Monday, April 18, 2011

The Road to Roland Garros is Paved With Unknowns

No Serena. No Kim. No Elena. No Venus. Sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime for rising players like Petra Kvitova and Andrea Petkovic.
The race to Roland Garros is on, and most of the heavy hitters on the WTA Tour are nursing injuries that they suffered while dancing. Huh?

I'm serious, and as outlandish as it sounds, it's true. It's also pathetic, but that's another rant for another time.

It's just plain screwy that Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters are unlikely to make the 2011 French Open, and the reasons are even more mind-boggling than the pure athleticism that each women has displayed at the height of their tennis ball-pulverizing powers.

It's also pretty damn sad that Elena Dementieva and Justine Henin have retired and that Venus Williams is too banged up to get back on the court yet.

Stupid and sad, yeah -- that about sums it up.

But one woman's trash is another woman's treasure. While the 2011 French Open is shaping up to be sorely lacking in star power, it also promises to be an exciting opportunity for a hungry stable of young players and surly veterans who have been biding their time patiently on the WTA's fringes.

The events of the last year -- currently sidelined are a whopping 31 Grand Slam titles (Serena, 13/ Venus, 7/ Henin, 7/ Clijsters, 4) -- could very well bust the door wide open for a first-time French Open winner to walk through.

I don't know if there's ever been a kookier lead up to a Grand Slam, but the bizarre fizzle is presenting many with an opportunity to sizzle.

Works for me. How about you?

Usually it takes a few rounds of a Slam for a WTA draw to get completely busted open. The 2011 French Open is going to begin that way -- and who knows where it will go from there.

Caroline Wozniacki is the clear No. 1, but when it comes to winning majors, she'll have to defer to last year's champion Francesca Schiavone, 2009 Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2008 Champion Ana Ivanovic, and three-time Grand Slam Champion Maria Sharapova. But don't think for a second that you can rule out young guns Andrea Petkovic and Petra Kvitova. Or recently rejuvenated Victoria Azarenka, who has long been a woman in search of a career-defining Slam run.

But that's not all. I couldn't even begin to list every woman with a chance to win this year's French Open because there simply are too many.

The door is wide open.

Pay attention Vera Zvonareva!

Did you hear that Na Li?

Are you listening Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova?

Do you have your ears on Jelena Jankovic?

Feel like getting the monkey off your back, Sam Stosur?

Some Grand Slams have wide open fields. Others are hard to predict. The 2011 French Open is in another league entirely.

They say luck is where preparation meets opportunity. The preparation for the French Open will be over in 32 days, but the opportunity will still be there.


  1. That's 31 GS sidelined. Kim has 4 (3 US + 1 Aus)
    Kim and Venus are out for sure or they are still uncertain ?

  2. Thanks, Palbi

    Uncertain -- just thinking that they are very doubtful at the moment...

  3. Not so sure if Sharapova has a shot at RG - she has only two clay court titles to her name (last one in 2010). Definitely agree on RG being wide open, and a huge opportunity for a first-timer.

  4. For more info about French Open 2011, Qualified Players, Draws, Schedule, Dates and many more visit only

  5. funny you don't mention the queen of clay to begin with, Henin and mentions another retired player instead, Elena. After all, who expects Venus to go deep in the French?
    That said, I do agree it is pretty wide open. But, and this is a big but, it would be pretty wide open even with those players in it. Serena hasn't won it since 2002? Clijsters hasn't reach the final since 2003. Elena never reached the final, Venus hasn't done much on clay in how many years now? What I'm saying is - Serena wouldn't be an outright favourite. Henin may have been could she still play, but that is another story. Clijsters? Hmm, not so sure of her clay-form, she wasn't impressive at all last year. So, GS champs lacking or not, the field is and would be wide open at the French

  6. And Wozniacki increasingly looks the part of the favourite


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