Williams sisters face stiff competition

The French Open, the second grand slam of the year, starts on Monday.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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It's where the Serena Slam started last year, it's where Gustavo Kuerten is dominant and it's also the only grand slam that the greatest tennis player of all time Pete Sampras hasn't won - the French Open. This second grand slam of the year starts on Monday. The men's event as always is likely to be dominated by the armada of Spanish and South American players and the women's draw could see the Williams sisters being tested, especially by the girls from Belgium. Serena Williams, the world number one, has had an amazing 12 months since she started her saga of the Serena Slam at the French Open last year. Now she has a chance to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988-89 to win a fifth consecutive major title. But in the last few months she's not seemed as invincible as before - after starting the year with 21 straights wins, Serena lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne and to Amelie Mauresmo in the space of one month. With Venus being short on match practice, Serena's biggest threat could come from the Belgian contingent of Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters - they have won the last two major titles on clay and along with Amelie Mauresmo they've proved that they can match the Williams in the power department. In the men's draw, Andre Agassi, soon to be a father for the second time, remains one of the favourites. He recently became the oldest player to be ranked at number one. The 8-time grand slam winner however will have plenty of competition from top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt, 2002 French Open finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero and 3-time winner Gustavo Kuerten. The Argentine brigade could however give the Spaniards a run for their money, with four of them making the semis of the Hamburg Open last week. 21-year old Guillermo Coria, named after Guillermo Vilas, won that event and he was also a runner up at the Monte Carlo masters.