PDA

View Full Version : Women's Look Forward: Week of February 16


tennisIlove09
Feb 16th, 2004, 02:21 AM
Women's Look Forward: Week of February 16
Posted on 2/15/2004 at 7:06 PM

Women's Look Forward: Antwerp, Memphis, Hyderabad



This is not the busiest week on the WTA calendar. Quite. It falls short by all of two players.

There are only two weeks on the entire calendar when the WTA schedules two events: The week before the Australian Open, and this week. That week in January features 92 players in main draw action (28 at Sydney, 32 each at Canderra and Hobart). This week, because one of the events is a Tier III, the total is only 90.

The interesting thing is that the events in these weeks have historically been strong. Sydney is consistently one of the toughest events on the Tour. And Antwerp -- well, it's the biggest event in Belgium. And that of course means that it's natural for both Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne to play there.

Throw in Venus Williams, who was supposed to compete, and you would have had one of the better Tier II fields. Though a rather unbalanced one, assuming Venus were healthy; #1 Henin-Hardenne and #3 Venus were in the top half, while the next player after #2 seed Clijsters in the bottom half was Elena Dementieva, and she's not doing at all well this year.

But then Venus pulled out with a knee injury. Her points from the title are already off, so this won't hurt her ranking further -- but it's a disturbing sign.

And with her out, the rest of the field looks a lot like Paris last week: Jelena Dokic isn't playing, but Patty Schnyder is the #5 seed, Francesca Schiavone #6, Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi #7, and Silvia Farina Elia #8; they were respectively #3, #5, #6, and #7 at Paris. The #9 seed, now that Venus is out, is Magdalena Maleeva. Magui Serna, the #8 seed at Paris, is next in line. Also back for Paris encores are Karolina Sprem and Dinara Safina (neither of whom had to qualify this time), Emilie Loit, Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, Tina Pisnik, Petra Mandula, Eleni Daniilidou, and Mary Pierce. Most of the other players here are women who couldn't get into Paris directly; the major exception is Magdalena Maleeva, who is just in from the Pan Pacific -- and who was originally supposed to meet Venus in the second round in what would have been a very interesting match. You almost wonder if Venus withdrew after she saw that she would meet Maleeva in the second round; it's worth remembering that Maleeva has beaten Venus twice on carpet in recent years: At Nice 2001 and at Moscow 2002. Venus returned the favor at the 2002 Australian Open -- but that wasn't carpet. The irony is that Venus's withdrawal put Maleeva in a seeded spot -- but arguably a worse draw, since she now has to deal with Mary Pierce in the first round. The real beneficiary is Patty Schnyder, promoted into Venus's place, who now has a first round bye and then faces one of two qualifiers.

The two wildcards are Belgians (surprise, surprise); Els Callens deservedly earned one wildcard, and they gave Elke Clijsters the other (though she may have to withdraw due to injury). Since Elke opens against a qualifier, expect her to get clobbered (this follows from the fact that you can expect her to get clobbered if she plays anyone) -- though the malicious part of us rather wants her to win, by injury if need be, just so that she can get clobbered even worse by sister Kim in the second round.

Although the draw is not really particularly impressive (a quarter of the players with direct entry are ranked below #50, and that's weak for a Tier II), there are some pretty good matches even so. #7 seed Smashnova-Pistolesi, who doesn't like indoors much and who lost to Tatiana Golovin last week, opens against an even more impressive youngster, Karolina Sprem. We'll also have an interesting contest between wildcard Callens, who is better than her ranking on fast courts, and slippery Frenchwoman Emilie Loit.

In the bottom half, we could see a rematch between Francesca Schiavone and Dinara Safina in the second round. We'll also see Elena Dementieva have to face either Tina Pisnik or Petra Mandula in the second round -- a stiff challenge, given Dementieva's recent form. #9 seed Maleeva has the toughest opening match of all, since she faces Pierce, with the winner facing Daniilidou (admittedly Daniilidou isn't much of a threat indoors, and lost her opening match at Paris to Sanchez Lorenzo, who doesn't like indoors either. But it looks as if she at least likes carpet better than indoor hardcourt). And, finally, there is the potential Clijsters vs. Clijsters match.

