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Peng Headlines in Dallas

Three of the Top 20 have lined up for the inaugural Texas Tennis Open, led by Chinese No.2 Peng Shuai.

Published August 20, 2011 07:08

Peng Headlines in Dallas
Peng Shuai

DALLAS, TX, USA - The WTA returns to Texas for the first time in 16 years this week, for the inaugural Texas Tennis Open. One of two new International stops on the North American summer swing, the $220,000 tournament has attracted three of the Top 20, led by surging Chinese No.2 Peng Shuai.

Overshadowed, inevitably, by Li Na's starry efforts at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, Peng has had a banner year too: The 25-year-old's 48-17 win-loss record is one of the best on the circuit, reflected in her rise of more than 50 ranking places to No.15 in the world. The highest-ranked player without a tour singles title, a trophy could could move her a step closer to joining Li in the Top 10. But will the hip injury that forced her to pull out of her quarterfinal in Cincinnati be an issue? 

Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova is the No.2 seed in Dallas. Consistent results have vaulted the pocket dynamo back into the Top 20 where she belongs but, like Peng, the world No.16 is still seeking her maiden tournament win. Will she be the one to get the monkey off her back in the suburb of Grapevine?

Germany's Julia Goerges, who made her Top 20 debut after a stunning run to the Premier level title at Stuttgart, is seeded third, ahead of former US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer at No.4. Sabine Lisicki, another young German going places after injury troubles, is the No.5 seed - and surely knocking on the door of a Top 20 debut.

Israel's Shahar Peer, the recipient of a wildcard, has snapped up the No.6 seeding, with Jarmila Gajdosova and Irina Camelia-Begu - a two-time finalist this season - rounding out the favorites at No.7 and No.8 respectively.

In addition to Peer, wildcards have been awarded to Melanie Oudin and fellow American Irina Falconi. Oudin faces a particularly tough opener against Peng, while Falconi plays Italian veteran Alberta Brianti.

The Swedish-German duo of Johanna Larsson and Jasmin Woehr are the top seeds in the doubles event.

Texas holds a special place in women's tennis history. Dallas hosted a Virginia Slims tournament from 1972 until 1989, with Martina Navratilova victorious a record nine times.

The Houston Racquet Club was the venue for the Virginia Slims Invitational, the controversial eight-woman pro event mounted by Gladys Heldman in 1970, supported by Billie Jean King and the Original Nine. The city went on to host a Slims tournament for a quarter of a century, with Navratilova, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles among the titlists.

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