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2011 Breakthroughs Headline In Auckland

Peng Shuai and Sabine Lisicki soared in 2011 and are the Top 2 seeds at this week's ASB Classic.

Published January 01, 2012 12:00

2011 Breakthroughs Headline In Auckland
Peng Shuai

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - World No.15 Sabine Lisicki leads eight Top 20 players to Auckland this week for the ASB Classic, an International-level stop.

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Lisicki is hot off the heels of a phenomenal 2011, which saw her go all the way from outside the Top 200 in March to No.15 on the year-end rankings. And without any big chunks of points to defend until the grass court season in June, Auckland could be the start of a run to the Top 10 for the young German.

"Sabine is a very likable young woman," said Tournament Director Richard Palmer. "She has always shown exceptional promise and has been one of the biggest movers on the WTA as she begins to fulfill that promise. Hopefully fans will be able to see her playing at her best and witness her big serve."

The first hurdle for Lisicki will be Virginie Razzano, a former Top 20 player on the comeback trail from injury and more recently some personal struggles (read more here). Lisicki and Razzano will be playing for the first time.

Another of 2011's biggest movers, Peng Shuai, is the No.2 seed in Auckland this year. Peng started last year at No.72 and made it all the way up to No.14 in the summer, becoming China's second-highest-ranked player ever (behind Li Na, who has been as high as No.4). Peng finished the year ranked No.17.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, Flavia Pennetta, Julia Goerges, Roberta Vinci, Yanina Wickmayer and Monica Niculescu, all of whom are ranked in the Top 30 as well, round out the Top 8 seeds this week. World No.32 and US Open semifinalist Angelique Kerber is the highest-ranked unseeded player.

"To have four players from the Top 20 and nine players being ranked No.32 or higher makes this year's ASB Classic field outstanding," Palmer added.

The No.1 team in the world, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, are the top seeds in the doubles draw this week. Peschke and Srebotnik won six WTA titles in 2011, most notably their first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. After that triumph they became the co-No.1s in doubles for 10 consecutive weeks and ended up as co-No.2s on the year-end rankings behind Liezel Huber. Srebotnik has a particular affinity for Auckland - she swept the singles and doubles titles back in 2005 (she beat Shinobu Asagoe in the singles final then in a rare encore, partnered with the Japanese afterwards to win the doubles).

Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina, who won two Premier-level titles in 2011 and reached the French Open final together, are the No.2 seeds in the doubles. Their conquerors in that final - hard-hitting Czechs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka - are the No.3 seeds in the team discipline this week.

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