Women's Look Forward: Acapulco, Scottsdale
Women's Look Forward: Acapulco, Scottsdale
What a difference a continent makes!
Last week at Bogota, Conchita Martinez Granandos was a seed. This week at Acapulco, she's not only not seeded, she didn't even make the main draw. Paola Suarez was the top seed at Bogota; here, she's #3. Cristina Torrens Valero was the #3 seed at Bogota; here, she's unseeded.
The field still isn't breathtaking, but it's respectable, and it's mostly good clay players. The one real exception is the #1 seed, Elena Dementieva, here no doubt in an attempt to finally win that first singles title. She isn't a bad clay player, but she seems to prefer modern surfaces.
#2 seed Amanda Coetzer, though, likes clay a lot, even if she did make the Memphis final indoors. #3 seed Paola Suarez likes clay even more. #4 Katarina Srebotnik denies being a clay player, but her results say otherwise. #5 Magui Serna's best surface is arguably grass, but clay is where she won her only title. #6 Tina Pisnik has a good clay game, and #7 Emilie Loit seems to like things slow as well. We're not sure why #8 Emmanuelle Gagliardi chose to play here; her best surface may be Rebound Ace -- but she may have signed up because she knew she would get in.
Good clay floaters include Bogota winner Fabiola Zuluaga, Bogota finalist Anabel Medina Garrigues, Flavia Pennetta, and (if she ever breaks out of her slump) Cristina Torrens Valero. Also fond of clay, though possibly not major threats right now, are Marta Marrero, Mariana Diaz-Oliva, Maria Emilia Salerni, Patricia Wartusch, Petra Mandula, and Rossana Neffa-de los Rios.
Making her return to competitive tennis is Joanette Kruger, who hasn't played a WTA event since Antwerp 2002 and hasn't won a WTA match since Gold Coast 2002. What sort of shape she's in we don't know, but clay is a good surface for her.
Unfortunately, the draw for Acapulco still hasn't been published by the WTA or any other source we know of, so we can't pick highlight matches. But with all those clay names, the competition should be pretty intense.
Still, the field at Acapulco is nothing to compare with the Main Event of the week, Scottsdale. It's very strong at the top, with Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, and Lindsay Davenport taking the top three seeds. All seeds are Top 20 players. Then -- well, from there it gets a little strange. The qualifying had only 30 women sign up, so #1 seed Virginie Razzano and #2 Yoon Jeong Cho were to get byes. Then Cho was promoted to the main draw, which means that Evgenia Koulikovskaya was promoted to the #9 seed and got a bye. But, there being no one to replace Koulikovskaya, that mean that Koulikovskaya's first round opponent, Andrea Remynse, also got a bye -- despite being unranked. And so she advanced to face -- Koulikovskaya. That weak draw also let world #970 Nancy Loeffler-Caro, who in 11 events has earned 4.5 points and no quality points, get into the qualifying draw. Of course, Stephanie Foretz double-bagelled her. But it's strange to think that Scottsdale qualifying had a player who would have had to play pre-qualifying at the Minnesota Challenger (and, based on history, probably would have been bagelled there, too).
But chances are that you don't worry too much about what happens in the deep recesses of qualifying. You want to know about the big show. And it is big, with players like Alexandra Stevenson, Memphis winner Lisa Raymond, Ai Sugiyama, Silvia Farina Elia, and Meghann Shaughnessy unseeded. Although player down to about #60 got direct entry, there is only one really weak link in the field: Mirjana Lucic, constantly struggling to make it back to the Top 200, is here as a wildcard. And this is hardcourts, so it's unlikely that the clay-loving Lucic will do much.
But let's take a look at the draw, seed by seed.
#1 Serena Williams still hasn't lost this year, and it doesn't look like she'll be starting in the near future. As one of the top four seeds, she gets a first round bye. After that, she faces either Alexandra Stevenson or a qualifier. Stevenson is a friend of Serena's -- perhaps her best friend on the Tour -- but she's in horrible form, and Serena will run her to death.
