As Michael Stipe of R.E.M. once sang, "Everybody hurts, sometimes."
That would be the best way to describe the women's field at the Olympics. Lindsay Davenport has already dropped out, and there's some scuttlebutt that top seed Ana Ivanovic might be heading out, too. The Williams sisters have two healthy knees between them and there's no telling what else is ailing the top players.
Before anyone else drops out, though, here's my Olympics quarterfinal predictions for the ladies:
Patty Schnyder (13) vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (8): I was thinking Schnyder was going to take out Ivanovic anyway, if Ana decides to play. Being unhealthy against such a tricky player can be bad news. Radwanska could potentially be pushed by Francesca Schiavone or Vera Zvonareva, but I would still expect her to win. And she should be able to motor through Schnyder, too.
Serena Williams (4) vs. Elena Dementieva (5): Williams has some potentially tough opponents in her section, such as Sam Stosur and Alize Cornet, but if Serena's going to bother to make the trip this far, then you can better believe she means business, unless the knee gives out. Former medalist Dementieva will give her a go in the quarters, but not too much.
Victoria Azarenka (12) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova: Wait, where's Venus, you might be asking yourself. Well, rust and a pretty good player in Azarenka will do her in, I feel. I think Kuznetsova will cruise up to this point, and should be able to handle Azarenka in the quarters.
Dinara Safina (6) vs. Jelena Jankovic (2): Safina, aka Ms. Summer Hard Court '08, will keep her hot streak going, I feel, and even if she gets into trouble, expect her to fight her way out of it. Jankovic, Ms. Soon-to-Be-Most-Undeserving-Number-1-Ever, will breeze through the first few rounds before going out to Safina.
Here's what I think the semis will look like:
Williams over Radwanska: Experience wins out here. It'll be tough, but Serena will get her in three.
Safina over Kuznetsova: Svetlana becomes another bump on the Safina Express. I just don't think she has enough to stop her.
For the Bronze Medal match:
Kuznetsova over Radwanska: Kuznetsova does get to add her medal to the family's haul (her brother was an Olympic cyclist.)
And for the Gold:
Safina over Williams: I think it's a heroic effort to Serena to get this far with so little match play, but Safina's just playing unreal right now. Plus being healthy helps. And she has to win a Major title eventually, so why not here?
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.