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Rediff.com  » Sports » Wimbledon preview: Ladies special

Wimbledon preview: Ladies special

June 20, 2009 19:51 IST

Hard target

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A brief look at the strengths and weaknesses of the leading contenders for the women's title at Wimbledon which begins on Monday.

Venus Williams (US)

Seeded: No. 3

The defending champion will be hard to stop at the tournament that really sparks her A-game.

She did not drop a set last year on the way to her fifth Wimbledon singles title, dominating opponents with the sheer force of her game.

First serve is a huge weapon on grass while her baseline game keeps opponents on the back foot.

Moves like a gazelle, although mistakes can flow from her forehand on off-days.


Image: Venus Williams
Photographs: Reuters
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Will ensure a sibling rivalry

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Serena Williams (US)

Seeded: No. 2

The twice former champion never lacks self-belief and inexperienced opponents can be overawed by her intimidatory demeanour on court.

Like her sister she can call on considerable serving firepower and is lethal off the ground when anything drops short.

Began the year in style by winning the Australian Open, her 10th grand slam title but has only made one final since.

Endured a poor claycourt season with successive opening match defeats in Marbella, Rome and Madrid but Wimbledon's grass suits her game perfectly.


Image: Serena Williams
Photographs: Reuters
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Not so suited to Wimbledon lawns

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Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) 

Seeded: No. 5

A chat with Roger Federer at last year's Olympics seems to have worked wonders for Kuznetsova who has rediscovered her motivation.

A great mover, she is one of the best servers in the women's game and can volley too, although she does not venture forward as often as she should.

Her topspin forehand was perfect for French clay but not so suited to Wimbledon lawns where she has yet to get beyond the quarter-finals.


Image: Svetlana Kuznetsova
Photographs: Russia
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Can do some real damage

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Elena Dementieva (Russia)

Seeded: No. 4

A great ball striker whose precision groundstrokes can do real damage as she proved last year at Wimbledon by reaching the semi-finals and then going on to win the Olympic gold in Beijing.

Her serve used to be a weakness but has improved dramatically.

Another great Russian athlete.


Image: Elena Dementieva
Photographs: Reuters
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Will need her very best to win

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Dinara Safina (Russia) 

Seeded: No.1

Like her brother she wears her heart firmly on her sleeve and there is usually no doubt as to what kind of mood she is in.

A powerful baseliner, if rather one-dimensional, consistency is the key to her game.

She is a ferocious competitor although her movement can still be exposed by clever opponents.

Will need her very best tennis to win her first grand slam title here.


Image: Dinara Safina
Photographs: Reuters
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Has a great tennis brain but...

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Jelena Jankovic (Serbia)

Seeded: No.6

One of the best retrievers in the game and has a great tennis brain.

What she lacks in power she more than makes up for with accuracy, although her game can be passive at times.

Admitted this week that she is struggling for motivation so not many will be backing her.


Image: Jelena Jankovic
Photographs: Reuters
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Facing a terminal decline

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Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) 

Seeded: No. 13

Hard to say whether the 2008 French Open champion is experiencing a blip or whether her game is in terminal decline.

Has won only one title this year and her hard-hitting game continues to look fragile.

She failed badly in her attempt to defend her French Open title earlier in the month.


Image: Ana Ivanovic
Photographs: Reuters
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A dark horse

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Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) 

Seeded: No.9

A big year for the 18-year-old Dane who has produced consistently good results to break into the top-10 for the first time.

Has an exciting game with a sizzling double-handed backhand.

A relative rookie on grass but tipped by none other than Wimbledon great Martina Navratilova as a dark horse.

The win at the grass courts of Eastbourne (this Saturday) will do her confidence a world of good.


Image: Caroline Wozniacki
Photographs: Reuters
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