Fantastic Field In Hobart
Published December 12, 2010 12:00
HOBART, Australia - Tennis fans in Tasmania will be treated to an impressive field of players when the Moorilla Hobart International opens in the Australian state's capital city on January 9, the second week of the new season.
Five former Top 10 players lead the way, including previous world No.1 Dinara Safina. The Russian, who hit the pinnacle of the sport in April 2009, should be a huge draw in Hobart as she looks to fight her way back to the top of the rankings. She currently sits at spot No.63 after an injury-riddled year.
World No.16 Marion Bartoli will take the top seeding. The 2007 Wimbledon finalist has won five career WTA titles and will be making her first appearance in Hobart - she was scheduled to play there in 2004 but withdrew due to injury.
Kimiko Date-Krumm and two former champions in Patty Schnyder and Anna Chakvetadze are the three other former Top 10 players in the field. The 32-year-old Schnyder won the title back in 1997, and 10 years later in 2007, Chakvetadze was victorious in her first appearance at the tournament.
They will face a fierce battle against defending champion Alona Bondarenko, who is returning to Tasmania with eyes on her third career title. In 2009, the Ukrainian defeated No.1 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues in the semifinals and followed up that inspired performance with a resounding victory over No.2 seed Shahar Peer for the right to raise the championship trophy.
Tournament director Michael Roberts is pleased with the array of talented players who will be competing in the event. "This is an extremely strong field," he told the Tasmanian Mercury. "Every year we try to assemble players that are exciting and that haven't necessarily been to Hobart before. It will be exciting to see first-time players to our event like Bartoli and Bethanie Mattek-Sands."
Australian hopes will rest on Jarmila Groth, who is coming off a career year where she advanced to the fourth round at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, rose to a high of No.41 and won her first WTA title at Guangzhou.
A slew of other players with impressive resumes and aims to challenge top seed Bartoli for the title will take to the court at the Domain Tennis Centre. They include Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the only teenager ranked in the Top 25. The 19-year-old had a successful 2009, winning her first two career titles and participating in the season-ending Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions. Former champion Zheng Jie, 2009 Australian Open semifinalist, and Tsvetana Pironkova, 2009 Wimbledon semifinalist, are also entered.