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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 03:24 PM   #1
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Women's draw lacking intrigue

http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports...1s8tennis.html

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INDIAN WELLS – It's a his-and-hers event, offering competition for tennis players of both genders, but the emphasis at the Pacific Life Open likely is going to fall decidedly on the “his” half.

The women's draw just doesn't seem that attractive, not with the two ranking players on the WTA Tour, Kim Clijsters and Amelie Mauresmo, having chosen not to compete at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.


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Additionally, such figures in the women's game as Mary Pierce, Nadia Petrova and Svetlana Kuznetsova have not presented themselves for the start of play today. The Williams sisters also are no-shows, not that that is surprising. Neither of the sisters has exercised here since 2001, when Serena won the tournament.

They haven't said so publicly, but the women players involved here are known to feel that once the men start taking their cuts on Friday, the women are pretty much forgotten. Not a problem this year. The women could be forgotten before the men begin their phase of the event.

The circumstances relate as much to the compelling possibilities contained in the men's draw as to the lack of them on the women's side. The most intriguing matter deals with Roger Federer, this event's champion the last two years, possibly having a fifth confrontation with Rafael Nadal, the muscular young Spaniard who last week extended his series advantage over the Swiss star to 3-1 by besting him in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Open 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Federer, the No. 1 seed, is in one half of the draw, Nadal, the No. 2 seed, in the other. At first blush, Federer's half would seem a breeze for him – until one looks deeply into it. Lurking there is Marat Safin, the 2000 U.S. Open and 2005 Australian Open champion, but unseeded here. The new hope of Great Britain, Andy Murray, and Mark Philippoussis are other unseeded players in Federer's half.

Nadal would seem comfortably enough placed in a quarter in which Lleyton Hewitt and surprise Wimbledon finalist Marcos Baghdatis also are lodged. No. 3 seed Andy Roddick drew into a quarter that is positively bulging with talent, including Andre Agassi, Tommy Haas (a two-time winner this season), James Blake (coming off a triumph last week at Las Vegas) and Tommy Robredo.

There are 32 men's seeds, all of whom have byes. Thus, none of them is apt to be visible before Saturday.

Federer's time in the desert should be considerably more taxing than the period ahead for Justine Henin-Hardenne, the No. 1 women's seed. The Belgian is in a half of the draw devoid of name players, with a single exception: No. 4 seed Elena Dementieva. In the draw's other half, meantime, are such possible contenders as Lindsay Davenport, a winner here in 1997 and 2000; former Wimbledon queen Maria Sharapova; Anna-Lena Groenefeld, a comer from Germany who just won a tournament in Acapulco; and Martina Hingis.

The comebacking Hingis' presence offsets to some degree the absences of Clijsters and Mauresmo. Clijsters has chosen this week to permit what she terms some “niggling” injuries to heal. Mauresmo simply did not enter.

Ninety-six players form the women's field. Thirty-two are seeded, thus have byes. Anybody looking for marquee names today is going to have to look hard.


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Sign on the Indian Wells concourse: “Coachella Valley Massage Team.” Turned out the reference was to Jolein Price, who is offering rubdowns for $2 a minute. “With all the excitement here, they help people not get their necks in a knot,” she said.
Agassi, Steffi Graf, Hingis, Sharapova, Bob and Mike Bryan, Blake and Mardy Fish took part in an exhibition yesterday at La Quinta Resort and Club. It was a benefit for the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation, which funds programs that support brain tumor patients and their families. . . .

A tournament handing out 32 seeds has to be welcomed by the top seeds, who thus are spared having to oppose players of demonstrated quality in an opening round. Nobody, it seems, thinks of the spectators. Would you thrill to a program on which the most compelling match could be one between Karolina Sprem and Shinobu Asagoe? . . .

Dementieva might have one of the least rigorous draws ever in a tournament of this one's standing. She could go through to the quarterfinals without having to engage other than qualifiers or “lucky losers.” . . .

The women's winner here receives $332,000, the men's winner $455,000.
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 03:26 PM   #2
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Concerns Turn to Women's Draw

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Top-ranked Clijsters and second-ranked Mauresmo are biggest of six top-10 absentees.
By Lisa Dillman, Times Staff Writer
March 8, 2006


Finally, financial news can be nudged into the background — well, sort of — now that survival of the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells has been assured in time for this year's tennis tournament.

The near miss has dominated recent headlines and news stories.


"I can tell you that I've had maybe one of the toughest years I've ever had in my life, just the anxiety of not being able to know whether we're going to be able to keep this event here," said Charlie Pasarell, one of the event's owners.

Pasarell was speaking during an official announcement last week of a new partnership group that had bought out IMG's interest, helping keep the event in Southern California. The management firm, IMG, had owned 50% of the tournament, and Pasarell and his partner Raymond Moore the other half.

Before it came together, who had time to worry and wonder about things like a relatively weak women's draw this year, especially if the event was to be moved in 2007?

Strength of field, however, has become a valid issue now that the moving vans won't be heading out of Indian Wells. First-round, main-draw action opens for the women today at Indian Wells Tennis Garden without defending champion and top-ranked Kim Clijsters of Belgium or Australian Open champion and No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo of France.

By not playing, Clijsters, who continues to recover from an injured ankle, will lose the top spot to Mauresmo when the new rankings are released after Indian Wells.

The top eight-seeded players, in order, will be former champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, Lindsay Davenport, Russians Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva and Anastasia Myskina, Flavia Pennetta of Italy, Anna-Lena Groenfeld of Germany and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Montenegro.

Also skipping the tournament, besides Clijsters and Mauresmo, are four other members of the top 10 — Mary Pierce of France, Nadia Petrova of Russia, Patty Schnyder of Switzerland and Venus Williams.

But the addition of one player helps camouflage some of the draw's weaknesses. Martina Hingis of Switzerland received a wild card, and this will be the seventh tournament of her comeback.

Interest in Hingis from the media and tournament directors has been high since she announced she would be returning to the tour this year, playing an active schedule for the first time since feet and ankle problems forced her out of the game in late 2002.

She lost to Clijsters in three sets in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Here, Hingis has a bye in the first round and could play either a qualifier or Saori Obata of Japan in the second. If form holds, Hingis will play Davenport in the fourth round, one of the most intriguing early-round matches.

Davenport is in the same half of the draw as Sharapova and Myskina. Henin-Hardenne is in the other half, along with Dementieva.

The men's draw came out Tuesday, and one quirk was immediately obvious. Four top Americans landed in the same quarter — Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi, James Blake and Taylor Dent. It looked like an informal Davis Cup practice, with a lot more money and prestige on the line.

Top-seeded and defending champion Roger Federer of Switzerland will play either Agustin Calleri of Argentina or Nicolas Massu of Chile in his opening match. Federer is in the same half of the draw as David Nalbandian of Argentina.

Second-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain, who defeated Federer in the final at Dubai in three sets over the weekend, is in the same half as Agassi and Roddick and the same quarter as Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 03:52 PM   #3
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Having 32 BYES is a bit When a top 53 player has a Bye in Tier I, it's weird

Until seeds starts to play, it will looks like a Taschkent Draw
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 04:17 PM   #4
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Tokyo and Doha came up fairly soft also.
Lots of injuries at the top.
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 06:03 PM   #5
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It really isn't good for Indian Wells that Miami has become a mandatory event...But at the other side the mens draw is truly amazing, and if the marquee women had played here this year, they would have been forced out on the smaller courts...
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