On paper, #2 seed Kim Clijsters has things rather tougher. She too starts with a bye, then either Tatiana Panova or Cara Black. Panova is Top 25, and she runs everything down -- but Clijsters has good wheels, too, and she has power. She may spend more time on the court than Serena, but she looks good to come through.
#3 seed Davenport's life might be a little more complicated, depending on how energetic she's feeling. After her bye, she will face Ai Sugiyama or a qualifier. Davenport is the sort of player Sugiyama likes to pick on -- big, strong, slow, and prone to errors. But Davenport is much better than the players of that type (e.g. Mary Pierce) Sugiyama usually picks on. It's not likely to be close. But if Davenport is off enough that it is close, it could be more than close.
#4 seed Jelena Dokic's success is all a matter of timing. Her opponent in the second round will be either Daja Bedanova or Meghann Shaughnessy -- both ranked well below their peaks of a year or two ago. In 2001, Shaughnessy made the final here. In 2002, she went nowhere. This year, she's showing life again -- enough that she might really be able to threaten Dokic. Bedanova hasn't shown any life at all -- but she goes into slumps for no apparent reason, and breaks out of them for no apparent reason. Her match with Shaughnessy could be good or terrible; so could the winner's match with Dokic. Certainly you can't count any of these players out.
#5 Chanda Rubin is the first seed to face an opening-round opponent. In the first round, it's Jill Craybas, one of the lowest-ranked players in the draw. The flip side is, she's been playing, and Rubin hasn't played since the Pan Pacific. But with a 7-3 record this year and three Top 25 wins, Rubin looks ready. She'll face a sterner test in the second round, either Barbara Schett or Laura Granville. Based on recent form, Granville would seem the better bet; she's now ranked higher and she's climbing rather than falling. But how will she react to her bad loss at Memphis?
#6 Eleni Daniilidou is just in from Dubai, and she doesn't like hardcourts. But neither does her first round opponent Vera Zvonareva. The second round could be much tougher for the winner: She'll face Yoon Jeong Cho or a qualifier. And Cho thumped Zvonareva at Memphis. She is clearly much happier than either Daniilidou or Zvonareva on hardcourts, and she's improving steadily.
#7 Elena Bovina is looking at a very Italian diet: She opens against Francesca Schiavone, then either Silvia Farina Elia (the top unseeded player) or Slovak Janette Husarova (probably the former; Farina Elia has been slumping, but Husarova isn't doing to well either and hasn't been able to play lately). Bovina has clearly shown her hardcourt chops lately; she should do well.
#8 seed Nathalie Dechy has perhaps the best draw of anyone except Serena (if you ignore the fact that she's in Serena's quarter). She opens against Lucic. After that, it's Lisa Raymond or a qualifier. Theoretically, Raymond should be a threat. But she will be tired after her Memphis title, and this court is slower and more suited to Dechy (who made the semifinal last year) than to Raymond.
The Rankings. Ironically, Scottsdale hardly matters to most of the top seeds there. Serena is defending champion, but she could stop playing for the next two months and still be #1. Clijsters and Davenport were both injured at this time last year. The player who is really going to suffer is Jennifer Capriati, last year's finalist, who made the Top 5 last week at Dubai but will give the spot back this week. She will certainly fall to #6. There is a real chance that she'll fall to #7 if Davenport does well.
Guaranteed to fall is last year's semifinalist Martina Hingis, who just rejoined the Top 30 but now will leave it for good and all. There is a good chance that the other semifinalist, Dechy, will fall out of the Top 20.
Acapulco winner Katarina Srebotnik, who already failed to defend points at Bogota, is also likely to slide, perhaps out of the Top 40.
Good Luck: RENA, MATTEK, HAYNES, GULLICKSON, HARKLEROAD, RUBIN, GRANVILLE, LEE-WATERS, SCHNYDER, JACKSON, PERRY, KING, SUGIYAMA, PIERCE, TULYAGANOVA, IVANOVIC, KUZNETSOVA, MOLIK, DANIILIDOU, MEDINA GARRIGUES, PETROVA, PENNETTA, GOLOVIN, PEER, LI, SCHIAVONE, RAZZANO, ZVONAREVA, SPREM, SREBOTNIK, VINCI, & SAFINA