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French Open 2011: Women's Draw Analysis

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francesca_schiavoneWhat lies in store in the women's draw? Will Caroline Wozniacki breakthrough the slam wall or will she remain in the slamless no.1 club that includes Dinara Safina & Jelena Jankovic? How long will Clijsters keep her 14 match slam streak going? Will Sharapova finally complete her slam collection with a win at Roland Garros? Will Schiavone recreate that moment of magic when she won last year? Which one of several contenders will break through this year? We look to make sense of this by breaking down the women's draw

Quarter 1:

Caroline Wozniacki begins her quest against giant killer Kimiko Date-Krumm and the Japanese is the first of many potential hurdles. Hantuchova, Peer, Kuznetsova and Marino all can upset the Dane's applecart on a good day. The opposite side of her quarter includes a collection of players who have shown some top pedigree on clay. Sam Stosur reached the final here last year, Julia Goerges who beat Caroline twice on clay this year and the unconventional Bartoli who is a difficult opponent for any player albeit more potent on the faster surfaces.

Quarterfinal: Wozniacki v Stosur

Semifinalist: Stosur

Quarter 2:

The top ranked Russian is Vera Zvonareva and she has earned that by making it to the final of Wimbledon and New York and the semis in Melbourne. However clay is not her favourite surface and this lends an openness to her section of the draw. She faces an awkward 2nd round against Sabine Lisicki who had to get through qualifying to come here due to injury issues. If she makes it past the big serving, hard hitting German, she is likely to have to make it past fellow Russians Petrova, Pavlyuchenkova or Kleybanova to get through. The bottom half of this section includes defending champion Francesca Schiavone and former world no.1 Jelena Jankovic. Schiavone's run last year was clearly the zenith of her career and the Italian displayed much grace and courage during that run. Expect the 4th round clash between her and Jankovic to be an exciting one to watch.

Quarterfinal: Pavlyuchenkova v Schiavone

Semifinalist: Schiavone

Quarter 3:

This section features a few title contenders including Azarenka, Kvitova and Li Na making this quite an open section. The quarter is headed by 4th seeded Azarenka who should be able to ease through the first week before facing a serious test in the 4th round. Popular former champion Ivanovic is on the recovery trail and Kaia Kanepi is a hard hitter of the ball too. One of them is likely to be the 4th rounder for Victoria as she navigates her section of the draw. In the other half, Australian open finalist Li Na will be hard pressed to repeat her heroics. She could face a tricky Elena Vesnina in round two and almost certainly will have to get through Petra Kvitova in the 4th round. The lefty seems to have developed the habit of going very deep or falling early and she certainly hopes it will be the former for her. Diminutive Dominika Cibulkova lurks as an outsider in this section.

Quarterfinal: Kvitova v Azarenka

Semifinalist: Kvitova

Quarter 4:

The bottom quarter of the bottom half of the draw is where the former slammers sit. Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova sit at either end of the quarter with clay court proficiency and recent form being their calling cards respectively. Both women know what it takes to navigate the two week slam period but neither have done it here. Sharapova's greatest threats to her quarterfinal showdown lie in Radwanska and Wickmayer, while Clijsters' difficulties are in explosive Petkovic and the surprising Kirilenko. India's Sania Mirza sits in this quarter and she begins against German Kristina Barrois.

Quarterfinal: Sharapova v Clijsters

Semifinalist: Clijsters

Semifinal 1: Stosur v Schiavone – In a rematch of last year's final, expect Stosur to reverse the result. Schiavone won last year by winning the mental battle, but without the pressures of the final Stosur's game will see her through to her second consecutive final

Semifinal 2: Kvitova v Clijsters – A battle of the old vs the new, as hard hitting form player Kvitova takes on wise old head Clijsters. It's a tough assignment but Kvitova has a game that is aggressive, a demeanour that is calm and this could just see her sneak past Clijsters who is hamstrung by her lack of match play this year.

Final: Stosur v Kvitova – Stosur‘s difficulties relative to Kvitova are similar to her struggles against Sharapova. Both women stand over 6 feet, which helps negate the Stosur's greatest weapon – the kick serve. Just to make it worse, Kvitova is left handed and her forehand should stand up to Stosur's other key weapon, the inside out forehand. It may be a little early, may be a touch too far out, but Kvitova could just be the next French Open champion.