If you've looked at the Hyderabad qualifying draw and don't recognize any names, we can hardly blame you. In the whole draw, there were only three players who had singles accomplishments we could name -- and one of them was Kelly Liggan, whose "accomplishment" was to play an insane schedule without getting anywhere. The most noteworthy player there is surely Barbara Schwartz, and injuries have left her unseeded. The other players we recognized as more than names are both known mostly for doubles: Wynne Prakusya and Ting Li. (And Li lost first round, though Schwartz, Prakusya, and Liggan all survived.)

That weakness translated into the main draw, which was open to anyone ranked above about #180. (No surprise, that; Hyderabad is a low-tier event that's isolated geographically; that is a sure recipe for a crummy draw, and scheduling it for the same week as two other events just made it worse. The WTA should at least move it to the week after the Pan Pacific, as it was last year, so it could snag players on their way back to Europe from that event.) As it turned out, only one player -- top seed Saori Obata -- is Top 50, though the next three seeds -- #2 Marion Bartoli, #3 Tamarine Tanasugarn, who is the defending champion, and #4 Nicole Pratt -- are all fairly close. Rounding out the seeds are Jelena Kostanic, Jie Zheng, Maria Elena Camerin, and Lubomira Kurhajcova. Only one other player in the draw was in the Top 100 as of last week: Vera Douchevina. She, along with another young Russian, Maria Kirilenko, is perhaps one of the players to watch out for here. Douchevina opens against Anna-Lena Groenefeld, the other prospect in the draw (though her star has faded a bit recently; she hasn't backed up her early results). The other noteworthy name is the veteran Ruxandra Dragomir Ilie, who makes another attempt to get her career restarted here. Given that this is hardly stronger than some Challengers, anything is possible.

Memphis is, in terms of field size, the largest indoor event in the world (a total of 62 men and women in the singles draw; Moscow has only 60) -- but on the women's circuit, it's rather an afterthought, since it's only a Tier III. And, in a week when the WTA could barely scrape up three Top Ten players to play Paris, it's no surprise that there are no Top Ten players here. Topping the seed list is Vera Zvonareva, the only Top 20 player in the draw; the #2 seed is defending champion Lisa Raymond. Maria Sharapova is the #3 seed, and that's it for Top 40 players; last year's finalist Amanda Coetzer isn't back, and that leaves Laura Granville as the #4 seed. #5 Ashley Harkleroad and #6 Amy Frazier round out the Top 50 players in the draw; the #7 seed is Kristina Brandi, who is off to a fine start this year after not winning a WTA match in 2003 -- though, given her recent results and her liking for fast courts, she may be more of a threat than her seeding implies. The #8 seed is Akiko Morigami.

That weakness at the top meant that players down to about #115 earned direct entry, which let the organizers save their wildcards for Carly Gullickson (who made an impressive debut here last year but who hasn't won a WTA match since Miami) and Bea Bielik (who is demonstrating the difference between college and pro tennis; having won her first two WTA matches at the 2002 U. S. Open, she hasn't won one since, though she did make it through Wimbledon qualifying last year). The other relatively noteworthy young American in the draw is Shenay Perry, though if we were to list the most dangerous floaters, they would probably be Jelena Jankovic and Samantha Stosur.

In terms of draws, naturally, the top seeds don't have much to worry about. #1 seed Zvonareva starts with a bye, then an Italian, either Flavia Pennetta or Tathiana Garbin, then #5 seed Harkleroad. Unless this is a really slow court, it's hard to imagine Harkleroad threatening the Russian. Her first real test would be #3 seed and countrywoman (and, this week, doubles partner) Sharapova in the semifinal.

And even that is tough compared to what Raymond faces. After her bye, she would take on Sofia Arvidson or a qualifier, then #8 seed Morigami (or perhaps Jankovic, whom she beat at Philadelphia last year, though it took her a third set tiebreak to do it), then Granville or Brandi.

