French Open 2012: Biggest Threats Heading into Wimbledon

Delores Smith-JohnsonCorrespondent IIIJune 9, 2012

French Open 2012: Biggest Threats Heading into Wimbledon

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    As another French Open comes to a close, the tennis world begins looking toward the next Grand Slam—Wimbledon.

    Everyone has begun evaluating current and past player performances to somehow determine who's going to win it all.

    On the men's side, as it has been for a while, most minds are probably thinking...Will it be Novak Djokovic? Will will see a rebound by Roger Federer? Can Rafael Nadal repeat his clay-court performance on the grass? Will this be the year for Andy Murray?

    On the women's side, the competitive lines are not so well-defined. However, there are some players are in the forefront of most everyone's minds as obvious candidates to win the championship.

    Maria Sharapova is on a tear.

    She just won the French Open singles title, completing her career Grand Slam. Victoria Azarenka had a tough time at the French; however, it's important to remember how well she has played and the championships she's won so far in 2012. She still has her eyes on even more championships.

    These are the most common conversations.

    Let's change gears for a moment, turning attention to this slideshow.

    Outside of the "main contenders on either side," who are the players who could quite possibly threaten the favorites?

    In this slideshow, we will look at the top three men and top three women.

    After reading, share your thoughts on the players discussed here and any favorites not listed.

David Ferrer

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    So many tennis lists and conversations include David Ferrer—the Spaniard with the game that keeps on giving.

    There are very few players who have the tenacity and will to win as Ferrer has.

    Just wrapping up the French Open, he successfully secured a semifinal berth. Unfortunately, the player on the other side of the net happened to be Rafael Nadal. Ferrer was taken out of contention in straight sets. 

    However, in any tournament, Ferrer is a dark horse—but not because of any physical weapon on the court. His major weapon is his mental game. No matter what he is faced with, he never gives up.

    With his never-give-up attitude (especially making players hit that extra shot that's not expected), maximizing his ability to take advantage of his opponent's shortcomings and his all-around court coverage, he has a serious shot at causing some grief for his fellow players.

    Ferrer's best performance at Wimbledon has been making the fourth round in 2006, 2010 and just last year in 2011.

    With how he has been playing this year, Ferrer may break his Wimbledon trend and move beyond the fourth round.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has the greatest probability of upsetting the scheme of things on the men's side at Wimbledon, as he does for most tournaments that he participates in.

    He's an agile, power player on the court. He has a strong serve, he goes after every ball and he can make the shots that leave everyone wondering, "How did he do that?"

    Just take a step back to Wimbledon 2011 when he faced Djokovic in the semifinals. Those two guys had some moments exchanging shots that left everyone in awe. It's a norm for Tsonga.

    Keep in mind, this spectacular performance against Djokovic came on the heels of defeating Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

    The key for Tsonga's threat to manifest at Wimbledon is simply consistency. Just take a look at the 2012 French Open and let's use the Djokovic match.

    There's no doubting that Tsonga should have removed Djokovic from the tournament. He had four match points slip through his fingers. Tsonga takes his game up a notch, but unfortunately for some reason he cannot maintain that level of play.

    As mentioned earlier, he has big weapons, strategically uses them for a moment and then, as if he runs out of fuel, cannot seal the deal in the some critical, big moments.

    If he can do this, then he could be a Wimbledon finalist.

Richard Gasquet

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    For anyone who doesn't recall, Richard Gasquet was a semifinalist at Wimbledon back in 2007. He defeated Andy Roddick (quarterfinals) before losing to Roger Federer in the semifinals. These two players were the No. 3 and No. 1 seeds, respectively, at the time.

    It's significant to note that Gasquet actually won his match against Roddick after losing the first two sets.

    The fact that he had such tournament depth at Wimbledon in the past coupled with how he's playing so far this year (just wrapping up a fourth-round finish at the French Open) gives merit to the idea that he could do well at Wimbledon again.

Kaia Kanepi

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    Like Richard Gasquet, it's important to recall that Kaia Kanepi has reached the latter rounds of Wimbledon.

    In 2010, she took out the then-No. 6 seed Samantha Stosur in the first round. She went on to win each subsequent match in straight sets before falling to Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals in three sets.

    Kanepi has transformed herself, physically and mentally, elevating her game. As a result, it's even more possible for her to repeat, if not exceed, her best performance at Wimbledon.

    She has momentum heading into Wimbledon, having made it to the the quarterfinals of the French Open.

    Kanepi is a player who may appear to be easily underestimated, but if she is, her opponent could very well be walking off the court in defeat.

Dominika Cibulkova

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    Dominika Cibulkova will be going into Wimbledon 2012 having played well this year. She just wrapped up a quarterfinal berth in the French Open.

    In addition, she had a very positive 2011 Wimbledon experience, having defeated the No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round before being defeated by Maria Sharapova (No. 5 seed) in the quarterfinals.

    Cibulkova is a relentless player. That in itself is such a weapon in that she frustrates her opponents. Her mental game is very similar to that of David Ferrer and Sara Errani.

    Add in the power that she plays with, and as she's shown, she becomes a very worthy adversary.

Serena Williams

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    As the world continues to discuss, Serena Williams did have a bad French Open. Losing in the first round was new to everyone, especially Serena.

    Let's reiterate though, this is Serena. All things are possible for her on the court. She's been down before and bounced right back.

    She's won four Wimbledon singles titles to date. She plays well on grass.

    Her icing on the cake is that she has the weapons (especially her serve) to help her win, even when her overall game is dialed down a notch or two.

    If Serena is playing, she is the biggest threat.