Will Maria Be Queen Of Wimbledon?

| June 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

Five years ago at the ripe age of 17, Maria Sharapova stormed Wimbledon and leapt squarely into a tennis world that was waiting for a glamour girl to ignite enthusiasm in the women’s game.  The stage was set and along came this lanky teenager with a stop-dead baseline power game and a heavy serve. Maria Sharapova was just what women’s tennis needed,

After fighting an understandable urge to become distracted with media opportunities and build a brand that included modeling, fashion and just about anything else, critics began to wonder about Maria’s commitment. Her on court demeanor changed subtly but it was changing and not for the best.  And, then along came a career threatening shoulder injury and after rehabilitation more injuries. She came back to the tour briefly before suffering a wrist problem. More rehab, less modeling.  Maria Sharapova was at the cross roads of a career gone bad or a career to be.

The road back to top seed at Wimbledon and the top ranking in the world has been filled with spectacular wins, disappointing losses, serving nightmares and memorable comebacks.  Maria’s fans have suffered her serving inconsistencies because what began to evolve is a player that learned to win when the serve was not there.  Just as cream rises to the top, Maria became a player other players did not want to play. She became the most focused, most determined player on the WTA circuit.

For Maria Sharapova (11/4), the time for promise is gone.  The time to deliver is now.  After her powerful run in Paris, Maria finally completed her climb to the top of the hill. Now, we shall see how Maria dos as a frontrunner.

Although the 6’0” Russian beauty is atop the heap, there are plenty of landmines that will need to be dodged.  On a surface where the serve is critically important, Maria cannot afford to relinquish service games via double fault.

Maria might get an early second round test from unorthodox left-hander, Tsvetana Pironkova (100/1), but should prevail. Maria (36-5 in 2012) can expect a very-prepared Vania King  in the third round when the tournament will turn up a notch.  In the fourth round Sharapova could meet Sloane Stephens one of a talented group of Germans Sabine Lisicki (25/1). 

The lower half of Sharapova’s bracket features Belgian Kim Clijsters (16/1), who is playing in her last Wimbledon and will be a sentimental crowd favorite. She will open against 18th seed Jelena Jankovic (100/1).  Clijsters can move out but in her last outing appeared to be out of shape.  In her career, Kim has won seven and lost one to Jankovic. The more likely quarterfinalist will be hard-serving Angelique Kerber, the 8th seed.

Agnieszka Radwanska (33/1), the 3rd seed, heads the bottom bracket on age 1.  Radwanska, 38-8 in 2012, but lost in the second round last year.  By the luck of the draw, Aggie will most likely face 5-time Wimbledon Champion, Venus Williams (20/1), in the second round. Grass is good for Venus Who looked unenthusiastic in Paris but responds well to her London fan support.  Li Na (25/1) could present problems but the biggest challenge will come from sweet serves Samantha Stosur (25/1)who succumbed to nerves in Paris.

Defending champion Petra Kvitova (22-8 in 2012) has not returned to the form that saw her dominate Sharapova in the finals last year. She has not slipped to win notches to number 4 and is not favored to win her bracket. That’s because Serena Williams (11/4)   has climbed to number six and is in Kvitova‘s (7/2) bracket.

Serena’s fitness is in question after dropping a first round match in Paris.  A four-time champion at Wimbledon and 12-time Grand Slam Champion, Serena can be a force if she can survive two weeks of intense competition. With Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova not in form, Kvitova and Williams look to have a clear path to the semis.

Second seed Victoria Azarenka (6/1) started fast in 2012 and claimed her first Grand Slam in Melbourne before a disappointing 4th round loss in Paris. Sporting a handsome  38-4 record in 2012, it seems hard to imagine who will deter Victoria.  Perhaps Julia Goerges or an improving Ana Ivanovic but I Azarenka plays with focus she should cruise into the semis. Former number one, Carolyn Wozniacki (20/1) has not trained well and may have difficulty against her first round challenger, Tamira Paszek, won at Queen’s last week.

From here, we like Victoria Azarenka to done Rena Willams and the put too much pressure on Sharapova’s erratic serve in the finals. Sharapova will have to struggle with Stosur in the semis. A great two weeks is ahead.

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