One of the most exciting parts of the slams is when the draw comes out. Tennis fans, regardless of their fave, are nervous, anxious and excited all at the same time; waiting to see who their faves will play. It’s kind of like a kid waiting to see what they got for Christmas on Christmas morning. Well today, as tennis fans, we got our gifts. A gift as in the French Open draw. OK, maybe not exactly a gift to everyone. Possibly coal to others. But you get my point.
Ana will open up against a qualifier in the first round. As of this moment, we of course don’t know who that will be; but Ana should get through regardless. Emphasis on the word should. If she advances, Shahar Peer or Stephanie Dubois would await in the second round. Peer has given Ana troubles in the past. She holds a 3-0 record against Ivanovic, defeating her in the opening round at Wimbledon, just two years ago. She beat Ana again in Carlsbad a month later. That was back when Peer was a top 15 player, while Ana was outside the top 40. Shahar has been in poor form as of late, and there’s no reason why Ana should have any problems against her this time around.
A third round encounter with Sara Errani looks like a real possibility. Ana holds a 2-0 lead in the head-to-head against the Italian, with victories coming at the 2009 French Open and Wimbledon. Both matches featured tight first sets, with Ana taking the first match at Roland Garros 7-6(3) 6-3; then the second one at the All England Club 7-5 6-1. Errani is great on clay, boasting a 13-3 record on the surface this year, with titles in Acapulco and Barcelona. She was only 2-2 in Madrid and Rome however. Definitely a tricky third round opponent. Johanna Larsson, who knocked Ana out of Roland Garros in the first round last year, also could be waiting. Though, I doubt it.
Then comes the fourth round. Ana avoided Viktoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, both of whom she lost to in Madrid and Rome respectively. Meanwhile, Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams have been drawn together in a blockbuster second round match in Ana’s section. The winner of this match will likely reach the fourth round (though Kuznetsova could have something to say about that). Agnieszka has won her last four encounters against Ivanovic. Two of them on clay. It should be noted that all of their matches have been close, and the two clay meetings came during 2009 and 2010 when Ana was really struggling with her form. On the flip side, Radwanska has had a great season. All of her loses have come against world #1 Viktoria Azarenka, until losing to Petra Cetkovska last week in Rome. I think Ana has a fair shot in this match. Underdog? Yes. Impossible to win? Far from it. It should be a great battle if they were to meet. Same with Venus Williams, who Ana has only defeated once (Australian Open 2008). Marion Bartoli and Angelique Kerber are potential semifinal opponents, should Ana get that far.
Overall I believe Ana has an alright draw. Nothing too hard, but nothing easy either. It was a given she was going to draw one of the top four seeds in the fourth rounds. Avoiding Masha and Vika certainly helps Ana’s cause. While I prefer her to play an inconsistent Kvitova over Radwanska; Ana certainly has a shot against A-Rad or Venus. As I said, it will be difficult, and she certainly would be the underdog if that occasion were to happen; but if you want to be the best, you got to beat the best.
What am I hoping for? Quarters, quarters, quarters. It has been four years since Ana has reached a quarterfinals at a grand slam; and on the four year anniversary of her French Open title, this would be the perfect time to end the streak. As for predictions, I have no clue. To be honest, you don’t want me to be making any, anyways.