Serena is Number One

Australian Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, January 3rd, 2010

Dinara Safina was the top seed for all four Grand Slam events in 2009. Nobody was buying it. In fact, not many players or fans are convinced Dinara deserves to be seeded second heading to Melbourne. Serena Williams was and still is the best female tennis player and competitor on the planet.

Despite Serena’s meltdown at the U.S. Open, she seems ready to strut her stuff again in 2010. As the top seed, it will be difficult to unseat the fiery Australian Open and Wimbledon champion. With 11 Grand Slam Championships, Serena knows the taste of success and intends to savor it even more in 2010.

After being reprimanded for her antics at the Open, Serena Williams has something to prove as she sets out to repair her slightly tainted image. That spells trouble for the rest of the women’s field.

Serena earned a nifty $5.5 million in 2009 and teamed with sister Venus to capture three of the four women’s Grand Slam doubles titles. That’s a career for most players, but not for Serena. While we expect the feisty Williams to have a big year, we suspect an upset looms in Australia, where either Elena Dementieva, Kim Clijsters or Victoria Azarenka appear poised to make a run at the game’s foremost talent.

With a 50 – 12 singles record in 2009, a number one singles ranking and a number three doubles ranking, Serena could well top her earnings from last year. Her startling Grand Slam record parallels her ability to stay focused for the two-week major tournaments. Serena comes to win and if another player wants the trophy, they had better be prepared for a battle.

Svetlana Kuznetsova Explodes in Second Half

Blond Russian 24-year old, Svetlana Kuznetsova stormed to the Roland Garros championship and never looked back. Having won the U.S. Open in 2004, her 2009 Paris win was her second Grand Slam Championship.

The steady baseline expert reached the quarters in Australia, the 3rd round at Wimbledon and the 4th round at the U.S. Open. We like the way Kuznetsova is competing. Her $3.2 million in earnings marked her best year on tour. Her overall 43-16 record was strong enough but left her knowing she had to improve her hard surface play. We expect Svetlana to defend in Paris but fall in Melbourne. Kuznetsova marked her successful year by climbing six places to the three seed.

Wozniacki Complete Strong Year

Danish glamour girl, 19-year old Caroline Wozniacki has plenty of reasons to smile and look forward to 2010. Her consistent baseline play earned the most tour wins in 2009. With 67 wins against 24 losses, Caroline just keeps on coming at opponents and flashing her Hollywood smile along the way.

Caroline needs to supercharge her weak serve if she is to move to the next level. As was apparent against Kim Clijsters in the 2009 U.S. Open finals, it is hard to win when you cannot hold serve. Upper echelon competitors sit on Wozniacki’s serve. If the Dane can solve that dilemma in the off-season, she will be tough at Melbourne. We think she needs a bit more seasoning (not spice). Look for another late season surge. Caroline jumped a remarkable seven notches in the rankings. Might be a case of too much, too soon.

Can Elena Dementieva Serve?

Elena Dementieva just may be the best women’s player to have never won a Grand Slam event. The svelte Russian beauty is poised, possesses terrific ground strokes and has beaten all the best players, just not in Grand Slam events.

Her season record was a respectable 55-18 and she reached the semis in Melbourne and London, where she had Serena on the ropes. Unfortunately, she tends to lose matches she should win, such as in the U.S. Open against Melanie Oudin.

When the year ended, Elena was working on a new serve. If her off-season work produces results, look for Elena to knock off Wozniacki in the quarters and push Serena in the semis. If only she realized how great a player she is!

Azarenka Has The Power

5’ 11” Belarus slugger, Victoria Azarenka may be the tour’s hardest hitter. In 2009, she displayed awesome streaks of brute force and used those bursts to forge a convincing 45-15 record. The fourth year pro had her best year and earned a hefty $1.8 million.

In Grand Slams, she reached the fourth round at Melbourne and the quarters in Paris and London. Victoria needs to pick her fights a little better and work on her court coverage and positioning. With improved foot speed, anything is possible.

We look for Victoria to have a successful start in 2010 and upset Dinara Safina in the quarters at Melbourne.

Kim Clijsters is Back!

Watch out world. Kim Clijsters is back. Poised, proven and up to any challenge, Kim knocked off Serena Williams in convincing style in the 2009 U.S. Open and went on to earn the crown.

Clijsters seems at peace with herself and the world and even a bit above the fray. We like her chances in Melbourne. A return to form would be welcomed by fans of women’s tennis.

He 13-3 record earned her a respectable $1.6 million in 2009. Think what she might do with a full year under her belt. Clijsters will win another Grand Slam and it may well be at Melbourne.

Can Sharapova Round Into Form?

It seems Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Jalena Jankovic are wearing down. Can Maria Sharapova mount a comeback?

She has the grunt working. The shoulder seems strong, but are the legs ready to go? The former Russian number one took some hard losses in 2009. Many of those may have been due to conditioning. So, the inevitable questions arise about her willingness to get is competitive shape.

Maria is a proven competitor but her focus has strayed. We expect she will climb the ladder but never quite catch up with the elite.


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