2010 U.S. Open, Clijsters will be looking to win this French Open crown. This remains a title that has eluded her in the past.

Svetlana Kuznetsova won the French Open title in 2009 and has the game to win the title again.  After her campaign in Marbella where the Russian made the semifinals, Kuznetsova has not fared well on the clay.  She will definitely be looking to improve on the grounds at Stade Roland Garros.

Ana Ivanovic has done nothing to suggest that she can win the French Open title again. Still, as a former champion, she has to be considered as a dark horse coming in because she knows exactly what it takes to win it all on clay.  Everyone hopes to see the Serbian beauty win in Paris, but the odds are not in her favor this year.

Andrea Petkovic is another of the surging German women who has been making a name for herself on the World stage in tennis.  Although Petkovic has not done well on the clay, she is a dangerous player with the potential to do well on any surface.

Our top 10 rankings are based on the four most recent tournament results and the WTA ranking points awarded.  The points are aged with the most recent receiving the most points. Following are the top 10 women poised to win at Roland Garros starting Monday in Paris.

JA Allen, Marianne Bevis and Ronger Fengerer write the Power Ranking series.

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