Published January 08, 2011 12:00
HOBART, Australia - Dinara Safina must wonder what she has done to deserve her rotten luck of late. Having drawn defending champion Yanina Wickmayer in the first round at Auckland last week, the Russian former world No.1 faces top seed Marion Bartoli first up at the $220,000 Moorilla Hobart International.
Frenchwoman Bartoli showed blistering form in Brisbane last week, and was seemingly on track to reach the final until Andrea Petkovic hit a purple patch in their semi. Despite that loss the world No.13 is clearly in great shape, having spent extra weeks Down Under during the pre-season; she wants to be considered a contender at the Australian Open, and will take this week very seriously indeed.
The world's highest-ranked teenager, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, fell in the quarters at Brisbane but as the No.2 seed she, too, will expect bigger things of herself here. Having pocketed her first two WTA singles titles last year, she knows what it takes - and should be buoyed by a doubles title run at Brisbane with Alisa Kleybanova.
Tsvetana Pironkova, the Bulgarian surprise Wimbledon semifinalist, is seeded No.3, with wily Italian Roberta Vinci seeded fourth. Among the second tier of seeds, No.5 Klara Zakopalova faces a tricky opener against Melanie Oudin, while local hopes rest on the capable shoulders of No.6 seed Jarmila Groth, who shocked fellow Aussie Sam Stosur in Brisbane - and won her first title at Guangzhou last year.
Sara Errani and Angelique Kerber round out the seeds at No.7 and No.8 respectively, with Kerber due to face Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first round. Wild cards awarded to popular veteran Alicia Molik and Australian youngsters Olivia Rogowska and Sally Peers.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy are the top seeds in the doubles. Mattek-Sands arrives in Tasmania on a high, after winning the Hopman Cup for the United States, partnering John Isner. But in singles the charismatic American must front up for a difficult opener against Pavlyuchenkova.