Who Are These Women?

French Open 2012
By Hiland Doolittle, June 5th, 2012

While the Men’s Draw has held remarkable form, what is happening on the Women’s side of the 2012 French Open is mind-boggling. Only three of the quarterfinalists would be known to the casual pro circuit followers.  Gone are the likes of bookmaker favorite, Serena Williams, a first round casualty, Venus Williams, a six-time Grand Slam Champion, Aggie Radwanska, the third seed, Caroline Wozniacki, WTA number one for nearly two years and Italy’s clay court champion Francesca Schiavone and defending champion Li Na.  What a mess!

Yaroslava Shvedova surprised Li Na

Or, is it? 2011 Champion Li Na appeared to be cruising through the draw until today.  An unlikely challenger, unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazmania came out of nowhere to surprise Li, 3-6,6-2,6-0. Li, not known as one to go quietly was frustrated by Shvedova’s court coverage and power play. Li committed 41 unforced errors to seal her fate.  Shvedova will be a decided underdog in the quarters where she will face large woman and 4th seed Petra Kvitova, who made it look easy against American Varvara Lepchenko 6-2,6-1. Kvitova has moved quietly through the draw.

The new bookmaker’s favorite, Maria Sharapova can never be accused of moving quietly through the draw. In one of the most pitiful exhibitions of clay court tennis to grace a fourth round at Roland Garros, the squealing Sharapova downed struggling Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 6-7(5),6-2. Sharapova had 12 double faults, 53 unforced errors and was broken 9 times. And, she won! Sharapova will next face 23rd seed Kaia Kanepi who needed three sets to put away 97th ranked Arantxa Rus 6-1,4-6,6-0. Sharapova and Kanepi have never played against each other.

In tomorrow’s quarters, diminutive Dominika Cibulkova, who can be thanked for reducing the noise by overcoming the top seed Victoria Azarenka, will face consistent and heavily favored Samantha Stosur. The two have played once and Stosur, who is the reigning US Open Champion, was victorious.  Stosur has shown no symptoms for the nervousness that has plagued her career.

Sara Errani, the 21st seed, is carrying Italy’s flag. Sara has moved methodically through the draw and brushed aside Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-0, 7-5. Errani will face another big server 10th seed Angelique Kerber who has emerged as the top ranked German from a team loaded with talent. Kerber has won their only previous confrontation.

From here, it looks like expect the unexpected. We like Stosur to hoist the crown.


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