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post #1 of 152 (permalink) Old May 13th, 2002, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Serena & Venus in Rome

Women's Look Forward: Rome

Women's Look Forward: Week of May 13
Women's Look Forward: Rome


For only the second time this year, Venus and Serena Williams are in the same draw. And it isn't even a Slam.

It's perhaps a small consolation for the Italian Open, which finds itself without Martina Hingis and Monica Seles, who are stronger draws in Europe. But it's still a pretty impressive line-up; every healthy player in the Top Ten is here. The only absentees are Monica Seles (who pulled out with a stomach virus), Lindsay Davenport (still recovering from surgery) and Martina Hingis (still suffering from a damaged ligament).

It's an interesting list of absentees, because Hingis and Seles are both at their most threatening on clay. So is Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who won't be playing here either. Their absence renders the draw unusually wide-open. It is, in fact, an absolutely fascinating draw. Particularly since the courts are reported to be fairly fast this year. Let's look it over.

#1 seed Venus Williams, like all the other Top 8 seeds, gets a first round bye. In the second, she'll face either Anna Kournikova or a qualifier. Three years ago, this would have been a genuinely fascinating match-up; Kournikova was at her best on clay, and Venus her worst. Now, the real question is, can Kournikova even play well enough to get to the second round. The good news for her, of course, is that she still has nothing to defend, so losses can't hurt her.

Venus may have a more interesting time in the third round. The seed she's supposed to face is #14 Iroda Tulyaganova. Tulyaganova had two clay titles last year. This year, though, she has been struggling. And she opens against Tathiana Garbin, who doesn't have the best tools but who likes to try different things until she finds one her opponent can't answer. That's been working well for Garbin lately. In the second round, Tulyaganova will face Angeles Montolio or a qualifier. Montolio's ranking has roughly doubled in the past few months, but she also has a clay title; this is the sort of event where she can get back on track.


Next down the draw is #10 seed Meghann Shaughnessy, who is slipping fast. And while she opens against a qualifier, trouble lurks in the second round. Shaughnessy will have to face the winner of a match between Anne Kremer and Paola Suarez. Kremer hasn't really been right since her big green clay results, but she is Top 25. Suarez isn't, but that's because of injury; she's one of the best clay-courters out there. Based on results this year, both would seem to have the edge on Shaughnessy.

#5 seed Justine Henin, just off the biggest result of her career, has her own problems. She's probably played harder than ever before in her life, and her second round opponent will be tough: Either Francesca Schiavone, a good clay player who also happens to be Italian, or Fabiola Zuluaga, another good clay player though her ranking is way down due to injury. Henin is clearly better than either of them -- and better than Shaughnessy on clay -- but how much will she have left after playing fourteen sets in five days?

That particular problem may have hurt #3 seed Kim Clijsters at Berlin. But she's now had a week off. In that light, her draw looks pretty good. After her bye, she will face a qualifier or Elena Likhovtseva. Likhovtseva, after a long streak of bad results, finally did a bit better at Berlin, and if form holds, she's due for another good result or two -- but probably not that good.

If seeds held, Clijsters would face #16 Tatiana Panova in the third round. Panova might face trouble in the second, though, when she faces Henrieta Nagyova (who will start against wildcard Antonella Serra Zanetti). But Nayova also has played a lot lately (she just made the Warsaw final). This is a tough section to predict.

#9 seed Silvia Farina Elia starts against a qualifier, then another qualifier or Barbara Schett. That's an interesting match in all sorts of ways. Schett is one of the top unseeded players, and she's been playing doubles with Farina Elia. Both like clay. Schett has more power, Farina Elia is much steadier. A lot will depend on whether Schett has one of her good days.

Farina Elia is likely to face #8 Sandrine Testud in the Round of Sixteen, but Testud will have to contend with Emmanuelle Gagliardi first -- and Gagliardi is having one of her best years. She also has some resemblance to Testud, in that both sit there and slug it out, and like nothing better than to wear you down, down, down. Both like faster surfaces, too. The edge is to Testud, but it could be a fine match.

#6 seed Jelena Dokic won her first career title here; this is the event that turned her from a hovering-around-#25 player into a hovering-around-#10 player. She'd really like to do well again. It won't be easy. In the second round, she'll face either Anna Smashnova -- who has been so solid this year that she's in the Top Ten in the WTA Race -- or Adriana Serra Zanetti, who is Italian and also enjoying her best career year. After that, she'll face a rematch with #11 seed Daniela Hantuchova, who beat her at Berlin. That's if Hantuchova gets through; she'll start against Anastasia Myskina, another player who is having a hot year, then probably upset artist Magui Serna. This is truly one of the most wide-open sections in the draw.

