Balanced field keeps tourney wide open s
March 5 2003
By Leighton Ginn
The Desert Sun
INDIAN WELLS -- Kim Clijsters, the top seed in the women’s draw at the Pacific Life Open, could avenge her opening-round loss from a year ago if things work out for her and Nathalie Dechy.
A possible Dechy and Clijsters match is one of the interesting scenarios within the brackets of the tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
In a tournament without Serena and Venus Williams, the field is balanced with no player having a clear-cut advantage. The women’s main draw begins today with the top-32 seeds getting a bye.
Joining Clijsters and Dechy in the top half of the bracket are defending champion Daniela Hantuchova, Lisa Raymond, Amanda Coetzer, Conchita Martinez and Jelena Dokic.
The bottom half of the draw appears to be more difficult, featuring Americans Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Meghann Shaughnessy and Alexandra Stevenson. Joining them are Amelie Mauresmo, Elena Dementieva, Iva Majoli, Elena Bovina and Clarisa Fernandez.
Last year, Dechy upset Clijsters, the top seed a year ago, 6-2, 7-5. It wasthe fifth time in Tier I history, dating back to 1980, that a No. 1 seed lost her opening match.
Dechy, the No. 15 seed, has had a history of scoring big victories at Indian Wells. In 2001, she defeated 10th-seeded Aranxta Sanchez Vicario in the third round, and she beat eighth-seeded Anna Kournikova in the third round in 2000.
Another possible quarterfinal matchup in the top half of the bracket could pit ironwoman Ai Sugiyama againstresurgent Chanda Rubin.
Sugiyama is coming off a grueling championship Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz., where she won four matches in one day to take the singles and doubles title.
Rubin was impressive the last time she was in Southern California when she won at Manhattan Beach. She defeated No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 5 Dokic and No. 9 Davenport en route to the title. Her victory over Williams snapped a 32-match winning streak.
In the bottom half, one quarterfinal could match Davenport against Bovina, both are listed at 6-2 1/2 making them two of the taller players on tour.
Davenport has won five titles at Indian Wells, including singles title in 1997 and 2000. Bovina had a breakthrough tournament at Indian Wells in 2001, when she defeated No. 6 Martinez in the second round and Dechy to reach the quarterfinals before falling to Clijsters.
Following the tournament, Bovina, now ranked 17th, broke into the top-100 for the first time.
Another potential matchup is Stevenson and Dementieva in the third round.
Dementieva had a breakthrough tournament in 2000, when she reached the semifinals. Later that year, Dementieva reached the U.S. Open semifinals and won the silver medal at the Olympics.
Stevenson burst onto the scene in 1999 by reaching the Wimbledon semifinals but has struggled since.
This year, she has played solid tennis, reaching the semifinals of Scottsdale and is ranked 26th.
The winner of a possible Stevenson-Dementieva match could meet Capriati in the quarterfinals.