10 Mar 2004
Kleybanova Defends Banana Bowl
TitleAlisa Kleybanova returns to the scene of her biggest triumph to date when the 34th Banana Bowl takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil next week. The fourteen-year-old Russian dominated proceedings last year and lifted her first Grade A title, which she used as a springboard to a year-end No.3 ranking. She will be a big favourite to defend her crown.
All four semifinalists from last year return so Kleybanova can expect competition from 2003 runner-up Krysty Marcio, USA, Hungaryís Agnes Szavay and Serbia and Montenegroís Vojislava Lukic, especially given that Marcio and Szavay have already pocketed ITF Junior titles this year.
New Zealandís Marina Erakovic, who has established herself in the top 20, was narrowly beaten by Kleybanova in the Yucatan Cup and could prove a threat along with Ana Jerman, of Slovenia, and Russiaís Evgeniya Rodina , who have both reached two finals, and both won once, of the preceding South American tournaments. Brazilís Jenifer Widjaja has a similar record and the added advantage of playing in her home town.
One of the boys will be celebrating their first Grade A title, as none of them have previously earned that distinction. Bruno Rosa, of Brazil and Argentinaís Juan-Pablo Amado reached the semifinals last year and are fancied to go one step further. Amado won his first ITF Junior title in Argentina last week, while Rosa will not lack for support in front of his home crowd. Another Argentine, Juan-Martin Del Potro, has also been successful already in 2004 while Italian Fabio Fognini, who reached the last eight at the Australian Open and Spaniard Pablo Andujar-Alba, Yucatan Cup finalist, will be hoping to transfer their form to the clay courts.
A round-up of all the dayís news will appear on the website.
Vassilissa is my girl............