#15 seed Tamarine Tanasugarn is one of the worst clay players in the draw. It may not matter in the first round, when she faces a qualifier. It will surely matter in the second, when she will face either Gala Leon Garcia or four-time champion Conchita Martinez. Neither of the Spaniards has been in very good form lately, so it appears that Leon Garcia actually might have a chance -- but either should have more than a chance against Tanasugarn.

The real question is, can any of them do anything with #4 seed Serena Williams? On clay, we'd choose Martinez at her peak over Serena as she is now. But Martinez isn't at her peak. It will be interesting, though, to see how Serena reacts to playing back-to-back 56-draw events. This is the heaviest schedule Serena has played in her life, and it's on her worst surface. The good news is, her opening match will be against Rita Grande (or a qualifier). Grande made the Top 25 last year, and she's Italian, but even though her game looks like it evolved for clay, her best results have been on faster surfaces and she has been in a bad slump anyway. Even though Serena has only the one clay final in her career, we'd say she's in good shape to reach the quarterfinal, and her chances for the semifinal don't look bad.

The bottom quarter, headed by #2 Jennifer Capriati and #7 Amelie Mauresmo, is full of question marks. Starting with Mauresmo's neck. She pulled out of Berlin, and it cost her her spot in the Top Ten. And she'll have a tough match in the second round -- either Nathalie Dechy, who just earned her way back into the second round, or Cristina Torrens Valero, yet another of those pesky clay-courters you really wish would play someone else. A healthy Mauresmo would brush them aside. But Mauresmo just hasn't been herself this year, and now she's hurting.

The other seed in this section, #12 Elena Dementieva, finally won a title in doubles, but she's way out of whack in singles. Luckily for her, she has a relatively easy draw. She'll open against Ai Sugiyama -- the sort of player likely to drive her nuts on any other surface, but Sugiyama, even though she relies on touch and ability to get balls back, doesn't like clay at all. After that, Dementieva would face either Magdalena Maleeva, another clay hater, or Martina Sucha, who seems to have cooled off lately. A funny little voice inside us says that Sucha has the best shot here, but rational thought says Dementieva, even in her present rather dubious form, is the clear favorite.

The next section is another really interesting one, since it contains #13 seed Patty Schnyder, the new and improved Janette Husarova, and the still-recovering but badly under-ranked Mary Pierce. Schnyder hasn't done anything since her big result at Charleston, but she's shown once again that she has the goods. She starts against Husarova, who will take advantage of any inconsistency. The winner will presumably face Pierce, who opens against a qualifier. It's another section where we wouldn't be able to guess the winner even if we were foolish enough to stick our necks out and try. Whoever comes through will almost certainly face #2 seed Jennifer Capriati, who will face a qualifier in the second round.

We can only say again what we said before: It's wide open. This is one of the toughest periods on the WTA tour: One week after a 56-draw on clay, the players face another 56-draw on clay. No other two-week period on the Tour is as wearing. If Berlin was unpredictable (and it was), Rome is even more so.

The Rankings. Rome is, of course, the last event before the Roland Garros seeds are announced, so this is big.

Had Jennifer Capriati done well enough at Berlin, she would have made #1. As it is, she's well back of Venus Williams -- but since neither has anything to defend, Capriati has a shot at passing Venus. It doesn't really matter much, though; they will be the top two seeds at Roland Garros.

It's the same in the contest for the #3 spot: It will be either Kim Clijsters or Serena Williams, with the other being #4. Clijsters has about a 90 point edge. But the winner here will almost certainly earn in excess of 400 points.

We also know who will get seeds #5-#7: Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, and Justine Henin. But not in that order. Hingis, since she isn't playing, is certain to fall to #8, and so will get the #7 seed. Henin starts 25 points behind Seles, but she's playing and Seles isn't. Henin won't have to do much to earn the #5 ranking and seed.

Jelena Dokic will be ranked #9 and will get the #8 seed.

Right now, the players in the next block, ranked #10-#13 and in line for the #9-#12 seeds, are Sandrine Testud, Amelie Mauresmo, Silvia Farina Elia, and Daniela Hantuchova. Of these, Mauresmo is in the most trouble; she has over 300 points to defend, meaning that she's barely ahead of #14 Meghann Shaughnessy in safe points. Testud is set -- indeed, she's all but guaranteed to stay in the Top 10. Farina Elia looks safe, too. But there is just a chance that Mauresmo or Hantuchova could fall out. The leading candidates to supplant them are Shaughnessy and Elena Dementieva.

