Saying that it's good for a specific player needs to build confidence early in a Slam is sort of like saying that a player needs to win more sets in order to advance. It's an obvious statement without a counterpoint. What, it's better if they lose confidence early? I'll make an exception for Caroline Wozniacki. All she's going to hear before her opening-round matches are "can you win a Slam?" or "do you have the talent to a major?" It doesn't matter how good or mentally tough you are; at some point you start to question whether it's true. Then she gets on the court, dispatches with her first few opponents and realizes that, yeah, she can do it. All of this was a roundabout way of saying that seeing a wily veteran like Kimiko Date Krumm in the first round may not be the best thing for Caro's confidence. She'll get past her. Sam Stosur, in the bottom half of the bracket, I'm not so sure.
By my count, there are eight women who could come out of the quarter and wouldn't be a surprise. There's a two-time Slam finalist (Vera Zvonareva), a former No. 1 (Jelena Jankovic), big hitting Russians (Nadia Petrova, Alisa Kleybanova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova), an American seemingly poised to make a second-week run (Bethanie Mattek-Sands), an enigmatic comeback story (Jelena Dokic) and the defending champion (Francesca Schiavone) and her Italian counterpart (Flavia Pennetta). All predictions are guesses. This one is a little more wild than most.
There's a potential for two great fourth-round matches in this quarter: Li Na v. Petra Kvitova and Ana Ivanovic v. Victoria Azarenka. Knowing this, expect to see Alexandra Dulgheru v. Dominka Cibulkova and Kaia Kanepi v. Roberta Vinci.
Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters are in the same quarter but their draws work out as well as they could have hoped. The top challengers in this quarter -- Agnieszka Radwanska, Andrea Petkovic, Yanina Wickmayer -- are proficient on clay, but hardly dominant. Maria Kirilenko and Jarmila Gajdosova (who went back to her maiden name last month after separating from husband Sam Groth) could surprise.
Best first-round match:
Virginie Razzano v. Jarmila Gajdosova (24)
Razzano's fiancee and coach, Stephane Vidal, died last week from a brain tumor he had been battling for nine years. Before his death, Vidal told Razzano she "has to play" in the French. She'll honor his wishes.
Best first-round upset possibility:
Johanna Larsson d. Ana Ivanovic (20)
Best possible second-round match:
Svetlana Kuznetsova (13) v. Aravane Rezai
Best possible third-round match:
Vera Zvonareva (2) v. Nadia Petrova (26)
Best possible quarterfinal:
Caroline Wozniacki (1) v. Sam Stosur (8)
Stosur d. Jankovic
Kvitova d. Sharapova
Kvitova d. Stosur
- Caroline Wozniacki
- Sam Stosur
- Vera Zvonareva
- Ana Ivanovic
- Nadia Petrova