JJ Returns To Monterrey

Jelena Jankovic leads the field at this week's Whirlpool Monterrey Open, with defending champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also back.

Published February 27, 2011 12:36

JJ Returns To Monterrey
Jelena Jankovic
MONTERREY, México - Last year Jelena Jankovic was given a cake by the organizers of the Whirlpool Monterrey Open to celebrate her 25th birthday, but was promptly bundled out of the tournament in the first round. Now she's back, turning 26 on Monday, and if the past couple of weeks are any guide should be around longer this time.

Having reached semifinals in back-to-back weeks at Dubai and Doha after a disappointing start to the season - and even more miserable end to 2010 - Jankovic's return to form could not have come at a better time. Next week she heads to Indian Wells to defend the title she won somewhat out of the blue 12 months ago; that means lots of ranking points to protect in the weeks ahead.

But, first things first, the Serbian star is top seed at this $220,000 International event, with an opening round match against recent Bogotá champion Lourdes Domínguez Lino to contend with. Happily for the world No.6, perhaps, the Spaniard must negotiate a quick switch from clay to hardcourts.

Defending champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has returned too, having progressed in the intervening period from being a Top 30 player to a Top 20 player. Still only 19, the highest ranked teenager is still looking to make a big splash at a big event, so perhaps this tournament will set the Russian up nicely for the next month. Assuming she moves past a qualifier in the first round, Pavlyuchenkova will face Vania King or fellow teen Melanie Oudin.

France's Aravane Rezai has dropped a handful of ranking spots this year but will be a contender as No.3 seed, while German fourth seed Julia Goerges will be looking to improve on a lacklustre couple of weeks on the red stuff. Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Jankovic in the aforementioned upset last year, is back as the No.5 seed, with Sara Errani, Iveta Benesova and Polona Hercog holding seedings six through eight.

Elsewhere in the draw, an interesting first round clash features Alizé Cornet against Simona Halep, while freshly crowned Acapulco champion Gisela Dulko faces Benesova first up. Mexican wildcard Ximena Hermoso has drawn a wildcard; Pavlyuchenkova and Rezai hold the other wildcard slots.

Lefty Benesova and fellow Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova will be gunning for their second title of the year as the top seeds in the doubles.

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