WTA Stars Assemble In Paris & Pattaya City
Published Feburary 05, 2012 12:00
Two very picturesque cities - Paris, France and Pattaya City, Thailand - will serve as backdrops this week, as the WTA action resumes after a week off.
Paris will host the Open GDF SUEZ, currently in its 20th year as one of the top indoor stops on the WTA calendar. The Premier-level event boasts an all-star roster of former champions, including eight No.1 players: Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, both Williams sisters, Kim Clijsters, Dinara Safina and Amélie Mauresmo (who is now Tournament Director).
This year three Top 10 players lead the field: World No.3 Maria Sharapova, World No.7 Marion Bartoli and World No.9 Li Na. Sharapova is coming off her sixth Grand Slam final at the Australian Open and a successful weekend in Fed Cup; Bartoli, France's top player by a long way, is playing her first event as a Top 8 player, having been stuck at No.9 for 39 weeks before finally cracking the Top 8 after the Australian Open; and Li is playing her first tournament since losing a dramatic fourth round Australian Open match to Clijsters.
Jelena Jankovic, Sabine Lisicki, Julia Goerges, Roberta Vinci and Anabel Medina Garrigues, all of whom are ranked in the Top 25, round out the seeds. Another player to watch might be Czech Lucie Safarova, who has had particular success at this event - she has been to the final twice, in 2007 and 2010 - in fact, she is the only player in this year's field who has made the final.
Monday will see the doubles begin and the qualifying wrap up in Paris - main draw play is set to begin on Tuesday at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin.
Over in Pattaya City, the 21st annual PTT Pattaya Open will take place, also boasting an impressive line-up of former champions, including former No.2s Conchita Martínez and Vera Zvonareva - the Russian has won it twice.
This year's field is led by Zvonareva, the 2009 and 2010 champion at the International event, followed by Slovakia's Top 2 players, Dominika Cibulkova and 2011 champion Daniela Hantuchova. Maria Kirilenko, Zheng Jie, Galina Voskoboeva, Sorana Cirstea and Vania King round out the seeds.
Other notable names in the draw are two of Asia's all-time best players, Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm (who is tied with Li as Asia's highest-ranked player ever with a career-high of No.4) and Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn (a former Top 20 player whose accomplishments including becoming the first Thai woman ever to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal and to beat a reigning World No.1).