Top women tennis stars blasted
26/09/2005 11:58 - (SA)
Beijing - A quartet of leading women's seeds have copped heavy criticism for lethargic - or worse - non-performances at last week's China Open, an event blighted by a wave of pullouts and injuries.
With four former world number 1 players entered in the 32-woman draw at the Beijing tennis centre - all four with opening-round byes - the chances of survival of at least one into the final seemed assured.
But that's not how the week played out, with Lindsay Davenport pulling out before the tournament, Maria Sharapova quitting in a semi-final with injury and Venus and Serena Williams both failing to complete the week.
"I'm so disappointed that four WTA seeds have not finished the tournament and even pulled out as early as the second round," said tournament director Ekkehard Rathgeber.
"The withdrawals of seeds made me quite unhappy. Especially Venus and Serena Williams, they played just one match, with Venus wining hers."
The dissatisfied German warned: "We will take action next year to prevent the same thing happening."
Despite being four-times burned, Chinese sponsors are unlikely to close their chequebooks when it comes to attracting world-class talent to the tournament, which had no problems on the men's side a week earlier as world number 2 Rafael Nadal lifted the trophy.
"If we can invite top and second ranked players, we'll not choose the ninth or tenth," said the tournament boss, adding that world number 1 Sharapova bore no responsibility for her own injury pullout for a pectoral muscle problem and would surely be back on the VIP player guest list for 2006.