May 18th, 2008
The WTA Tour stopped in Rome this week for the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, one of the tours top destinations for their Tier I title. The week began promising with big names Sharapova, both Williamses and both Serbians being in the draw. The Tour was however wrecked with news that the number 1 player in the world, Justine Henin was retiring from the sport.
Like the blockbuster announcement, the tournament was trying to live up to the hype of having such a great draw, unfortunately it soon began to dwindle down to a very big disappointment. Ana Ivanovic was first to head out in the 2nd Round to qualifier, Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. Everything seemed to be running smooth for both Williams sisters until the Quarter-Finals where Serena pulled out of the tournament because of a stiff back she received in practice and Venus lost a three set battle with Jankovic, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. A Jankovic, Sharapova Semi-Final was supposed to happen but like Serena, Sharapova pulled out of the tournament before the match. It seems Rome was not a very friendly tournament to either the men or the women.
The final was between defending champion, Jelena Jankovic and Alize Cornet, an up and coming young French woman. It was Cornet's first Tier I final and it showed, she never found her form in the Finals and Jankovic took full advantage of the lack of experience of her opponent. Jankovic went on to win easily, 6-2, 6-2 and defend her title here in Rome. Jankovic now is one of the favorites for Roland Garros. Just for the way they have played this year, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are favorites as well. Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova are always contenders, and a player like Venus Williams would be considered a darkhorse on the clay.
Next week the WTA Tour stops in two places, the last locations before Roland Garros. The tour stops in Istanbul and Strasbourg.