(Hey people! DtL contributor Cristina is offering her take on this year's ladies' US Open draw. She also covered the Nike "Grapple in the Apple" event last night for DtL which I'll post about later. So in the meantime, heeere's Cristina!)
New York will once again be the tennis capital of the world when the US Open begins on Monday. It’s an understatement to say the women’s field is currently wide open. So far, we’ve had 3 Grand Slams with 3 different champions - Maria Sharapova in Australia, Ana Ivanovic at Roland Garros, and Venus Williams at Wimbledon. But with defending champion Justine Henin retired away and Maria out with a nagging shoulder injury, who will shine under the New York lights to claim the final Grand Slam of the season? Let's take a look:
DINARA SAFINA - It’s only appropriate to start the women’s US Open preview with the hottest player on the WTA Tour right now, Dinara Safina. Marat’s little sis has been playing big since she reached the final at Roland Garros this year. Dinara also won the US Open Series with victories in LA + Montreal then topped it off with a silver medal at the Olympics. Will she be fresh enough for the glitz and glamour of the Big Apple? A win at the US Open would be a fairy tale ending for Dinara's amazing summer. If she continues with this surge, a Grand Slam title is within her grasp.
ANA IVANOVIC - Reigning world no. 1 Ana Ivanovic is looking to improve her performance in New York where she has never passed the fourth round. The sensational Serb has had lackluster results since her exhilarating French Open win including a third round thrashing by Zheng Jie and an early exit at the Rogers Cup, and a withdrawal from Beijing. Ana seems hungry to get back her winning ways so if the thumb holds up and her forehand regains its stellar form, she'll be a threat for her first US Open win.
JELENA JANKOVIC - Aside from being excited to debut a new outfit at this year’s US Open, Jelena Jankovic is anxious to reach her first Grand Slam final. Her short, but drama-filled stint as the top-ranked lady baller caused quite a stir because many felt she didn’t deserve it. The injury-prone second seed reached the quarterfinals in 2007 but she’ll have to do better if she wants to silence her critics.
SERENA WILLIAMS - Heart-inked Serena Williams is looking for her first Grand Slam since 2007 when she fought her way to the Aussie Open title. She had a great start to the year winning Tier 1's in Miami and Charleston and then reaching the Wimbledon final. Unfortunately the 8-time Grand Slammer suffered an injury to her shaky knee forcing her to withdraw from Stanford and LA. She turned it around in Beijing, though, partnering with sister Venus and grabbing doubles gold. Will this win give ReRe enough momentum to drive the 2-time champ to her third US Open title?
VENUS WILLIAMS - Wimbledon champ Venus Williams is looking for her first US Open championship since 2001. With a tumultuous year so far (aside from her fifth win at The All-England Club), Venus isn’t a shoe in for this year’s Open, but as they say, never count out a Williams sister in any Grand Slam event.
THE RUSSIANS - The Russians made an impressive run at the Olympics, but will they play as well in New York? Last year’s finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova has had a disappointing 2008 so far with no tour titles on hand. Can she repeat her 2004 US Open victory? Gold medal winner Elena Dementieva has made progress through each Grand Slam tourney this year – the fourth round in Australia, the quarters at the French Open, and the semis at Wimbledon.
With so many talented players in the WTA Tour it’s hard to predict a clear-cut winner. The sudden retirement of Justine Henin has challenged the ladies to fill some pretty big shoes. Every Grand Slam offers its own set of surprises, but tennis fans should expect the majority of the top players to outshine the rest. We’ll find out in two weeks which woman ends her summer with a new US Open trophy.
So who are your contenders for the women's US Open title? Do tell!
(image via Getty)