#3 seed Sharapova doesn't get a first round bye, but she does get a clay-courter in Conchita Martinez Granados. Then comes Rita Grande, who used to like indoors well enough (her best career title was Bratislava 2001) but who is in lousy form. Though her quarterfinal opponent is #6 seed Frazier (or Stosur), so she might have a tougher test there than either of the top seeds.

And with nearly 20 ranking places separating the #3 and #4 seeds, it's clear that those three are the strong favorites here. Obviously that doesn't mean that one of the other players can't win -- but it does mean that if someone else wins, it will be out of the blue.

Lisa Raymond, interestingly, is not playing doubles, meaning that there isn't a single team in the draw with a combined ranking better than 100. The top seeds are the reunited Italians, Tathiana Garbin and Rita Grande.

The qualifying draw is interesting on a couple of counts -- most notably that Tatiana Panova elected to play qualifying instead of using an injury exemption into the main draw. So far, it's working; as of this writing, she's in the qualifying final. Otherwise, the draw hasn't been kind to seeds. There was no #1 seed. #2 Barbora Strycova lost to Abigail Spears in the second round, and #3 Meilen Tu to Katerina Bondarenko in the same round (which gives us another story, since wildcard Katerina had beaten sister Alyona in the first round -- talk about lousy luck of the draw). #4 Eva Fislova lost in the first round to Edina Gallovits, who then lost to Angelika Bachmann, who is playing Panova. #5 Tzipora Obziler, the Israeli Comeback Player, also lost second round, to top junior Jarmila Gajdosova, meaning that the top four qualifying seeds all failed to make the qualifying final!

The Rankings. This week continues the schedule of points coming off a week before the tournaments: It's the week of Antwerp, but points are coming off from Dubai, Memphis, and Bogota. That means that only the players who are playing Memphis (notably defending champion Lisa Raymond) will have the chance to defend their points.

And that means that Kim Clijsters will actually have a chance to gain some ground on Justine Henin-Hardenne, last year's Dubai champion.

Can she gain enough to matter? It doesn't look like it -- not with the field as weak as it is. Henin-Hardenne seems certain to stay #1 -- though a win for Clijsters could close the gap enough that she might have a chance at the top spot around the time of Miami, or at least during the clay season.

Few other players have much to defend. Monica Seles has Dubai finalist points, but of course she will be relying on an injury ranking when she comes back. Amelie Mauresmo and Jennifer Capriati have semifinalist points to defend, but that won't affect them much. Memphis is actually more important to the players involved -- winner Raymond and finalist Amanda Coetzer, as well as semifinalist Yoon Jeong Cho, who is going to be needing her own injury ranking. Coetzer is already out of the Top 30, and could fall to not much above #40; Raymond may be hard-pressed to stay Top 30 if she loses early.

The loss of Bogota points will cost both defending champion Fabiola Zuluaga and finalist Anabel Medina Garrigues, though they should have chances to regain the ground the week after. It appears that Zuluaga will stay Top 30 -- but just barely.

AjdeNate!
Feb 16th, 2004, 02:27 AM
Thanks!

vettipooh
Feb 16th, 2004, 02:50 AM
Does he seriously think that venus is afraid of Maleeva? Venus has more confidence than that!!! She'll challenge anyone-win or lose!!

Valda Lake
Feb 16th, 2004, 03:31 AM
Excellent report! Good stuff! I tend to agree about Venus...it's not like she was worried about Rubin in Tokyo...Maggie 2nd rd could have been a potentially embarrassing display for her as defending champ...Pretty soon she'll have a very low ranking if she continues on this way. Btw...I highly doubt Pierce will be much of a challenge against Mags on carpet. I just wish Venus didn't back out again. That would have been sweeeeet! :)

You write very well...keep up the good work!

Cheers! :)

kyk710
Feb 16th, 2004, 03:42 AM
Thanks Til09!

for-sure
Feb 16th, 2004, 03:48 AM
Women's Look Forward: Week of February 16
Posted on 2/15/2004 at 7:06 PM

Women's Look Forward: Antwerp, Memphis, Hyderabad



This is not the busiest week on the WTA calendar. Quite. It falls short by all of two players.

