Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 7: Women's 4th Round Preview/ Picks

For the last decade at Wimbledon it's been Venus Williams party. Sometimes she invites her sister Serena, but for the most part, the rest of the top women tennis players in the world have found themselves on the outside looking in.

Ana Ivanovic would like nothing more than to spoil Venus's party.

But she'll need some luck. With the way the former No. 1 from Serbia has played in 2009, it looks to be an uphill battle. Venus, a five time champion, and Ivanovic, who entered last years Wimbledon ranked No. 1 in the world, will highlight a heavy ticket that features all eight 4th round matches.

Here's a look at what's on tap:

1. Venus Williams vs. Ana Ivanovic:

Ana looked so bad in her first round match against Lucie Hradecka from Czechoslovakia, that many were predicting more doom and gloom for the emotional Serb. But somehow she found her game in time to score straight set wins over Sara Errani and Samantha Stosur.

But the most daunting challenge in women's tennis awaits her now, and the lack of confidence that she concealed in her last two matches will more than likely come back and bite her again on Centre Court.

Venus is riding a seventeen match winning streak here, and she is hell bent on becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf to win three consecutive titles. This would be a monumental win for Ivanovic if she could get it, but it just seems too far fetched given the turbulence that has permeated Ana's game since her French Open title in 2008.

Pick: Venus in 3

Dinara Safina vs. Amelie Mauresmo:

Poor Dinara, all dressed up in that No. 1 ranking with no place to go. The combative Russian has been zealously pursuing a title for over a year now, but nerves seems to catch up with her whenever she reaches a final.

Perhaps she'll benefit from the fact that all eyes are on Venus and Serena and make a sneaking mad dash for the crown? She's not known for her grass court expertise, but she is the world No. 1, and hasn't lost a set in the tournament.

To advance she'll have to face the 2006 Wimbledon Champion, Amelie Mauresmo, who at 29 is playing like she has nothing to lose. That's probably because she hasn't. She's already won Wimbledon, and nothing can take that away from her. If Safina gets a case of the yips look for Mauresmo to casually capitalize.

Pick: Safina in 3

Caroline Wozniaki vs. Sabine Lisicki:

19-year-old Sabine Lisicki is on a tear. 18-year-old Caroline Wozniacki is on a tear. Okay now, who is gonna tear who apart then? Good question.

The two teenagers have split their two meetings to date, with Lisicki winning their last meeting in straight sets in Charleston. But overall Wozniacki has been the better player in 2009. The great Dane has been steadily climbing up the rankings, and her grass court title in the Wimbledon tune-up at Eastbourne has given her confidence a boost.

Pick: Wozniacki in 2

Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Melanie Oudin:

What a difference a week makes. Melanie Oudin played her way into Wimbledon by winning three qualifier matches, and now she finds herself with a good shot to make the quarter finals.

Why? Because as good as Radwanska is, she doesn't have the tools to hammer the 17-year-old American like most of the other ladies in the draw.

Expect this to be a wild topsy-turvy affair, as Oudin has lost the first set and come back in all of her matches, and Radwanska is rolling second serves in at around 60 mph, hardly a recipe for domination.

pick: Radwanska in 3

Serena Williams vs. Daniela Hantuchova:

Hantuchova might have the edge in swimsuit modeling, but when it comes to the 4th round of slams it's all about Serena.

The Slovakian is 1-6 in her career against Serena, with one of those wins coming at the Australian Open in 2006. Hantuchova is only 21-15 on the year and has seen her ranking drop to 32.

Serena is searching for her 3rd career Wimbledon title, and is also dead set on making sure that her big sister Venus doesn't outdo her.

pick: Williams in 2

Victoria Azarenka vs. Nadia Petrova

Victoria Azarenka is still playing with the bitterness of bowing out in Roland Garros to Dinara Safina after taking the first set easily. She's the type of player that doesn't need to learn the same lesson twice. It's been a great year for Azarenka: She reached her first Slam quarter final and she has earned a spot in the WTA's top-10. Most players would be satisfied with that, at least for a little while.

Not Azarenka. The powerful and exceptionally quick and intense Belarusian seems to be the player on tour with the greatest fire in her belly.

Expect Azarenka to come out fast and furious, looking to avenge last years Wimbledon 3rd round defeat at the hands of none other than the cagey veteran Petrova.

Pick: Azarenka in 2

Elena Dementieva vs. Elena Vesnina:

In this battle of Elena's it is Dementieva who has the edge in experience. Dementieva made it all the way to the Wimbledon Semis just last year, and she has taken both career meetings against Vesnina, one of which came on grass.

The 22-year-old Vesnina scored a huge upset in taking out Dominika Cibulkova, but she is in uncharted waters now against the ever-dangerous Dementieva.

pick: Dementieva in 3

Virginie Razzano vs. Francesca Schiavone:

This is a gravy match because neither Schiavone or Razzano has ever been past the third round at Wimbledon, so it's all gravy from here.

Schiavone has won all three of their previous meetings so maybe it will be Razzano's turn on Monday.

Pick: Razzano in 3


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