2009 French Open – Women’s Preview

Will Serena Williams win another French Open title?

Will Serena Williams win another French Open title?

Stay tuned to Nick’s Picks throughout the French Open for predictions and analysis of the tournament. Yesterday, we began with our breakdown of the Men’s Field. Today we have the Women’s Breakdown and Friday we will take a look at the Draws.

Top 10 Ranked Players

Dinara Safina (RUS)
Height:  5’11”
Weight:  154 lbs.
D.O. B:  04/27/1986
Turned Pro: 2000
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 1
2009 Titles: Rome and Madrid
2008 French Open: Finals

Nick’s Thoughts:

There has been a lot of debate lately about who is really the #1 player in the world. Serena said there is no doubt that she is, and Dinara commented right back saying that she is #1 for a reason. The edge has to go to Safina who has won back-to-back clay-court tournaments in Rome and Madrid leading up to the French Open. This is where she made her big breakthrough last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her holding the trophy at the end of the tournament!

P.S. This field is wide open so I wouldn’t bet your 401k on anybody!

Serena Williams (USA)
Height:  5’9”
Weight:  150 lbs.
D.O. B:  09/26/1981
Turned Pro: September 1995
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 2
2009 Titles: Australian Open
2008 French Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Since reaching the finals in Miami, Serena has really struggled losing three straight matches. She hasn’t won on clay thus far in 2009 and had to pull out of her last match because of an injury. Still, if I was a betting man I would count on Serena being there at the end. If she’s healthy I see a deep run, if not then it could be another early exit.

Venus Williams (USA)
Height: 6’1”
Weight:  160 lbs.
D.O. B:  06/17/1980
Turned Pro: October 1994
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 3
2009 Titles: Dubai and Acapulco
2008 French Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Venus is having a fairly good year, winning a clay-court title in Acapulco back in February. She reached the semis in Rome in early May, but then lost to Kleybanova in her first match in Madrid. She has never won the French Open, but was a finalist back in 2002. You can never overlook Venus, especially this year with how wide open the field is.

Elena Dementieva (RUS)
Height:  5’11”
Weight:  141 lbs.
D.O.B:  10/15/1981
Turned Pro: August 1998
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 4
2009 Titles: Auckland and Sydney
2008 French Open: Quarterfinals

Nick’s Thoughts:

At the beginning of the year, no one was playing better tennis than Dementieva. She won her first 15 matches before falling to Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarters down under. Her results on clay this year include semifinal appearances in Charleston and Stuttgart, and she is a former finalist at the French. No longer is her serve as attackable as is used to be and when you add this to her game she becomes a serious threat for the title.

Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Height:  5’9”
Weight:  130 lbs.
D.O.B:  02/28/1985
Turned Pro: 2000
Current Ranking: 5
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2009 Titles: Marbella
2008 French Open: Semifinals

Nick’s Thoughts:

Jankovic started out slow in 2009, but seems to be finding her game now. She won the title on clay in Marbella and has been to the quarters in Stuttgart, Rome, and Madrid. Against the top players, she is still struggling, but Jankovic has the ability and determination to turn it on and get herself pumped up for the big matches. She wants to get back on top of the rankings and there is no better place to make a splash then at a Grand Slam!

P.S. Her speed and agility must come back. She doesn’t cover the court as well as she has in the past.

Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 130 lbs.
D.O. B:  09/07/1984
Turned Pro: September 2000
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 6
2009 Titles: Pattaya City and Indian Wells
2008 French Open: 4th Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Zvonareva hasn’t played since Charleston because of an injury, but she is still planning on playing the French. She is a very good clay-courter and has already won two titles this year prior to the injury. Her movement is second to none, her groundstrokes are flawless, and she has a solid serve. All of this makes her a very dangerous player.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Height:  5’8”
Weight:  161 lbs.
D.O.B:  06/27/1985
Turned Pro:  2000
Current Ranking: 7
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2009 Titles: Stuttgart
2008 French Open: Semifinals

Nick’s Thoughts:

Kuznetsova has really played well on clay, winning the title in Stuttgart and then reaching the finals in Rome. She reached the finals here back in 2006 and the semifinals last year. She is an excellent clay-court player and I like her chances of making a deep run.

Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Height: 6’1”
Weight:  152 lbs.
D.O.B:  11/06/1987
Turned Pro: August 2003
Current Ranking: 8
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2009 Titles: None
2008 French Open: Champion

Nick’s Thoughts:

2008 was a super year for Ivanovic, but she is now in a period of confusion. She has only played one clay-court tournament (Rome) where she reached the third round before losing to Radwanska. She is the defending champion at Roland Garros and with that comes defending lots of points. No matter what her mindset is, she has to get focused and be prepared to defend last year’s title.

Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Height:  5’10”
Weight:  132 lbs.
D.O.B:  07/31/1989
Turned Pro: 2003
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 9
2009 Titles: Brisbane, Memphis, and Miami
2008 French Open: 4th Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Perhaps no one has had a better year than Azarenka. She has won three titles (including a big one in Miami) and she reached the semis in Rome. She has never been past the fourth round of any Grand Slam tournament, but I am thinking she could change that in Paris. Look for Azarenka to have a good tournament and challenge for the title.

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
Height:  5’10”
Weight:  128 lbs.
D.O.B:  07/11/1990
Turned Pro: July 2005
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 10
2009 Titles: Ponte Vedra Beach
2008 French Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Wozniacki just reached the finals in Madrid (losing to Safina) and was a finalist in Charleston (lost to Lisicki) – both were clay court tournaments. She has played a lot of matches already this year and is ranked a career high of #10 in the world. Like Azarenka she hasn’t been out of the fourth round of any Grand Slam, but she has the talent to change that right now!

Others to Watch

Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Height:  5’7”
Weight:  128 lbs.
D.O.B:  02/25/1982
Turned Pro: February 2000
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 14
2009 Titles: None
2008 French Open: 4th Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Pennetta is a steady Italian who plays well on just about every surface. In 2009, she reached the finals in Acapulco (clay) and the semis in Stuttgart (clay). She has the game to compete with the top girls and I wouldn’t be surprised if she knocks out a top-seed or two. Look out for Pennetta!

Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP)
Height:  5’6”
Weight:  130 lbs.
D.O.B:  07/31/1982
Turned Pro: January 1998
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 18
2008 Titles: Fes
2008 French Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Garrigues is at home on the clay and just won the tournament in Fes a couple of weeks ago. She is having one of the best years of her career and that should give her some confidence heading into the tournament.

Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
Height:  5’4”
Weight:  09/03/1988
Turned Pro: 2003
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 22
2009 Titles: None
2008 French Open: Quarterfinals

Nick’s Thoughts:

Navarro was the big surprise from last year’s French Open as she reached the quarterfinals after coming through qualifying. She followed that up with a quarterfinal showing at the Aussie Open this year. She seems to play better during the bigger tournaments and she needs a good showing to defend her points. She is also a crowd favorite because of her high energy play!

Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Height:  5’10”
Weight:  154 lbs.
D.O.B:  09/22/1989
Turned Pro: 2006
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Current Ranking: 38
2009 Titles: Charleston
2008 French Open: 2nd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Lisicki, a Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy student, won her first career WTA title in April in Charleston beating Venus Williams, Marion Bartoli and Caroline Wozniacki en route to the win. She then reached the quarterfinals in Estoril before pulling out with a minor injury. She is healthy and ready to roll and we are hoping for a strong showing from this young German.

Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Height: 6’2”
Weight:  130 lbs.
D.O.B: 04/19/1987
Turned Pro: April 2001
Current Ranking: 126
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2009 Titles: None
2008 French Open: 4th Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Sharapova took the court this week for the first time since last August due to a lingering shoulder injury. She has been practicing at the Academy for the last couple of months and looks healthy again, which is a great thing for the tour.  Clay has never been her best surface because of her movement, but she has had success here in the past reaching the quarters twice and the semis once. If she is feeling good and can quickly regain her confidence then watch out for Ms. Sharapova!

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~ by Nick's Picks on May 21, 2009.

5 Responses to “2009 French Open – Women’s Preview”

  1. [...] from NickPicks var addthis_pub = 'jess3781'; var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, [...]

  2. [...] tournament. Wednesday, we began with our breakdown of the Men’s Field and yesterday we had the Women’s Breakdown. Today we are looking at the [...]

  3. [...] tournament. Wednesday, we began with our breakdown of the Men’s Field and yesterday we had the Women’s Breakdown. Today we are looking at the [...]

  4. Errr, Nick, Dementieva beat Suarez Navarro comfortably (2 and 2) in the Aus Open qtrs. She was stopped by Serena in a high quality encounter in the semis. By the way – what’s your actual pick for the tournament?

    • I think Nadal on the women’s side and you have to give the edge to Safina on the women’s side, but it is wide open!

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