Sunday, August 8, 2010

Preview: WTA Cincinnati

Here comes the first preview of my new tennis blog. The first tournament to be in my first preview is the Western & Southern Financial Group Womens Open held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the USA. As you could read in my previous post, it's a Premier 5 tournament so tennis fans expect to see big names competing in this tournament, but, you know, some best players won't be able to. Such a shame for this tournament. Let's look at some basic and important facts:

Place: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Date: August 9-15
Category: Premier 5
Prize Money: $2,000,000
Draw: 64 MD/32 QD
Surface: Hardcourts/Outdoors
Tournament Director: Bruce Flory
Defending Champion: Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Tournament Website: http://www.cincytennis.com/
Draw: http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/SEWTATour-Archive/posting/2010/1017/MDS.pdf
Live Scores: http://www.protennislive.com/frameset.asp?year=2010&wkno=32&lang=en&tabno=2&eventid=M024&ref=www.sonyericssonwtatour.com


Seeded players:
01. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Jelena Jankovic has been struggling with ankle injury since Portoroz. She still felt the pain in her ankle in her San Diego second round match against Alisa Kleybanova of Russia which she lost 57 26. Jankovic is the defending champion and there would be no doubts she would go far but will she be able to as she's injured? On the other hand she couldn't ask for a better draw! As a top seed she has a BYE in the first round and will meet a qualifier in the round two. As was predicted, she should play against new face Aravane Rezai in the third round, who has been a new upcoming star this year. It's hard to predict if Jelena will be pain/injury free next week, if yes, she can go far and even defend her last year's triumph, no doubts she has a game for it!


02. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
Nicknamed "Sunshine", Caroline will be one of the contenders for the title. No doubts her game is different to most of top players, she prefers to play in defence as it's one of her biggest weapons. You never know with Caroline but you always have to say she's a contender for the title as she's one of the most consistent players on tour. As #2 seed, she should have no problems to get into R3 for a probable showdown with French Marion Bartoli who showed some promising form in Stanford a week ago.

03. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
After Roland Garros, Dementieva has played only one tournament as she was out for a few weeks due to a calf injury which even forced her to pull out of Wimbledon. Lost to Maria Sharapova in a three-setter one week ago in Stanford quarterfinal. Always a contender for the title but you never know with Dementieva as she can be quite inconsistent. Maybe two matches in Stanford helped her to get used to play again and will shine in Cincinnati as she has a game to do so. Not an easy second round match for the Russian though. She will meet either Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia or her compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Could reach at least quarterfinal if she wins her second round match.

04. Kim Clijsters (BEL)
Mother Kim Clijsters can still win big tournaments as she proved last year at the US Open. After a Wimbledon disappointment, she comes back on tour here in Cincinnati. She will face Safina/Vinci in the second round and tennis fans are still awaiting the moment when Safina finds her old form and can be dangerous again. Another seeded player, Nadia Petrova of Russia, could wait for Clijsters in the third round and Clijsters doesn't have the best memories on their last match as Petrova destroyed Clijsters 60 61 in the third round match at the Australian Open.

05. Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Surprising Roland Garros 2010 winner has done absolutely nothing since that. She has played several tournament but mostly fell in first matches. Maybe another big tournament will help her to find her big form from Roland Garros. Schiavone hasn't an easy draw as she can face young American star Melanie Oudin or last week's Istanbul finalist Elena Vesnina of Russia. Not even speaking about predictable R3 showdown with Stanford winner Victoria Azarenka.


06. Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
After a dream final run at Wimbledon, Zvonareva has been struggling, she played just one tournament since Wimbledon, in Stanford where she lost to home qualifier Coco Vandeweghe in three tight sets. She is scheduled to face Kirilenko/K.Bondarenko in the second round which won't be an easy match for her as she will probably face dangerous and unpredictable compatriot, Maria Kirilenko. Italian Flavia Pennetta could stop her in the third round, Pennetta found some good form again and reached the semifinal in San Diego this week.

07. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Another consistent player with great tactics and offensive/defensive play on the court. Radwanska has some form at the moment as she's playing Daniela Hantuchova in the second San Diego semifinal tonight. She will face Kleybanova/Dulgheru winner in the second round which is not really easy, Dulgheru is very unpredictable although clay is her favourite surface and Kleybanova has probably been slightly getting into some form. She could face Kuznetsova/Sharapova in the third round, not players she couldn't beat. But will she be able to play to her standards at least?

08. Na Li (CHN)
Always unpredictable and quite inconsistent, Li will face Hampton/Errani in the second round which she should manage to win. She could meet Belgian star Yanina Wickmayer in the third round who will definitely give her some trouble and seed number wouldn't play any role in this match.

09. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
After winning Stanford, Azarenka was forced to pull out of San Diego due to a right shoulder injury. No doubts she will be a contender for the title if she's injury free, maybe a contender for the "US Open series title"? She will face former world number one Ana Ivanovic in the first round. Ivanovic is struggling this year a lot, can't find her old good form but who knows when that moment can come, tennis fans still believe that beatiful Ana will find her form to get back to the top. Azarenka has a quite open draw until semifinals, if she beats Ivanovic, she will probably face Shvedova and then maybe Schiavone who is out of form. In the next round she should face Jankovic/Rezai, as said, Jankovic is injured and Rezai hasn't played her best tennis recently.

10. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Sharapova got probably the toughest first round opponent possible, her compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, fresh finalist in San Diego. She should have no problems getting at least to the third round, if she beats Kuznetsova, where she could face Agnieszka Radwanska again after two weeks (Sharapova won in three sets in Stanford). She has already beaten Caroline Wozniacki and very easy so her draw is quite open. I think her first round match will be a decider for how well she will do in Cincinnati next week.

11. Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Finally found some form after a disappointing Wimbledon run. Reached the semifinal in San Diego where she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova today. Will play a tricky Chinese star Jie Zheng in the first round and can face former top player Sabine Lisicki who is coming back from an injury. Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva could await in the third round but considering her current form, Pennetta has a solid chance to go further than her seeding suggests.

12. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)
Wickmayer got a nice first round opponent, a qualifier. In the second round she will face Safarova or Dulko, Dulko is currently absolutely out of form and Safarova is still very inconsistent although at the moment, the Czech is more lossing than winning. Could face Na Li in the third round.

13. Shahar Peer (ISR)
Always a tricky and dangerous player with a great backhand. Will face Olga Govortsova in the first round and if she wins she will have a pleasure to play a qualifier in round two. Peer won't probably be pleased to play Dementieva in the third round though.

14. Aravane Rezai (FRA)
As was said, even for struggling Rezai, it shouldn't be a problem to get into the third round as "only qualifiers" stand in her way to play Jankovic who is currently injured. Rezai is also known for her inconsistency but you never know when this Frenchwoman can shine again.

15. Nadia Petrova (RUS)
Home wildcard Christina McHale shouldn't be a problem for this experienced 28-year-old Russian. She hasn't got a bad second round opponent as well, qualifier or Spanish Parra Santonja. Can she even repeat demolition of Kim Clijsters from this year's Australian Open? If yes, she could go far, she proved many times she knows how to go deep in the tournaments.

16. Marion Bartoli (FRA)
Bartoli has been impressive in Stanford, even was close to beat eventual champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals. She hasn't got a bad draw, facing Medina Garrigues in the first round and possibly Cibulkova in the second round. Experienced Wozniacki could beat her though, it will depend on how Bartoli's aggressive game will work.


Unseeded players to watch:
Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Whole tennis world is expecting the day when Ana Ivanovic, former world number one and Roland Garros 2008 winner, will find her way back to the top. She has been struggling with her form for a really long time but she always has to be considered a dangerous player because she's one of the best players when her game works. Unfortunately for her fans, her game hasn't been good enough this year which led to many first round exits. She plays Stanford champion Victoria Azarenka in the first round and this is one of the toughest first round opponents possible.


Dinara Safina (RUS)
Maybe I'm too naive but there's another woman who is struggling to find her way back to the top. Former world number one, multiple Grand Slam finalist coming from a back injury can't find her old game to win tournaments again, to even start winning matches again. And her first round opponent Roberta Vinci of Italy won't help her in it as she doesn't give her opponents much of rhythm. Even if Safina wins, she will have to face Kim Clijsters in the second round.


Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Finally coming back on tour. One of the biggest young hopes and upcoming stars. Struggled all 2010 season with injuries and finally coming back injury free as she said. Her comeback was scheduled to happen in Portoroz but Lisicki still felt some pain and said she has to postpone her comeback. Finally it's here and finally this girl with aggressive game and huge strokes is ready to compete. She hasn't played a match since Miami and I think all tennis fans are curious to see how she will do. She couldn't ask for a better R1 match, she will play a qualifier. Second round will be tough as Lisicki will probably face Italian Flavia Pennetta. Unseeded players can't expect an easy draw!


Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)
Still a possible San Diego finalist this year, will play Agnieszka Radwanska tonight for a final spot and a match against Svetlana Kuznetsova for the title. Hantuchova will face last week's Istanbul winner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, young Russian star, former junior number one. Her second round opponent wouldn't be any easier, another Russian, Elena Dementieva, seeded player number three. Hantuchova proved many times she can win big matches and even big tournaments, can she shine again?


Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Fresh Istanbul winner, after defeating her compatriot Elena Vesnina in the final. Will face Hantuchova in the first round and we're looking for a good and competitive match. This young woman can surprise by a big run but also won't probably disappoint by R1 exit as she got one of the toughest and most experienced opponents.


Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Another unseeded Russian in the main draw, facing her compatriot Maria Sharapova in the first round in the most entertaining first round encounter for sure. Kuznetsova reached the San Diego final earlier today after beating Flavia Pennetta so no doubts she has finally found some form after not having a really good first half of the season. The same story as for Maria Sharapova, can go far if wins her first round match.


First round matches to watch:
Azarenka vs. Ivanovic
Although Azarenka is considered a favourite easily, she has her right shoulder injured but we don't know how serious it's, could be only preventive to pull out of San Diego. Ivanovic still struggling to find her big game. Could be an interesting match I think because Ivanovic has already beaten Azarenka in Rome this year although Azarenka was injured.


Hantuchova vs. Pavlyuchenkova
The Slovak can be inconsistent, even sets-wise in one match and Pavlyuchenkova showed some nice play in Istanbul. Could be a nice match full of big winners from both sides. Definitely will be interesting for fans and Dementieva to watch who will pull off a win from this encounter.


Kuznetsova vs. Sharapova
Finally the biggest and most awaited match of the first round in Cincinnati. Russian fight. Fresh San Diego finalist Kuznetsova on one side and fresh Stanford finalist Sharapova on the other side. You can't know what to expect from this match, both players can play bad or good. You never know, especially with Kuznetsova lately. I think the winner can go really far in the tournament.

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