Wozniacki a contender, Clijsters the outsider, Sharapova can win and Ana Ivanovic gives tough draws – A Roland Garros 2011 preview

I am not really one for writing previews. It’s a guessing game if you ask me. Like when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the finals of the Australian Open. Who would have guessed that? Certainly not me…it’s things like that that put me off.  No matter how hard you try, it’s still a guessing game. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun previewing the French Open 2011.

Caroline Wozniacki is a contender

This is supposed to be her moment. She can win the tournament in 2011 but it’s going to be very tough. Wozniacki has some good results on clay in the warm up tournaments reaching the finals of Stuttgart and winning Brussels and Charleston but failed to impress at the big tournaments such as the Mutua Madrid Open and the Italy Open.

I’m happy to be the first winner of the Brussels Open by GDF SUEZ! It’s a beautiful city and the crowd was great all week : ) Now I’m looking forward to Roland Garros – I think I play on Monday, but I’ll be ready…

Will she win this year’s Roland Garros? She is a contender but to be honest with you, she is not going to win this year’s Roland Garros.

Maria Sharapova is a potential winner

Maria Sharapova gallery is only short of the Roland Garros title to complete her career Grand Slam. And mind you, she is only 24 years old. With her win at the Italy Open, mainly thanks to her serve that seems to be holding now, she showed that she has a game for clay.  Would it be too soon to say that she can win Roland Garros? I think not. So I am going to say it out loud: Maria Sharapova can win Roland Garros.

And how does Sharapova prepare for a Grand Slam? Right, by going into the city to relax.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. I had an early practice today and decided to enjoy the city. I am trying to push myself these days to take the time to enjoy these amazing places I travel to. So many times all I see is the hotel, airport and tennis courts. Going to have a nice dinner tonight with my team and have an early night.

Victoria Azarenka has to stay injury free to win

Now here is a player who is in form. She won Miami, Marbella, was forced to withdraw from Stuttgart due to injury, reached the finals of Madrid and then was forced to retire in Italy. And with Azarenka now being able to keep her head cool under pressure, she definitely has a shot at winning her first Grand Slam title in Paris. But in order to win it, you have to stay injury free. Can she do that? If so then we might just have a winner on our hands here.

Kim Clijsters is the dangerous outsider

Kim Clijsters has been working hard to get in shape for the French Open 2011.  Her participation was in doubt for a long time after sustaining two injuries. One on her wrist and a foot injury after falling at a wedding.  She surprised friend and foe when her name showed up on the sheet.  Kim Clijsters has never won Roland Garros but is a two time finalist.  Can she win? Kim Clijsters has not played any of the warm up tournaments and hasn’t played on clay at all. But don’t let that fool you. With a minimal preparation she won the US Open back in 2009 and let’s not forget that Kim Clijsters is a clay  specialist. Those are things that speak in her favour. But for now she is the dangerous outsider.

Other players to watch:

Julia Goerges – Impressively won Stuttgart and reached far in Madrid.
Andrea Petkovic -  Is having an amazing season 2011 so far. She won Strasbourg 2011 and is one of the most entertaining players on the tour in my humble opinion.
Vera Zvonareva  – Always a contender whereever she plays.
Petra Kvitova – Impressive win at the Mutua Madrid Open and then went on to play a ITF tournament. Am I missing something here?  At any rate, watch out for Petra Kvitova and here is why: http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/4501
Samantha Stosur – I think she is one of the hardest working woman on the tour. Always good to watch and last year’s finale wasn’t a fluke, she is the real deal.
Francesca Schiavone – The 2010 Roland Garros winner.  Will she win this year? No way.  Let’s hope doesn’t pull a Myskina by losing in the first round as the title defender.

Special mention: Ana Ivanovic

So this is what you get when you let Ana Ivanovic do the draw for Roland Garros 2011.

Oops! I didn’t help my friends Nole or Rafa with the Roland Garros draw this morning – I gave them both tough draws! I’m happy to be in the half of the draw that doesn’t play on Sunday, but I’m looking forward to my first match.

But at least we got a good photo out of it!

All kidding aside. I am happy to hear that Ana can play Roland Garros 2011.  And judging by her Facebook message about her unfortunate withdrawal from the Internationaux de Strasbourg proved to be a good decision.

Had a very good day. Nice practice this morning, including backhands. :) My wrist is feeling better. Then in the evening I went to the roof of a famous Parisian store and hit with Sam Stosur, Tsonga and Gasquet on a mini clay court. Amazing views of the city!

And I am cautiously optimistic when I say that Ana can make it to the fourth round.  She just got back from injury and hasn’t played too many warm up tournaments.

Weekly links

Have you checked the new Tennis Reporters website yet? If not then you should: http://www.tennisreporters.net/

Want to play in the suicide pool for Roland Garros? Check Jennifer’s game at Racquet Required

Happy 130th birthday USTA (World Tennis Magazine)

Rachel wraps up the weekend (On The Go Tennis)

And Ralf Reinecke pleases us with some photos of Strasbourg.

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