Wimbledon - A Dreadful Imbalance in The Women’s Draw

2010 Wimbledon Championships
By Hiland Doolittle, June 18th, 2010
Maria Sharapova at Aegon Championships 2010 - Blowing Kiss

Maria Sharapova at Aegon Championships 2010 - Blowing Kiss

Not only does the Women’s Draw at Wimbledon smack of political discrimination, but it also smacks of amazing arrogance that will take much of the appeal out of the oldest tennis tournament in the world.  Congratulations to the organizational committee for helping Venus and Serena Williams reach another finals.  The powers that be must see this as the ideal pairing to help a struggling economy.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Somehow we expect more from the game’s oldest and most traditional tournament but every year the oldest tournament looks more and more like the least courageous.  As the draw stands, the best women’s tennis will be played in the non-Williams sister’s quarterfinal brackets.

So strong are these two brackets that if either Williams sister were placed here, it is doubtful they would escape the round of sixteen.  Meanwhile, it is safe to say that if any of three of the players in Jankovic’s bracket were in either of the Williams sister’s place, they would cruise to the semifinals.

Apparently, the Brits can stack the draw any way they see fit.  The end must justify the means at Wimbledon.

For example, consider the 4th seeded Jankovic bracket.  By a strange organizational coincidence, the top four Belgian players are all in this one bracket.  How is that for geographic distribution?

The 8th seeded Clijsters, winner of last year’s U.S Open, a semifinalist the last time she played here and a former world number one will face her country-mate and long time rival 17th seed Justine Henin in the round of sixteen.  Henin is a seven-time Grand Slam Champion, was also was a semifinalist the last time she played at Wimbledon.  Of course, she is a former world number one as well.

Henin and Clijsters have won more than nine hundred, that is correct, more than nine hundred singles matches on tour!  900 wins!  Sounds like a nice round of sixteen pairing doesn’t it?

If Kristen Flipkens, the fourth best Belgian can escape a first round win against Melanie Oudin, she will most likely earn the right to play 15th seed power hitter and strong grass court contender Yanina Wickmayer in the second round!

The bookmakers, who generally have a very good feel for these things, have Clijsters as the second favorite, tied with Venus Williams at 7/1.  Henin is the third favorite at 8/1.  Jankovic is 33/1.  Wickmayer is 66/1.

The most highly regarded possible opponent in the Venus Williams bracket is the dormant, yet to be heard from this season, Dinara Safina at 66/1.  Bookmakers give Safina and one-time flame Francesca Schiavone the same odds.  Now that sounds like balance doesn’t it?

How about the 3rd seeded Caroline Wozniacki bracket?  Here is the other very strong bracket where players who have been performing well and winning are neatly tucked away to destroy each other before Serena ever has to be disturbed.  The ultimate prima donna and on-court bully should dial room service and watch these gals eliminate each other as she rests up for her final round match.
In Wozniacki’s quarter is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, Jie Zheng of China and then very serious contenders Victoria Azarenka, a finalist at the AEGON International this week, 10th seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy and French hotshot that nobody in their right mind wants to play, Aravane Rezai.  Now add 6tth seed Aussie Samantha Stosur, who can outserve anyone in the draw and you have a nice cluster.

Imagine that Rezai and Stosur will probably meet in the round of sixteen as will Wozniacki and Azarenka.  Wow!  Try this.  The bookmakers rate Stosur, Azarenka and Wozniacki at 20/1, all tied for fifth best.  Rezai is seventh at 40/1.  No, it is not a joke.  It has become Wimbledon.

Serena’s draw is more difficult than he sisters.  With any luck she will meet Sharapova in the round of sixteen.  With just a bit more luck, the resurgent Maria, seeded 16th at 10/1, just behind Henin, will take the prima donna down and out.  Of course, we will see the usual Serena temper tantrums, special treatment, some dazzling stalling techniques, limping, taping and training 911 calls that Serena considers her right and which make an upset unlikely, but we can hope, can we not?

Never thought I would say it, but grunt Maria, grunt!

Go Aravane, go Samantha, reach the finals and meet the Henin-Clijsters winner there.


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