Another Grand Slam so soon? That can only mean one thing: More VANtage Point, where our slogan is “The place where Schiavone was predicted to make the finals of the French Open!” (Sorry, RiCH: I promise that’ll be the last time I mention my prediction!) It’s that time of the year again, where even the non-tennis fans follow what’s going on in the sport. But first...
A Look Back: The last time I was here players were slip-sliding away on the clay at the French Open, where Rafael Nadal won his fifth title and Francesca Schiavone her first. Congrats to both of them!
This Week’s Spotlight: Wimbledon - Do I have to say anything else? Well, yeah, I guess I should! The most prestigious event on either tour kicks off in a matter of hours, and Roger Federer, the six-time champion, is looking to equal Pete Sampras’ record of seven titles. The road won’t be easy with Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and 125 other guys trying to do their best to stop him. Defending women’s champ Serena Williams knows how to get it done there too as she tries for her fourth win. Big sis Venus really knows what it takes with five tiny plates from the All England Club lining her trophy cabinet. The sisters, the top two seeds, will be facing a number of contenders looking to break their dominant streak.
Players to Watch: Because there are so few standouts on grass, I feel this is the best surface to point out some players who could have their moment in the sun (provided there's enough to spare and there aren’t many rain outs). For instance, on the men’s side watch how Feliciano Lopez makes out (I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who would love to see how Lopez 'makes out'!) Seriously, though, if he was just a couple of notches better I’d say he would have a great shot at taking Fed out in the fourth round. In my heart of hearts, I see Lleyton Hewitt beating Novak Djokovic in the Sweet 16. And there’s this guy named Rafael Nadal who won the Big W a couple of years ago. He’s not your typical grass-court specialist, but he’s obviously gotten it done before. I think his draw is super, super tough so catch him while you can!
As for the women, I’m intrigued by the prospects of two players that are probably on a lot of “favorite” lists: Kim Clijsters and Jelena Jankovic, who are drawn to meet each other in the quarters. If neither one of them made it that far, I wouldn’t be surprised. And don’t sleep on former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli making a run.
The Final Fours: For the men, I’m going with a repeat of last year’s epic final on the top half with the same result: Federer over Andy Roddick. On the bottom half, it’ll be Andy Murray stopping surprise semifinalist Marcos Baghdatis. As for the ladies, I’m picking Maria Sharapova (who I think will win a slugfest over Serena in the fourth round) to top Sam Stosur and Venus knocking off Justine Henin.
And the Winners Are … : I don’t think they’ll keep doing this forever, but Federer and Venus still have some cup- and plate-kissing, respectively, to do in their careers. Watch them continue that in two weeks.
Enjoy the tournament!
Van Sias writes the blog Tennis Talk, Anyone?