Tennis Forum banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
I'm so current, I'm tomorrow.
Joined
·
49,309 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
And now, for something completely different. To this point, the WTA schedule has been entirely coherent: Every event has been in the Far East. And this week has an event in the east. But the big event is halfway around the world, in Paris. Up to now, it was no problem to play back-to-back events -- as players like Elena Likhovtseva and Martina Hingis have shown by playing every week so far this year.

But a player who wants to stay at the top level, playing only Tier II or better events, really had to make a choice this last week and this: Pan Pacific (and then maybe Dubai or Doha at the end of the month), or skip the year's first Tier I to play Paris and Antwerp.

The result is that Paris has a mid-grade field: The cutoff for qualifying was around #70, meaning that some fairly noteworthy players are in qualifying, including Karolina Sprem, Eleni Daniilidou, and Tsvetana Pironkova (all of whom won their openers). We weren't kidding about not many players playing the Pan Pacific and Paris both; apart from doubles top seeds Cara Black and Rennae Stubbs, and perhaps some players in qualifying (we didn't check) the only players listed as making the long flight are Marion Bartoli, Nathalie Dechy, Tatiana Golovin (all French, we note, and they all lost early), Kveta Peschke -- and, supposedly, Elena Dementieva, who is supposed to be the #5 seed. We'll see if she makes it.

The field is fairly French, and also looks rather Gold-Exempt-Rule-ish: There are five Top Ten players, but only three other players who were Top 20 last week. Amelie Mauresmo, last year's finalist, is the #1 seed, with Mary Pierce #2. Nadia Petrova is #3, and Patty Schnyder #4. Dementieva, despite now being ranked ahead of Schnyder, is #5 and therefore won't get a first round bye. (Another reason to wonder if she'll make it in time to play.) Flavia Pennetta is an improbable #6, given that this event is played on carpet.

Dinara Safina, the defending champion, is #7. Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who couldn't even win a match at a Challenger last week, rounds out the seeds. The lack of mid-level players is noteworthy -- could players have decided to play fewer Tier II events, as the points table implies they should? Nathalie Dechy is next in line if a seed (Dementieva? Groenfeld?) pulls out, but she and Golovin and Bartoli and Anabel Medina Garrigues are the only others who were Top 30 on last week's rankings.

Anna Chakvetadze is Top 40 but in a bad slump. Kveta Peschke is barely back from injury. Sania Mirza seems to have a problem hitting the Top 30. That means the best prospect in the draw is probably Lucie Safarova -- and she has never won a WTA match on carpet, and has only one indoor hardcourt win.

It's a bit ironic, in light of our discussion about tournament strengths and schedules, to note that the top seed at Pattaya City did not play the Pan Pacific: Vera Zvonareva, who could have gotten into Paris, elected to play Thailand instead. (Maybe it's a Silver Exempt thing; maybe she's figured out how much easier it is to win Tier III events. Or maybe it's just the slower courts.) #2 seed Shinobu Asagoe just saw her ranking go in the tank; she would be seeded about #6 based on this week's rankings.

#3 Catalina Castano has been having the best year of her life, and is looking for a career high. Shahar Peer, saw her ranking rise spectacularly in 2005 but who has levelled off in recent months, will try to fix that as the #4 seed. Nuria Llagostera Vives is #5, Zheng Jie #6, Aiko Nakamura #7, Mara Santangelo #8.There are some interesting unseeded players. Paola Suarez, if she can ever get back into playing shape, is better than most of the seeds. Henrieta Nagyova got a wildcard presumably because she's a former champion, though that was many years and many injuries ago.

Tamarine Tanasugarn nearly needed a wildcard also, but she is Thailand's best player even now. Alona Bondarenko was a quarterfinalist last year -- though, because Pattaya has been delayed a week in the rankings, she is actually defending points from the 2005 Hyderabad final. Li Na was playing very well until getting hurt last year; she just missed a seed, and probably should have gotten one. Plus Samantha Stosur has been playing well lately, and of course she is also a top doubles player. Not one of last year's four semifinalists is back.

Defending champion Conchita Martinez hasn't played this year. Anna-Lena Groenefeld left the far east to play a Challenger! Evgenia Linetskaya is a mess. Most interesting is the absence of Virginia Ruano Pascual, given that partner Paola Suarez is here.

The Rankings It's going to be a mostly quiet week at the top. The only Top Ten players with significant points to defend are Mauresmo (Paris final) and Petrova (Paris semifinal). Mauresmo has enough lead on Lindsay Davenport that she can't lose the #2 ranking, but she has enough to defend that she can't overtake Kim Clijsters. The top four, next week, will certainly be Clijsters, Mauresmo, Davenport, Sharapova.

The #5 spot is more interesting, with Mary Pierce about 150 points behind Justine Henin-Hardenne. A title for Pierce would take her to #5, dropping Henin-Hardenne to #6. It appears that the only other possible move in the Top Ten is that Dementieva could overtake Petrova for #7.

There will doubtless be more movement below that. Flavia Pennetta needs only a few dozen points to pass Svetlana Kuznetsova and hit the Top 15; it appears a quarterfinal will do it. And Dinara Safina of course has champion's points to defend; an early loss will certainly drop her out of the Top 20 and could leave her barely Top 25.

Sania Mira won Hyderabad at this time last year; the loss of those points could drop her below #40 -- though she'll have the chance to put them back on at Bangalore. Tatiana Golovin's Paris semifinal points are all that is keeping her Top 25. Alona Bondarenko made the Hyderabad final, so her Top 100 ranking is under threat. Laura Granville has big points from the Midland Challenger (and other Challengers to follow); we'll have to see where she decides to play in coming weeks.

And Serena Williams made the Paris quarterfinal last year; she appears bound out of the Top 40. Talk about irony: It is quite possible that she could be ranked behind Martina Hingis by the end of the month.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
114,718 Posts
Dinara Safina of course has champion's points to defend; an early loss will certainly drop her out of the Top 20 and could leave her barely Top 25.

But then Dinara has almost nothing to defend for a while.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,190 Posts
goldenlox said:
Dinara Safina of course has champion's points to defend; an early loss will certainly drop her out of the Top 20 and could leave her barely Top 25.

But then Dinara has almost nothing to defend for a while.
Yep, nearly nothing to defend until Pragues :worship:
and a 1st round loss at the french...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,893 Posts
And Serena Williams made the Paris quarterfinal last year; she appears bound out of the Top 40. Talk about irony: It is quite possible that she could be ranked behind Martina Hingis by the end of the month.
:eek:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,630 Posts
Athenaeum said:

The result is that Paris has a mid-grade field:
Um, there are 5 top-ten players in the draw. Even if the rest of the field doesn't really jazz you, I think those players alone elevate the tournament from "mid-grade."

Otherwise, some good insights. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,096 Posts
This where will the players schedule themselves to play on the new ranking system thing is getting interesting. The Russians made a very effective raid on Tokyo last week and walked off with the points for a Tier 1 with no modifying quality points to reflect the lack of top 10 players and he's right it is interesting who is and isn't bothering with Tier 2 s.

The Martina/serena thing at least seems to be working out - it looks as if only Serena will be needing special entry to tournaments soon - otherwise there could have been two of them asking for the same place.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top