There are only two weeks on the entire calendar when the WTA schedules two events: The week before the Australian Open, and this week. That week in January features 92 players in main draw action (28 at Sydney, 32 each at Canderra and Hobart). This week, because one of the events is a Tier III, the total is only 90.

The interesting thing is that the events in these weeks have historically been strong. Sydney is consistently one of the toughest events on the Tour. And Antwerp -- well, it's the biggest event in Belgium. And that of course means that it's natural for both Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne to play there.

Throw in Venus Williams, who was supposed to compete, and you would have had one of the better Tier II fields. Though a rather unbalanced one, assuming Venus were healthy; #1 Henin-Hardenne and #3 Venus were in the top half, while the next player after #2 seed Clijsters in the bottom half was Elena Dementieva, and she's not doing at all well this year.

But then Venus pulled out with a knee injury. Her points from the title are already off, so this won't hurt her ranking further -- but it's a disturbing sign.

And with her out, the rest of the field looks a lot like Paris last week: Jelena Dokic isn't playing, but Patty Schnyder is the #5 seed, Francesca Schiavone #6, Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi #7, and Silvia Farina Elia #8; they were respectively #3, #5, #6, and #7 at Paris. The #9 seed, now that Venus is out, is Magdalena Maleeva. Magui Serna, the #8 seed at Paris, is next in line. Also back for Paris encores are Karolina Sprem and Dinara Safina (neither of whom had to qualify this time), Emilie Loit, Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, Tina Pisnik, Petra Mandula, Eleni Daniilidou, and Mary Pierce. Most of the other players here are women who couldn't get into Paris directly; the major exception is Magdalena Maleeva, who is just in from the Pan Pacific -- and who was originally supposed to meet Venus in the second round in what would have been a very interesting match. You almost wonder if Venus withdrew after she saw that she would meet Maleeva in the second round; it's worth remembering that Maleeva has beaten Venus twice on carpet in recent years: At Nice 2001 and at Moscow 2002. Venus returned the favor at the 2002 Australian Open -- but that wasn't carpet. The irony is that Venus's withdrawal put Maleeva in a seeded spot -- but arguably a worse draw, since she now has to deal with Mary Pierce in the first round. The real beneficiary is Patty Schnyder, promoted into Venus's place, who now has a first round bye and then faces one of two qualifiers.

The two wildcards are Belgians (surprise, surprise); Els Callens deservedly earned one wildcard, and they gave Elke Clijsters the other (though she may have to withdraw due to injury). Since Elke opens against a qualifier, expect her to get clobbered (this follows from the fact that you can expect her to get clobbered if she plays anyone) -- though the malicious part of us rather wants her to win, by injury if need be, just so that she can get clobbered even worse by sister Kim in the second round.

Although the draw is not really particularly impressive (a quarter of the players with direct entry are ranked below #50, and that's weak for a Tier II), there are some pretty good matches even so. #7 seed Smashnova-Pistolesi, who doesn't like indoors much and who lost to Tatiana Golovin last week, opens against an even more impressive youngster, Karolina Sprem. We'll also have an interesting contest between wildcard Callens, who is better than her ranking on fast courts, and slippery Frenchwoman Emilie Loit.

In the bottom half, we could see a rematch between Francesca Schiavone and Dinara Safina in the second round. We'll also see Elena Dementieva have to face either Tina Pisnik or Petra Mandula in the second round -- a stiff challenge, given Dementieva's recent form. #9 seed Maleeva has the toughest opening match of all, since she faces Pierce, with the winner facing Daniilidou (admittedly Daniilidou isn't much of a threat indoors, and lost her opening match at Paris to Sanchez Lorenzo, who doesn't like indoors either. But it looks as if she at least likes carpet better than indoor hardcourt). And, finally, there is the potential Clijsters vs. Clijsters match.

If you've looked at the Hyderabad qualifying draw and don't recognize any names, we can hardly blame you. In the whole draw, there were only three players who had singles accomplishments we could name -- and one of them was Kelly Liggan, whose "accomplishment" was to play an insane schedule without getting anywhere. The most noteworthy player there is surely Barbara Schwartz, and injuries have left her unseeded. The other players we recognized as more than names are both known mostly for doubles: Wynne Prakusya and Ting Li. (And Li lost first round, though Schwartz, Prakusya, and Liggan all survived.)

