Serena plays three consecutive tournaments for first time since 2004
By Abe Kuijl
Who's playing often (beside Jelena Jankovic) … Serena Williams.
FROM THE ZURICH OPEN – Maria Sharapova spoke to the press at the Hallenstadion in Zurich on Sunday, announcing her withdrawal from the event due to her lingering shoulder injury. When Serena Williams went down to Elena Dementieva in the Moscow final, winning only two games in the last two sets, and with her left leg heavily strapped, more bad news seemed to be on its way. But despite the minor injury and the fact that she has played seven matches in two weeks in Stuttgart and Moscow, Serena arrived in Zurich as planned for the season’s final Tier I tournament. The last time she played three consecutive events was in early 2004, when she featured in Miami, Charleston and Amelia Island.
Knowing that the European fall circuit isn’t exactly her favorite part of the year, and considering she hasn’t played too many events in the indoor arenas in the past, Serena’s current stretch of events shows that she is really making an effort in returning to the top of the rankings again. She is all but certain to make the Sony Ericsson WTA Championships in Madrid, no matter how she performs in Zurich this week.
Serena will open against homeplaying Patty Schnyder, who after Martina Hingis called it a season and Timea Bacsinszky’s loss to Alona Bondarenko on Monday is now the lone Swiss player in the draw. Serena went down to Schnyder in their last meeting earlier this season, but that was on clay in Rome, in her one and only lead-up event to Roland Garros.
Even though Schnyder will have the crowd behind her, a Serena Williams with seven matches under her belt has to be favored, especially on a fast indoor court.
The draw hasn’t been kind to Williams, as she is in the same half as Luxembourg winner Ana Ivanovic; red-hot Tatiana Golovin, who got a set off Justine Henin in the Stuttgart final; Svetlana Kuznetsova, whom she lost to in Stuttgart but bested in Moscow, and, Dementieva. If Lena D. beats Francesca Schiavone in her opener, she’ll likely face Serena again in the second round.
The top half of draw features the seeds Henin, Jankovic, Daniella Hantuchova and Amelie Mauresmo, with Nicole Vaidisova a potential threat to make the semis. The 18-year-old Czech routed Katarina Srebotnik, 6-4, 6-2 in her first-round match and will now face a struggling Jankovic, who is still playing an inexplicable week-in, week-out schedule, even though she keeps citing she feels exhausted. The Serbian iron woman retired in Bangkok last week after playing in Stuttgart the week before, and is on the entry list of Quebec, a small Tier III event, the week before the championships. She played in Bali and Beijing after the US Open, too. J.J. must really like those frequent-flier miles.
Mauresmo opens against Eleni Daniilidou, in what is an excellent draw for the returning Frenchwoman. Even though she lost early in her first tournaments after her three-month break in Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow, she was playing excellent tennis at times. Slowly but surely the former No.1 is working her way back into form and when she gets a win under her belt this week, she might as well advance to the semis, and face Henin. The Belgian is getting more dominant by the week, and is the overwhelming favorite to win her ninth title of the season here in Zurich. Henin has already secured the year-end No.1 ranking after winning in Stuttgart.
Notable results on Monday: Golovin bested Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-4 and Michaella Krajicek was too solid for Sania Mirza, 6-1, 6-4. Krajicek could next face Marion Bartoli, who defeated the Dutchwoman in the Wimbledon quarters, coming from a set down. Bartoli takes on Shuai Peng in her first round match.
Simply Stunning, Simply Serena
57 Consecutive Weeks as World #1
Olympic Gold Medalist ('00 Doubles w/ Venus)