Published May 01, 2010 12:00
ESTORIL, Portugal - Defending champion Yanina Wickmayer isn't back, but the Estoril Open features plenty of players hoping to emulate the young Belgian, who won her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title at this event last year and has since risen to No.12 in the world.
Seven of the eight seeds at this $220,000 International tournament are in fact former Tour titlists, led by Hungary's Agnes Szavay. Current ranked No.33, Szavay struggled to keep momentum after her breakthrough season in 2007, but last year she triumphed at home in Budapest and has been a consistent performer of late.
Another major talent looking to reassert her credentials is No.2 seed Sorana Cirstea. The young Romanian made a splash in reaching the quarters at Roland Garros last year, but has posted erratic results since then. She knows what it takes to lift a trophy, though, having scored her maiden win at Tashkent in 2008; this could be her moment to start shining again - though she won't be looking forward to her first round match against compatriot Ioana Raluca Olaru.
Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak, who caused a splash when she won Stanford in 2008, will be a threat as the No.3 seed; fourth seed Anabel Medina Garrigues also has what it takes to go the distance on the red clay, if her confidence holds up.
Rounding out the seeds are Melinda Czink at No.5, Magdalena Rybarikova at No.6, Peng Shuai at No.7 and Austrian veteran Sybille Bammer at No.8. Rybarikova has drawn an especially tough first round test in Iveta Benesova, who arrives having won her second Tour title at Fès on Saturday. Peng is the sole seed in Estoril without a Tour singles title to her name, though she has been to three finals.
Wildcards have gone to Michelle Larcher de Brito, Maria Joao Koehler and Magali de Lattre, all of Portugal. Larcher de Brito opens against Alizé Cornet, who showed signs of a resurgence in reaching the semis at Fès last week, while de Lattre faces an uphill battle against Medina Garrigues.