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Top women contenders' strengths, weaknesses

Latest update : 2009-05-25

Tennis seems to course through the veins of Dinara Safina as well as Venus and Serena Williams: the female top three share the same powerful serve and indomitable spirit. But France's Amelie Mauresmo has got back into top shape just in time.

REUTERS - A brief look at the strengths and weaknesses of the leading contenders for the women's title at the French Open which begins on Sunday (prefix number denotes ranking):

1-Dinara Safina (Russia): Like her brother Marat, she has a habit of destroying rackets when the going gets tough. But has an indomitable spirit which is tough to crack. Saved match points in successive matches en route to the 2008 final and back-to-back triumphs in Rome and Madrid prove she will be the one to beat.

2-Serena Williams (U.S.): Immensely powerful off both flanks and with a serve like a mule's kick, Serena is extremely fast around the court and does not really have a weak point. But question marks hang over her form as she has not won a single match on clay this season.

3-Venus Williams (U.S.): Taller and less muscular than her younger sister, Venus possesses a serve that would do her proud on the men's tour. Her two-handed backhand is one of her outstanding assets but her record at Roland Garros is nothing to write home about.

4-Elena Dementieva (Russia): A consistent baseliner who was often undone by her poor service action, although she has dramatically improved in that department over the past two years. Prone to lapses in concentration but plays with great power from the back.

5-Jelena Jankovic (Serbia): Her two-handed backhand down the line is her master stroke but her recurrent fitness and injury problems could pose problems for her on the energy-sapping surface.

7-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia): Although she has no major weaknesses, the 2004 U.S. Open champion lacks the sparkle that could take her to the next level. Her great speed on court and her forehand -- with a lot of topspin -- are her major assets.

8-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) - Very aggressive from the baseline, the defending champion is always looking for a winner, especially with a powerful flat forehand. She has struggled to do well since her triumph 12 months ago and sometimes lacks mental strength and needs to improve her first-serve percentage. Coming off a knee injury.

16-Amelie Mauresmo (France): Arguably has the best single-handed backhand on the tour, she seems to be running into form in the nick of time and climbed back into the top 20 by reaching the Madrid semi-finals. A possible surprise at Roland Garros, where she will have much less pressure than usual.

Date created : 2009-05-22