Vera Targets Thai Hat-Trick

Top seed Vera Zvonareva is gunning for a third PTT Pattaya Open title in a row.

Published February 06, 2011 11:47

Vera Targets Thai Hat-Trick
Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko, Vera Zvonareva
PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - Vera Zvonareva already owns two PTT Pattaya Open titles, and in a pre-tournament ceremony this weekend she was honored with the keys to the city. But if the 26-year-old top seed wants to make it three in a row in the Thai tropics as this week, she'll have to overcome one of the most intriguing fields in the event's two-decade history.

Joining the Russian world No.3 in the field is former world No.1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, who takes the second seeding on a ranking of No.19. The popular Serb was beaten by Ekaterina Makarova in the first round of the Australian Open, but will no doubt be keen to re-establish the momentum she built towards the end of 2010, which included a title run at Linz, and of course success at the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali.

If geography means anything, Maria Kirilenko, who is seeded third, could also prove a threat this week. Three of the 24-year-old Russian's WTA singles titles have been won in Asia - Seoul in 2008, Kolkata in 2007, and Beijing in 2005.

Unlike the three seeds above her, fourth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova arrives in town after a rugged weekend of Fed Cup play. The 27-year-old suffered an Achilles strain in Australia, and thereafter played just two matches, which showed as she struggled against Czech lefties Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova in Bratislava. However, that should only make the former world No.5 more dangerous as she strives to get her season back on track.

The second tier of seeds is distinctly Italian and Chinese in flavor: Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani, fresh from helping Italy to a 4-1 Fed Cup win over Australia, are seeded No.5 and No.8 respectively - and also headline the doubles field. China's Peng Shuai, who turned heads with her fourth round run at the Australian Open, is seeded sixth. Her compatriot Zheng Jie, who hasn't played since the US Open due to a left wrist injury, returns to action as the No.7 seed.

Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn, who was runner-up here last year - and incredibly, in 1996 - is back again and faces Japanese youngster Ayumi Morita in the first round. Other local interest rests with the three wildcards: Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, Nudnida Luangnam and Nicha Lertpitaksinchai.

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