The next "big spot" is the #18 ranking, good for the #16 seed. Right now, it's Iroda Tulyaganova's, but Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario has enough points to defend that it's a virtual tie. Candidates to displace them include Patty Schnyder, Anna Smashnova, Barbara Schett, Tatiana Panova, Magdalena Maleeva, Anne Kremer, and Daja Bedanova, all of whom are within 100 points of Tulyaganova.

Amanda Coetzer is currently #34, in line for the #32 seed. Coetzer has nothing to defend, but isn't playing either. That means that nearly any player who got direct entry into the draw has a chance to earn that last seed. The leading candidates: Rita Grande, Cristina Torrens Valero, Henrieta Nagyova, Martina Sucha, Magui Serna, or Janette Husarova.
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post #2 of 152 (permalink) Old May 13th, 2002, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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American tennis star Venus Williams shakes hands with former Italian soccer legend and member of Parliament Gianni Rivera during a tennis exhibition in Rome's central Piazza del Popolo, Monday, May 13, 2002

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American tennis star Venus Williams talks to a child during a tennis exhibition in Rome's central Piazza del Popolo, Monday, May 13, 2002. Williams is in Rome to participate in the Italian Open.

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American tennis star Venus Williams returns the ball during a tennis exhibition in Rome's central Piazza del Popolo, Monday, May 13, 2002. Williams is in Rome to participate in the Italian Open tennis tournament

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post #5 of 152 (permalink) Old May 13th, 2002, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Kournikova Sets Up Clash with Venus Williams
Mon May 13, 2:17 PM ET
By Eleanor Preston

ROME (Reuters) - Anna Kournikova (news - profile - photos) set up a second round clash with world number one Venus Williams (news - web sites) at the Italian Open with a 6-3 6-3 win over Marta Marrero in her opening match in Rome.


"It's definitely never easy to play against Venus," said Kournikova, "She's obviously a very tough player. I have nothing to lose so I'm just going to go out there, try and play my best game and see how well I can do."

The win over Marrero will be a welcome boost for Kournikova. Now at a lowly 68 in the rankings, the Russian needed a wildcard to get into the main draw here and the victory over the Spaniard was only her second win in her last seven tournaments.

As one of the top eight seeds, Wimbledon (news - web sites) and U.S. Open (news - web sites) champion Williams received a bye into the second round.

Mary Pierce (news - profile - photos) clawed her way past Swiss youngster Marie-Gaiane Mikaelian to seal a place in the second round.

Pierce, despite looking unsettled and ill-at-ease for much of the match against the feisty 18-year-old, took more than two hours to eke out a 6-3 5-7 6-4 win.

The 2000 French Open (news - web sites) champion has been struggling with a stomach injury of late in addition to her chronic back problems, and has fallen as to 172 in the World Rankings.

She is only playing in the Tier 1 event thanks to protected ranking which allows players with long term injuries entry into events.

Away from the Court Centrale, day one of the women's event in Rome saw a Spanish double as Virginia Ruano Pascal and Magui Serna both scored straight sets wins.

Ruano Pascal beat her countrywoman Angeles Montolio 7-6 6-3, while Serna took care of Italian wildcard Maria Elena Camerin, 6-3 6-4. Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva stormed past Australian Open (news - web sites) quarter-finalist Martina Sucha 6-0 7-6.

The day's only upset was 10th seed Meghann Shaughnessy's loss to Sweden's Asa Svensson. Svensson secured a 6-3 6-3 victory over the American.

Two other seeds, Tatiana Panova and Iroda Tulyaganova, both came through unscathed.

Panova, seeded 16, battled past America's Jennifer Hopkins 4-6 6-4 6-0, while 14th seed Tulyaganova beat local wildcard Tathiana Garbin 6-3 6-2.

There was better news for home players when Italy's Rita Grande came back from a set and a break down to beat Czech qualifier Klara Koukalova 2-6 6-4 6-1.

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post #6 of 152 (permalink) Old May 13th, 2002, 09:16 PM
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awww. Venus looks so cute!

thanks for the pics VS

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post #8 of 152 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2002, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
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Kournikova faces Venus Williams in Rome

By ANDREW DAMPF
Associated Press Writer
May 14, 2002


ROME (AP) -- Anna Kournikova tries again.