That weakness translated into the main draw, which was open to anyone ranked above about #180. (No surprise, that; Hyderabad is a low-tier event that's isolated geographically; that is a sure recipe for a crummy draw, and scheduling it for the same week as two other events just made it worse. The WTA should at least move it to the week after the Pan Pacific, as it was last year, so it could snag players on their way back to Europe from that event.) As it turned out, only one player -- top seed Saori Obata -- is Top 50, though the next three seeds -- #2 Marion Bartoli, #3 Tamarine Tanasugarn, who is the defending champion, and #4 Nicole Pratt -- are all fairly close. Rounding out the seeds are Jelena Kostanic, Jie Zheng, Maria Elena Camerin, and Lubomira Kurhajcova. Only one other player in the draw was in the Top 100 as of last week: Vera Douchevina. She, along with another young Russian, Maria Kirilenko, is perhaps one of the players to watch out for here. Douchevina opens against Anna-Lena Groenefeld, the other prospect in the draw (though her star has faded a bit recently; she hasn't backed up her early results). The other noteworthy name is the veteran Ruxandra Dragomir Ilie, who makes another attempt to get her career restarted here. Given that this is hardly stronger than some Challengers, anything is possible.

Memphis is, in terms of field size, the largest indoor event in the world (a total of 62 men and women in the singles draw; Moscow has only 60) -- but on the women's circuit, it's rather an afterthought, since it's only a Tier III. And, in a week when the WTA could barely scrape up three Top Ten players to play Paris, it's no surprise that there are no Top Ten players here. Topping the seed list is Vera Zvonareva, the only Top 20 player in the draw; the #2 seed is defending champion Lisa Raymond. Maria Sharapova is the #3 seed, and that's it for Top 40 players; last year's finalist Amanda Coetzer isn't back, and that leaves Laura Granville as the #4 seed. #5 Ashley Harkleroad and #6 Amy Frazier round out the Top 50 players in the draw; the #7 seed is Kristina Brandi, who is off to a fine start this year after not winning a WTA match in 2003 -- though, given her recent results and her liking for fast courts, she may be more of a threat than her seeding implies. The #8 seed is Akiko Morigami.

That weakness at the top meant that players down to about #115 earned direct entry, which let the organizers save their wildcards for Carly Gullickson (who made an impressive debut here last year but who hasn't won a WTA match since Miami) and Bea Bielik (who is demonstrating the difference between college and pro tennis; having won her first two WTA matches at the 2002 U. S. Open, she hasn't won one since, though she did make it through Wimbledon qualifying last year). The other relatively noteworthy young American in the draw is Shenay Perry, though if we were to list the most dangerous floaters, they would probably be Jelena Jankovic and Samantha Stosur.

In terms of draws, naturally, the top seeds don't have much to worry about. #1 seed Zvonareva starts with a bye, then an Italian, either Flavia Pennetta or Tathiana Garbin, then #5 seed Harkleroad. Unless this is a really slow court, it's hard to imagine Harkleroad threatening the Russian. Her first real test would be #3 seed and countrywoman (and, this week, doubles partner) Sharapova in the semifinal.

And even that is tough compared to what Raymond faces. After her bye, she would take on Sofia Arvidson or a qualifier, then #8 seed Morigami (or perhaps Jankovic, whom she beat at Philadelphia last year, though it took her a third set tiebreak to do it), then Granville or Brandi.

#3 seed Sharapova doesn't get a first round bye, but she does get a clay-courter in Conchita Martinez Granados. Then comes Rita Grande, who used to like indoors well enough (her best career title was Bratislava 2001) but who is in lousy form. Though her quarterfinal opponent is #6 seed Frazier (or Stosur), so she might have a tougher test there than either of the top seeds.

And with nearly 20 ranking places separating the #3 and #4 seeds, it's clear that those three are the strong favorites here. Obviously that doesn't mean that one of the other players can't win -- but it does mean that if someone else wins, it will be out of the blue.

