Published January 01, 2011 12:00
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The ASB Classic delivers star WTA names year after year, and this year will be no different, as Maria Sharapova leads a packed field to Auckland in the very first week of the 2011 season.
Sharapova, a former No.1 with three Grand Slam titles, including just across the water at the Australian Open in 2008, will be the No.1 seed, hoping to add to her career haul of 22 WTA titles. She opens against Carla Suárez Navarro, who could be trouble for the No.18-ranked Sharapova, given she has three Top 20 wins to her name (two of those came during the Australian season in 2009).
The No.2 seed is Yanina Wickmayer, also the defending champion here. Wickmayer won her first 11 matches of the year last year, a run that included winning this title. She has a tough test in her opening match however, as she drew former No.1 Dinara Safina. The two have never played each other.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former No.2, is the No.3 seed. Julia Goerges, Anastasija Sevastova, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Elena Vesnina and Sofia Arvidsson are seeded No.4 through No.8, with Date-Krumm in particular attracting attention, given she finished 2010 ranked in the 40s - while at the same time being in her 40s (she turned 40 in September).