Saturday, June 23, 2012

Some players to watch at Wimbledon

There is little (next to none) chance that any of these players will win the 2012 Wimbledon tournament, but each of them, in her own way, can cause problems for her higher-ranked peers:

Melanie Oudin
Oudin made it to the round of 16 in 2009, right before her huge run at the U.S. Open. She took a very big tumble in the next couple of years, and many counted her completely out, but--hello!--she just won in Birmingham. Oudin likes the grass. She is likely to meet UNICEF Open champion Nadia Petrova in the second round.

Ekaterina Makarova
Makarova likes the grass, too, and is a former Eastbourne champion. She is likely, however, to face Angelique Kerber in the second round.

Dominika Cibulkova
Cibulkova is (quietly) seeded number 13 and little is said about her. And while it's true that we can expect more of her on clay and hard courts, she is never to be under-estimated. She can be streaky, though, and her first opponent is Klara Zakopalova--not a dream first-round draw for anyone.

Svetlana Kuznetsova
Because sometimes, she actually remembers Who She Is.

Francesca Schiavone
The Queen of Thrills--who recently saved seven match points and won a tiebreak in Den Bosch after being down 0-6--seems to always have at least one more thrill left in her. Schiavone opens against young Brit not-yet-star Laura Robson. The Italian, known as a clay player (she won the French Open in 2010) has gotten as far as the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

Sloane Stephens
Just because.

Kim Clijsters
Remember Kim Clijsters? She's back again--sort of. She withdrew from the semifinals at the UNICEF Open, however, giving her opponent a walkover.

Urszula Radwanska
Clijsters' lucky UNICEF Open opponent, is looking like someone to watch on grass. She gets Marina Erakovic in the first round, though, and Erakovic tends to show her best tennis on grass courts.

Tamira Paszek
Paszek just won Eastbourne, though prior to taking that trip to England, she had won only two matches the entire season. She's having some problems with one of her ankles, which could be helpful to first-round opponent Caroline Woznaicki. Or not. Unless Paszek caves from injury and/or exhaustion (and this is quite possible) this could be a must-see match.

Christina McHale
McHale seems to thrive on pulling off upsets, and she may have to pull off a big one if she expects to stick around.

Petra Cetkovska
The "other Petra." She made a big run last year and is worth taking a look at.

Tsvetana Pironkova
Pironkova has been dealing with a back injury, so she  may not be in good shape to take on her customary Wimbledon giant-killing tasks. And even if she's completely healthy, she faces a very, very tough task in the second round (if all goes as planned)--she gets world number 1 Maria Sharapova.

Maria Kirilenko
She's streaky, but she can do damage.

Sabine Lisicki: Last year, she took a wild card all the way to the semifinals. I wouldn't expect that kind of run this year, but with Lisicki, you just never know.

Here are some first-round matches worth following, though you probably won't get to watch many of them:

Kim Clijsters vs. Jelena Jankovic: How could it happen?! Clijsters is unseeded, that's how. And though I'm reluctant to quote someone whose absence from the airwaves I consider good news.....if Dick Enberg were around, I know he would say "Oh, my."

Lucie Hradecka vs. Angelique Kerber: Hradecka is a big server. If Kerber's serve goes off the way it did in the Eastbourne final, she could have a bit of a challenge.

Tamarine Tanasugarn vs. Anna Tatishvili: This may not sound too interesting, but this could be (or not) Tanasugarn's last Wimbledon. Back in the day, she made some really good runs at the All England Club.

Dominika Cibulkova vs. Klara Zakopalova: Zakopalova, who always seems to have more potential, has been doing rather well lately. She made it to the semifinals in Eastbourne this past week.

Laura Robson vs. Francesca Schiavone: The crowd will be cheering Robson on like crazy, but can she use her big lefty serve to out-maneuver one of the tour's greatest fighters? 

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Tamira Paszek: See above.

Ana Ivanovic vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez: Might be fun to watch.


Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm... so an unseeded Nalbandian gets a show court placement (Court 1) on Day 1 against a #8 seed. Does this mean that the bar has been "raised" for what it now takes to get scheduled on a good court in the early rounds at Wimbledon?

Diane said...

As we speak, someone is revving up JJ's old helicopter, probably for Serena or Kim.