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Michael Taylor 30th Aug 2009 - 11:34

Jankovic the threat to the Williams’ domination

Jelena Jankovic produced some of the best tennis of her career as she marched through to last year's US Open final and she now looks capable of going one better this time around.

The Serbian world number five thrived on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows in 2008, rarely finding herself in trouble despite having to fight her way past some of the best players on the planet.

She may have eventually come unstuck against a magnificent Serena Williams in the final but she showed more than enough to suggest that she can win the US Open in the future and, more importantly, genuinely challenge the Williams sisters.

And this could be the occasion where it all comes together, if she maintains the standard that brought her an impressive tournament win two weeks ago in Cincinnati.

The best news for Jankovic fans is that while she potentially poses the biggest threat to the Williams sisters her early season lack of consistency means she can still be grabbed at a massive 12/1.

My biggest negative about backing the Serbian, just like backing anybody else in the field, is that should Serena head to New York with her best stuff then surely nobody can beat her.

Unlike Venus, Serena is showing little sign of slowing down when it comes to picking up big titles, like the Australian Open and Wimbledon ones she has claimed already this year.

She may only be ranked number two in the world but nobody is under any illusion - when she turns up to tournaments she's the favourite, and if she played more events she'd be world number one.

So it comes as little surprise that the former three time winner and defending champion is a clear 15/8 favourite here - I'm just hoping she has stinker as I do with Venus (4/1).

The one player I really do hope can show off her best stuff is the current world number one and first seed Dinara Safina who, despite multiple tournament wins this year, has ultimately had a bad year.

Not one person can deny she deserves a grand slam title but it seems anytime she gets close, she fails - she's already gained the reputation of being a choker and I hope she can dispel that at some stage.

If she can get over her mental block this time then you get a very generous 10/1 - and how many number one seeds start a grand slam at that price?

The other grand slam champion from this year's French Open, Svetlana Kuznetsova is likely to provide punters with another good run for their money but I am slightly reluctant to gamble looking at her draw and past record on hard courts.

A potential last-16 encounter with Caroline Wozniacki looks tough but it was the potential quarter against Dementieva and semi against Safina or Jankovic that made me think long and hard before rejecting her at 16/1.

The final pair of players I reluctantly wrote off when looking through the betting were returning duo Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova.

Clijsters, the 2005 US Open winner, verbally announced her comeback from retirement earlier in the year but it wasn't until August that she made her way back on to the circuit.

It was quite the comeback though as she swept past Bartoli, Schnyder and Kuznetsova before being edged out by Safina in the quarter-finals.

Sharapova's re-emergence wasn't quite as dramatic as Clijsters' but her rehabilitation from injury does seem to be coming to fruition after a number of solid tournament results over the past months - including a final appearance at the recent event in Toronto.

My reason for not investing quite simply is that they are too short (Clijsters 8/1, Sharapova 10/1).

They may be looking strong and healthy but neither has registered a tournament win all season - this is a fact that just cannot be overlooked.

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