If nothing else, the Sony Ericsson Women’s WTA Tour showed that the sport, at least on the women’s side, is flourishing better than ever with more talented players cropping up from countries covering the globe, more so today, than at any time in women’s professional tennis history.
Four Grand Slam Title
Though the four Grand Slam titles were won by three familiar faces in former or current World No. 1’s, Justine Henin, Venus Williams and Serena Williams, several other Top 10 players made and indelible impressions on the sport and announced their respective arrivals to the ranks of the elite with big-time statements in some cases and slow and steady progress in others. The fact of the matter is that every Grand Slam on the calendar it has a legitimate chance of being won by multiple top 10 challengers outside of the aforementioned trio.
From the likes of Maria Sharapova to Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jelena Jankovic, Amelie Mauresmo, Nicole Vaidisova, Ana Ivanovic, Anna Chakvetadze and a returning Lindsay Davenport, the tour’s top 10 players have improved to a degree that it is difficult to pinpoint which one of the world’s elite players will come out on top at any given tournament. Having said that, the 2008 Australian Open is a perfect example.
Despite the fact that last year’s winner, Serena Williams has to be considered the favorite to win in 2008 after winning the 2007 title in emphatic fashion over a stunned Sharapova who had breezed through the tournament up until that point where she crumbled fast and hard to Williams’ unrelenting power. Not only did Williams, who has seen a decline in her physical health the past couple of seasons, win the 2007 title.
But she has also won three of the last five Australian Opens, including 2005 when she beat Lindsay Davenport 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 and 2003, when she beat sister Venus, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4.
The Williams Sisters at it Again
Heck, if you want to talk Grand Slam dominance, it must be noted that one of the Williams sisters has won at least one Grand Slam tournament in seven out of the last nine years and multiple titles in six of those seasons, including four straight from 2000 to 2003.
However, let it be noted that Williams has relegated her three Australian Open victories to one every other year beginning in 2003. Meaning she’s scheduled to skip 2008 before she wins again in ’09.
Henin has been consistent in winning her career eight Grand Slam titles, alternating between two and one, Grand Slam victories in each season, starting with 2003 when she won, the French and U.S. Opens, a tough trick she duplicated on the two very different surfaces in 2005 and again last season.
Here is a list of each of the 2007 Grand Slam winners, all of the Australian Open Winners since 2000, followed by the 2008 Odds and my selection on the actual winner.
2007 Grand Slam Winners
- Australian: Serena Williams
- French: Justine Henin
- Wimbledon: Venus Williams
- U.S. Open: Justine Henin
- Recent Australian Open Winners
- 2000: Lindsay Davenport
- 2001 Jennifer Capriati
- 2002 Jennifer Capriati
- 2003 Serena Williams
- 2004 Justine Henin
- 2005 Serena Williams
- 2006 Amelie Mauresmo
- 2007 Serena Williams
Odds to Win the Women’s Australian Open
- Anna Chakvetadze +2500
- Nadia Petrova +4000
- Agnes Szavay +4500
- Marion Bartoli +8000
- Agniezka Redwanska +8000
- Daniela Hantuchova +8000
- Maria Kirilenko +10000
Okay tennis bettors and fans here’s what I see out of the top contenders for the 2008 Australian Open title.
Serena Williams only wins the even every other year, so count her out. Venus has never won the Australian Open. Ditto for her, leaving Henin and Sharapova as the most likely contenders to take home the hardware. Though I can certainly see Jelena Jankovic winning her first Grand slam title in 2008 or even Amelie Mauresmo making a solid comeback. After an injury-plagued 2007, I think this title will eventually come down to a choice between Henin and Sharapova.
Ultimately, I’m going to take a determined Sharapova to bounce back from last year’s embarrassing finals loss to Serena Williams. Then win the 2008 title over Henin in a thriller. I’ll also go out on a limb and pick Svetlana Kuznetsova as my dark horse selection. Either Henin or Sharapova fall by the wayside before the finals.
- WTA Free Picks: Maria Sharapova
- Darkhorse Pick: Svetlana Kuznetsova