Lisa Raymond, interestingly, is not playing doubles, meaning that there isn't a single team in the draw with a combined ranking better than 100. The top seeds are the reunited Italians, Tathiana Garbin and Rita Grande.

The qualifying draw is interesting on a couple of counts -- most notably that Tatiana Panova elected to play qualifying instead of using an injury exemption into the main draw. So far, it's working; as of this writing, she's in the qualifying final. Otherwise, the draw hasn't been kind to seeds. There was no #1 seed. #2 Barbora Strycova lost to Abigail Spears in the second round, and #3 Meilen Tu to Katerina Bondarenko in the same round (which gives us another story, since wildcard Katerina had beaten sister Alyona in the first round -- talk about lousy luck of the draw). #4 Eva Fislova lost in the first round to Edina Gallovits, who then lost to Angelika Bachmann, who is playing Panova. #5 Tzipora Obziler, the Israeli Comeback Player, also lost second round, to top junior Jarmila Gajdosova, meaning that the top four qualifying seeds all failed to make the qualifying final!

The Rankings. This week continues the schedule of points coming off a week before the tournaments: It's the week of Antwerp, but points are coming off from Dubai, Memphis, and Bogota. That means that only the players who are playing Memphis (notably defending champion Lisa Raymond) will have the chance to defend their points.

And that means that Kim Clijsters will actually have a chance to gain some ground on Justine Henin-Hardenne, last year's Dubai champion.

Can she gain enough to matter? It doesn't look like it -- not with the field as weak as it is. Henin-Hardenne seems certain to stay #1 -- though a win for Clijsters could close the gap enough that she might have a chance at the top spot around the time of Miami, or at least during the clay season.

Few other players have much to defend. Monica Seles has Dubai finalist points, but of course she will be relying on an injury ranking when she comes back. Amelie Mauresmo and Jennifer Capriati have semifinalist points to defend, but that won't affect them much. Memphis is actually more important to the players involved -- winner Raymond and finalist Amanda Coetzer, as well as semifinalist Yoon Jeong Cho, who is going to be needing her own injury ranking. Coetzer is already out of the Top 30, and could fall to not much above #40; Raymond may be hard-pressed to stay Top 30 if she loses early.

The loss of Bogota points will cost both defending champion Fabiola Zuluaga and finalist Anabel Medina Garrigues, though they should have chances to regain the ground the week after. It appears that Zuluaga will stay Top 30 -- but just barely.

great! thanks

for-sure
Feb 16th, 2004, 03:49 AM
"The two wildcards are Belgians (surprise, surprise); Els Callens deservedly earned one wildcard, and they gave Elke Clijsters the other (though she may have to withdraw due to injury). Since Elke opens against a qualifier, expect her to get clobbered (this follows from the fact that you can expect her to get clobbered if she plays anyone) -- though the malicious part of us rather wants her to win, by injury if need be, just so that she can get clobbered even worse by sister Kim in the second round."

LOL---> I loved this part.

Hawk
Feb 16th, 2004, 04:42 AM
"The two wildcards are Belgians (surprise, surprise); Els Callens deservedly earned one wildcard, and they gave Elke Clijsters the other (though she may have to withdraw due to injury). Since Elke opens against a qualifier, expect her to get clobbered (this follows from the fact that you can expect her to get clobbered if she plays anyone) -- though the malicious part of us rather wants her to win, by injury if need be, just so that she can get clobbered even worse by sister Kim in the second round."

LOL---> I loved this part.
I understand why some people like to bash Elke..I don't agree with it..but I gotta say that paragraph was hiliarious :o :lol: I was dying laughing :lol:

Jericho
Feb 16th, 2004, 04:53 AM
great! thanks
im sorry, but do you really have to quote the whole damn article just to say that:rolleyes: :p

bandabou
Feb 16th, 2004, 05:34 AM
:lol: @ Elke.....but it is sooooooooo true!

Daniel
Feb 16th, 2004, 06:08 AM
Thanks, :)

Vut
Feb 16th, 2004, 09:18 AM
Thanks :D
Go! Tanasugarn