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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One to watch: Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Photo Titled Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Bethanie Mattek-Sands

The eccentric dress sense of American Bethanie Mattek-Sands tells you she always likes to be the centre of attention.She has turned up on the tennis court wearing leopard-print outfits, a cowboy hat, toga-type attire and even a soccer kit.

So expect a similarly bizarre outfit when she takes on Samantha Stosur of Australia on Court 12 at midday today. But Mattek-Sands, ranked 57th in the world, would rather that people talk about her tennis than her dress sense.

She certainly impressed at Wimbledon last time around, reaching the fourth round: a career best in Grand Slams for the lady from Minnesota. On her way, Mattek-Sands produced a fine performance to knock out former finalist Marion Bartoli, before her progress was halted by eventual finalist Serena Williams.

Mattek-Sands has seen her season disrupted by injuries so has no recent form to talk about and a five-match winless run dating back to the first week in May is not the best preparation for a Grand Slam. But grass suits the 24-year-old’s game, which is based around powerful ground strokes.

Mattek-Sands tends to prefer the faster surfaces – she reached her only WTA Tour final in Quebec City on carpet in November, the same month in which she married insurance executive Justin Sands.

While it is clear that Mattek-Sands is very much the underdog against 18th seed Stosur, the Australian’s record in the Wimbledon singles in less than impressive.

The 25-year-old reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros last month but has won just three singles matches in six years at SW19, which is surprising given her serve and volley style. Her powerful serve, which is regularly fired in above 120mph, is a potent weapon, particularly in doubles competition.

Stosur and doubles partner Lisa Raymond have won two Grand Slam titles and finished as runners-up last year at the All England Club.

Stosur and Mattek-Sands have never met before but with Stosur’s indifferent record on grass in singles competition and Mattek-Sand’s unpredictability, this is likely to be an entertaining match with a good chance of an upset.

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