A review of the women who can potentially win the 2012 Wimbledon final.
The action at SW19 begins in earnest this week with the women’s draw arguably the most wide open it has been for a number of years. With no outright leader at the top of the world rankings, there is every chance there will be a new name on the ladies’ trophy this year.
Last year’s champion, Petra Kvitova was a very popular winner and is seeded fourth in the first round draw to face Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan. But who are the main rivals to threaten Kvitova’s throne this time around?
Maria Sharapova warmed up by taking the honours at Roland Garros and arrives in London as the number-one seed. The big-hitting Russian is a fierce competitor and will yet again be tough to beat on the grass courts having won the championship back in 2004 as a fresh-faced 17-year-old. She started strong, winning her first round match against Anastasia Rodionova in straight sets.
Belarussian, Victoria Azarenka is the tournament’s second seed and will be looking to improve upon her semi-final appearance last year. The 22-year-old became the first Belarussian to win a grand slam earlier in the year, claiming victory in the Australian Open in Melbourne. She faces American Irina Falconi in the opening round.
Australian favourite, Samantha Stosur has often struggled on grass and is perhaps surprisingly seeded fifth having only reached the third round stage once in 2009. Stosur is through to the second round with a strong win over Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round in straight sets.
View pictures from Stosur’s round one match.
There are one or two other names that catch the eye whilst considering the rest of the women’s draw.
Serena Williams remains a powerful and competitive opponent despite entering her twilight years. She will have been hurt by a shock first round defeat to Virginie Razzano in the French Open – the first time she had lost in a grand slam opener in her career – and must surely be motivated to wow the British crowds over the next fortnight.
German, Angelique Kerber’s recent rise into the women’s top 10 has been of great interest. The 24-year-old has reached a career-high of number eight in the world rankings this month and if she can overcome the big-serving Lucie Hradecka in the opening round she has the game to go deep in the tournament.
British interest again surrounds Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong who face Karin Knapp and Laura Pous-Tio respectively. Whilst 18 year old starlet, Laura Robson, looks to continue her impressive development when she takes on 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone. British youngsters, Naomi Broady and Johanna Konta are also in the line up. Broady lost her first round match and Konta’s match against Christina McHale will resume on Tuesday after being suspended on Monday evening.
Heather Watson won her first round match against Iveta Benesova, becoming the first British woman to win a match on Wimbledon Centre Court since 1985.
One thing’s for sure, there’s going to be plenty of twists and turns – as long as the rain holds off! (Remember Cliff Richard’s infamous act at a memorable rain break in 1996?)
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Kerber could be the one to watch. Hopefully Heather Watson can get through R3.