Published July 11, 2010 12:00
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Last week Hungary's Agnes Szavay gave local fans plenty to celebrate with her successful title defense at Budapest; this week in Prague the odds are even more stacked in favor of a home win, with no fewer than nine Czechs in the draw of the ECM Prague Open by Glanzis - and another two through to the final round of qualifying.
Leading the charge as top seed at the $220,000 International event is Lucie Safarova. The 23-year-old lefty didn't have much to cheer about during the grass court season - apart from boyfriend Tomas Berdych's run to the Wimbledon final, that is - but on clay in recent months has been a quarterfinalist at Rome and a semifinalist at Madrid and Bastad. Back at No.25 in the rankings, she could better her career-high ranking of No.22 with a title run here - but she'll need to get past dangerous Latvian Anastasija Sevastova first.
Another form player, Warsaw champion Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania, is the No.2 seed in Prague, arriving from a semifinal run at Budapest. Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky, who made the semis here 12 months ago, is the No.3 seed while Czech Klara Zakopalova is seeded fourth - thanks in part to an impressive fourth round effort at Wimbledon.
Czechs also headline the doubles draw, led by top seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, with Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova seeded No.2. Another all-Czech duo sure to draw interest is the twin-sister act of Karolina Pliskova and Kristyna Pliskova, who are the recipients of a wildcard. Kristyna won the girls' singles title at Wimbledon last week, and both sisters have also been granted wildcards into the singles main draw, along with Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas.