Saturday, December 30, 2006

2007 Prediction Blowout

...ah, another one of these dual (or maybe "duel?") columns where Pierre and I compare our takes on the upcoming season.

This time, it's a full-on prediction blowout...

...first, a recap of the "Prediction Dart Boards" from the Intriguing Questions (including the few that have yet to be posted):

IQ #10
Alicia Molik will reach the QF of a slam, win two titles and return to the Top 15... Nadia Petrova will reach her first slam singles final... Tatiana Golovin will win her first career singles title... a Romanian will win a Jr. slam singles crown, and Raluca Olaru will reach a tour singles SF... Agnieszka Radwanska will win her first WTA singles title, while sister Urszula will claim a Jr. slam crown... Dinara Safina will win a Tier I... Sania Mirza will win a tour singles title in India, and her season-ending ranking will tick up at least 20 spots
IQ #9
Sania Mirza won't advance to a slam Round of 16... Maria Sharapova & Justine Henin-Hardenne will divvy up the four slam singles titles (2/2 or 3/1)... Kim Clijsters will win at least one Tier I title... Martina Hingis will reach the SF of either the Australian or Roland Garros, and maybe both... Nicole Vaidisova will still be in search of her first slam final when '07 ends... Daniela Hantuchova won't win her second career title, and Francesca Schiavone won't claim her first... Jelena Jankovic will win two titles, but none bigger than a Tier III... Shahar Peer will win multiple singles titles, and pull off one huge slam upset... Maria Kirilenko's results will prove to be more Anna-like than Sharapova-esque
IQ #8
Jelena Dokic's year-ending rank will be between #300-400, and her stretch of time without a slam match win will reach four years
IQ #7
Vania King will win two titles, while Jamea Jackson and Aleksandra Wozniak will win their first... Sharon Fichman and Madison Brengle will claim their first career ITF titles
IQ #6-5
Both Martina Hingis and Anna Chakvetadze will reach slam SF, while one of the Williams sisters will reach a slam final... Hingis & Chakvetadze will record more slam QF than the Venus & Serena combo... Chakvetadze will win three titles, but not another Tier I... but Hingis WILL win a Tier I... Venus & Serena won't be shut out of titles again, but neither will win one until the U.S. Open Series
IQ #4-3
Maria Sharapova and Nicole Vaidisova will play at least two meaningful matches, and Sharapova will win them all... Vaidisova will win two titles, one a Tier II... Vaidisova won't match her slam SF of '06... Sharapova will add to her career slam title tally (winning at least two), and will be named Female Athlete of the Year
IQ #2
Amelie Mauresmo will reach two slam SF, but no slam final... Justine Henin-Hardenne will win at least one slam title... Mauresmo will reach the YEC final
...Jankovic and Ivanovic will spend time in the Top 10, but won't finish there... Hingis will reach the second week of all four slams

And now a few more (some a bit more wild stab-in-the-dark than others):

10 First-time WTA titlists: Tatiana Golovin, Jamea Jackson, Kaia Kanepi, Jelena Kostanic, Romina Oprandi, Olga Poutchkova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Samantha Stosur, Aleksandra Wozniak, Meng Yuan
10 First-time WTA finalists:
Victoria Azarenka, Sybille Bammer, Vasilisa Bardina, Yung-Jan Chan, Jarmila Gajdosova, Karin Knapp, Victoriya Kutuzova, Tszvetana Pironkova, Aravane Rezai, Shuai Zhang
10 First-time WTA semifinalists:
Angelique Kerber, Mariya Koryttseva, Alla Kudryavtseva, Varvara Lepchenko, Raluca Olaru, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Jing Ren, Magdalena Rybarikova, Anna Tatishvili, Caroline Wozniacki
Slam singles finalists:
Maria Sharapova (3), Justine Henin-Hardenne (2), Nadia Petrova (1), the Williams family (1), Kim Clijsters (1)
No titles:
Daniela Hantuchova, Francesca Schiavone, Marta Domachowska, Shuai Peng
North Americans aged 21 or under:
five WTA tour singles titles
France will win the Fed Cup

And as for...

1- Maria Sharapova will win 2 slams, I'll go even further and say they'll be Melbourne and Wimbledon, in both finals she'll defeat Henin-Hardenne but will then lose to her in the US Open final (ok...what are the odds of getting this one)
2- By year end, one Williams sister will be out of the top 100 while the other one will be near the top 10 making big waves (and a run) at the US Open
3- American's tennis will continue to be in disaray as only one will feature in the top 50 by year-end.
4- By year end, Poland will have more top 100 players than Slovakia or Czech Republic, something few would have predicted a few years ago.
5- Kim Clijsters will only play one tournament prior to the US Open (Rogers Cup in Canada) as she will be preparing for US Open after a perfect wedding.
6- Aleksandra Wozniak, the #1 ranked Canadian player will enter the top 50, the first to do so in many years.
7- The WTA will continue its non-sense in joining the ATP to have its first round robbins in 2008, clearly in contrast with its stated goal of making the game simple (see US Open Series, new rankings, etc).
8- Jelena Jankovic will win a tier 1 title for the first time of her career but will lag fellow Serbian Ana Ivanovic in consistency
9- Anna Chakvetadze will continue to make serious strides, she will make the semifinals of one slam and the quarterfinals in two others
10- Not one American will win a main draw match in the French Open

...a Week 1 special, as the '07 Royale gets a little head start.

06 FINAL: Safarova def. Pennetta
07 TOP: Hingis/Safina

SF: Hingis d. King(Q); Peer d. Stosur
FINAL: Hingis d. Peer

...I so want to pick Peer here. She's 3-0 in career WTA finals.

06 FINAL: Bartoli d. Zvonareva
07 TOP: Jankovic/Myskina

SF: Jankovic d. Bartoli; Zvonareva d. Myskina
FINAL: Jankovic d. Zvonareva

...ugh, I picked two #1 seeds to win in Week 1. Probably a bad move.

06 FINAL: USA d. Netherlands
07 TOP GROUP SEEDS: Russia/Spain

FINAL: Australia d. Spain

...Molik's first step could be a big one (or, as big as it CAN be, considering last year's Hopman champs were Lisa Raymond & Taylor Dent).

HONG KONG, CHINA (exhibition)
06 FINAL: Clijsters d. Daveport
07 TOP: Sharapova/Kuznetsova

SF: Sharapova d. Vaidisova; Clijsters d. Kuznetsova
FINAL: Sharapova d. Clijsters

...Sharapova could play Vaidisova in the SF, but it still won't count as an "official" meeting.

Czech Republic def France

SF: Sharapova def Vaidisova, Clijsters def Kuznetsova
FINAL: Sharapova def Clijsters

SF: Bartoli def Jankovic, Myskina def Hantuchova
FINAL: Myskina def Bartoli

SF: Hingis def Vesnina, Peer def Safina
FINAL: Hingis def Peer

All for now.


NEXT IQ: Maria vs. Nicole... a battle for the ages, eventually?



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