Published July 19, 2009 05:02
PORTOROZ, Slovenia - For the first time, the Banka Koper Slovenia Open is graced by a reigning world No.1, but Dinara Safina will have to work hard if she wants to win her third title of the season this week.
For a start, both of last year's finalists are back. Anabel Medina Garrigues, who made her Top 20 debut earlier this year and was runner-up at Portoroz last year, is the No.2 seed. The Spaniard won her ninth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title at Fès in the spring, and after being forced to withdraw from Bastad two weeks ago by a left knee injury will be keen to take aim at No.10. The player who beat her for the title here 12 months ago, Sara Errani, returns as the No.5 seed. However the 22-year-old Italian won't have much time to find her footing on the hardcourts, as she arrives straight from her run to the final at Palermo - on clay.
The third seed at the $220,000 International series event is Kaia Kanepi, another recent Top 20 debutante who is No.24 at the moment. Since breaching that elite the powerful Estonian has gone off the boil somewhat, reaching the quarters at Rome in May but subsequently suffering four first round losses. A left knee injury hasn't helped, keeping the 24-year-old out of Birmingham and Eastbourne, but a few weeks away from tournament play should have helped that to heal.
Roberta Vinci, who won the Barcelona title in April unseeded, is the No.4 seed this week, with Russia's Vera Dushevina seeded seventh and Hobart champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic rounding out the seedings at No.8.
While Slovenian tennis heroine Katarina Srebotnik has been forced to pull out of the tournament due to a right shoulder injury, local interest remains strong.
Fast-rising 18-year-old Polona Hercog is a direct entrant with a ranking of No.86, as is 22-year-old Masa Zec Peskiric, who is currently No.101. As well as Croatia's Petra Martic, wildcards have been awarded to Nastja Kolar - who turned 15 just last week - and 18-year-old Tadeja Majeric, who faces the formidable task of playing Safina in the first round on Monday evening.
Wimbledon semifinalist Safina, who is entering her 14th week in the top slot, has won titles this year at Rome and Madrid and been runner-up at four others, including the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
Dushevina and Galina Voskoboeva are the top seeds in the doubles.