bracketology: the women at wimbledon

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By Christopher Phililps

For Wimbledon, our resident bracketologist, Chris Phillips, takes a look at both the men’s and women’s draws and breaks down who he thinks are going to be the winners — and losers — in the London this year. -NM

Look who’s back! Both Williamses are seeded for the Championships — and on opposite sides of the draw. (Photo by Stuart Tree via Flickr)

Caroline Wozniacki
Prediction: R3

Caroline’s only made it as far as the fourth round here twice in the past, including last year. Unfortunately, we don’t think this time she’ll be as lucky as her likely third round opponent will be hard-serving Jarmila Gajdosova. A loss to the upstart Gajdosova will only cast more doubt on her no. 1 ranking.

Vera Zvonareva
Prediction: QF

Last year’s finalist should feel good coming into the Championships winning a tough three-setter over Serena Williams in Eastbourne. Her consistency alone could ensure her another run to the final, but we think she’ll only make it as far as the QFs. Even in this questionable era of women’s tennis, Vera just doesn’t have what it takes to win a Major.

Na Li
Prediction: R2

Historically — well, the past couple years at least — it seems the women’s French Open champion hasn’t fared too well (Ivanovic, Kuznetsova and Schiavone are a combined 4-3) at Wimbledon. Given Li’s post-Australian Open slump, I fear history is set to repeat itself.

Victoria Azarenka
Prediction: R3

She’s only been a QF here once and went out to Marion Bartoli in Eastbourne — with an injury. Vika’s just too mercurial for us ever to put too much hope in her. She’s beginning to beg the question: is it ever going to happen? So far, it doesn’t look like it. Vika’s results just don’t live up to the hype (or the grunt).

Maria Sharapova
Prediction: Winner

It’s been a long, hard road for Maria back to the top and this will be the title that signifies to the world that she’s finally back. The one achilles’ heel will be her serve — it must stay on. But Maria loves the grass, and seven years after she won her first Slam we think it’s due time for a little bit of dejå ju in the final. Over Serena in the semis? Why  not.

Francesca Schiavone
Prediction: R16

If she can get past her first match with the recently-hot Jelena Dokic – which could be awfully difficult on grass — she’s got a pretty soft draw until she’ll run into Andrea Petkovic or Shahar Peer in the fourth round.

Serena Williams
Prediction: SF

How she’ll do is anyone’s guess. (Not even Serena knows!)  She could take the whole thing, but with probably the most unfavorable draw of the top eight seeds, she’s going to have a hard time getting there. If Serena gets past Aravane Rezai in her opener, she may have to deal with tricky Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in the second round, with sometimes giant-killer Maria Kirilenko possibly waiting in the third round and former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli in the fourth. | More: Ladies’ draw

Petra Kvitova
Prediction: Finalist

One of last year’s surprise semifinalists and this year’s Eastbourne finalist should do well on the grass courts this year again. Kvitova shouldn’t have too much trouble until running into Venus Williams or Zvonareva in the QFs, but she has a good relationship with the All England Club and will go a step further this year, solidifying her spot as a contender for future Slams.

Marion Bartoli
Prediction: R16

Even though Bartoli won Eastbourne, we’re still a little concerned about a (groin?) injury she seemed to obtain. Assuming she’ll be fit enough to play, Marion has a soft draw until she’d meet Serena in the fourth round.  The winner of that match — likely to be a slug-fest — should make it to the SF. Serena’s superior movement should get her past the French Open semifinalist, even if she isn’t at her baseline best.

Samantha Stosur
Prediction: R16

Another player who’s grass court play hasn’t seemed to have lived up to her potential. Another big server who’s yet to make it past the third round.  That’ll be her first battle here where her likely opponent will be the Chinese player Shuai Peng. But like Sharapova, if Stosur can get along with her serve and make it work for her, she could be dangerous.

Read Chris’ “Best of the Rest” (that includes Venus!) and see the most anticipated first-round match-ups after the cut.

Petko gave Venus all she could handle in her first match back on the tour since January. (Getty)

Andrea Petkovic
Prediction: SF

Petkovic is in the softest quarter of the draw and the third highest seed there behind Azarenka and Schiavone. She’s only had one match on grass this year, a first-round loss to Venus at Eastbourne. It was a close three-setter which we’re not reading too much into, but the chance to slug with Venus on the natural stuff is as good as three or four matches with lesser opponents. A steady head on her shoulders and Petko could take another step — along with Kvitova — at etching her name into the game’s consistent top 10.

Venus Williams
Prediction: R16
Of the two sisters, Venus has the toughest road ahead of her with Jelena Jankovic her probable opponent in the third round and then likely either last year’s finalist Zvonareva or last year’s semifinalist Pironkova in the fourth round.

Daniela Hantuchova
Prediction: QF

Hantuchova is also in Petkovic’s quarter. She reached the finals last week in Birmingham and the semis this week in Eastbourne with wins over Venus, Li, and Ana Ivanovic. You can’t shoo away her recent aforementioned success, nor the little bit of extra confidence she  must have taken away from drubbing Wozniacki in Paris. A run at 29? Nah… just another Slam quarter. The fifth  of her career. | More: Ladies’ draw

Jarmila Gajdosova
Prediction: QF

We think this will be Gajdosova’s breakout major.  Her serve should serve her well on grass but she’ll have to get past Wozniacki in the third round. Will it be a bellwether for the future? Perhpas Aussie fans will be paying more attention to Jarmila than Sam come the AO in 2012.

Sabine Lisicki
Prediction: QF

This year’s Edgbaston champion reached the QFs here back in 2009 before being set back with injuries. Awarded a wild card, Lisicki has been on a hot streak (she also made the second round via qualifying at the French) and probable second-round opponent Li Na is ripe for an upset. And lucky for Lisicki, she has the power to match.

Interesting R1 Matches:

No. 20 Peng vs. Kristen Flipkens
No. 3 Li vs. Alla Kudrayevtseva
No. 18 Ivanovic vs. Melanie Oudin
No. 7 Serena v Rezai
No. 6 Schiavone v Dokic
No. 28 Ekaterina Makarova vs. Christina McHale
No. 17 Kaia Kanepi (2010 quarterfinalist) vs. Sara Errani
No. 15 Jelena Jankovic vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
No. 2 Zvonareva vs. Allison Riske

More: Ladies’ draw

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