She plays Venus Williams on Tuesday in the Italian Open and has yet to beat the top-seeded American in seven matches.

``It will give me a good sense of where I am and what I have to work on,'' Kournikova said Monday after defeating Spain's Marta Marrero 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of this $1.2 million clay-court tuneup for the French Open.

For most of last year, Kournikova was sidelined with a foot injury, and the 20-year-old Russian is still trying to find her game. She lost in the first round of four straight tournaments earlier this year.

``I did play her a couple times already this year, and we had some pretty close matches,'' Kournikova said. ``So I do have a little idea how to play against her. And it's her first match here, so you never know.''

Kournikova, who has never won a professional tournament, was ranked No. 8 before she was injured in February of last year. She has since slipped to No. 68.

Williams is entering her seventh week at No. 1 and already has won four titles this year.

The top eight seeded players, including Venus's sister Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and defending champion Jelena Dokic, had first-round byes.

Capriati, seeded second, plays Slovenia's Maja Matevzic on Tuesday.

The Williams sisters are also entered in the doubles draw, which features 45-year-old Martina Navratilova playing with Natalia Zvereva.

Another former top 10 player making her way back from injury also won Monday -- Mary Pierce defeated Switzerland's Marie-Gaiane Mikaelian 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

The Canadian-born Pierce, who lives in the United States and plays for France, used a big forehand and strong serve to overcome her otherwise erratic play and beat the 18-year-old Swiss.

Pierce's ranking has dropped to No. 172 because of injuries since her French Open victory in 2000. She was in the draw thanks to a WTA rule that helps injured players enter tournaments when they return to the tour.

The 27-year-old Pierce won the Italian Open in 1997 and was No. 3 in the world less than two years ago.

``I'm working very hard to move up in the rankings,'' she said. ``I made a lot of unforced errors today, but I'm still improving. But I feel like certain parts of my game are coming back.''

****

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post #9 of 152 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2002, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Italian Open Tuesday preview
By David Law, Tennis Radio Network
May 13, 2002


Anna Kournikova says she’s looking forward to seeing how far her game has come since the stress fracture of her foot kept her out for most of last year, and against Venus Williams, the world number one, she will find out.

Kournikova and Williams meet in the night match at the Foro Italico on Tuesday in what promises to be a fascinating encounter. If history is anything to go by, the Russian is going to have a tough time of it. She hasn’t won any of their previous seven meetings, and only taken two sets.

But her 6-3, 6-3 win over Marta Marrero, the Spaniard who reached the French Open quarterfinals two years ago, suggested that she’s moving in the right direction, and after that first round match, she talked with confidence of the task facing her.

“She (Venus) is obviously a great player, we don’t have to talk about that, but why go on court if you don’t feel or think that you can win?” said Kournikova.

“I really have nothing to lose. I’m just going to go and play my game, try to bring to life whatever I’ve been working on, and see what happens. That will give me a good sense of where I am and what I have to work on.”

With four titles to her name already this year, Williams doesn’t need to work on much at all. She isn’t at her best on clay though, and Kournikova will have few better opportunities than this.

Second seed Jennifer Capriati also begins her campaign on day two, with a first round match against Maja Matevzic. The American will hope to go a couple of steps further than in her last two clay court outings on the Sanex WTA Tour, after reaching semifinals in Charleston and Berlin.

Anna Smashnova, a semifinalist in Berlin last week, opens up play on Campo Centrale against Adriana Serra Zanetti of Italy.

On the outside courts, Pacific Life Open Indian Wells champion Daniela Hantuchova meets Anastasia Myskina, while four-time Italian Open champion Conchita Martinez faces Gala Leon Garcia.

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Go Venus & Serena!!!!!!!!!!!!



Make the FINALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Go Venus!!!!!!!!!! Beat Anna!!!!!!!!!!

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post #13 of 152 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2002, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Get well soon V!!!!!

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post #14 of 152 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2002, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Venus Williams pulls out of Kournikova match due to wrist injury

May 14, 2002


ROME (AP) -- Venus Williams pulled out of her match against Anna Kournikova at the Italian Open Tuesday night because of a wrist injury, with the stadium already half-full for the highly-awaited encounter.

The world's top-ranked player told the crowd she injured her right wrist while picking up her bag at practice this week. The 21-year-old American appeared on court and apologized to the crowd minutes before the match was to begin.

Williams, entering her seventh straight week at No. 1, was also entered in the doubles draw with her sister Serena Williams in this $1.22 million event.

Kournikova played Lilia Osterloh of the United States instead.

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