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Radwanska Heads To Belgium For Final Preparations

Agnieszka Radwanska travels to Brussels for her final French Open tune-up, while Francesca Schiavone is in action in Strasbourg.

Published May 20, 2012 10:44

Radwanska Heads To Belgium For Final Preparations
Agnieszka Radwanska

With less than seven days to go before the start of the French Open, this coming week will see some of the WTA's leading players head to Brussels and Strasbourg to dot the i's and cross the t's ahead of the year's second major.

Among them will be Agnieszka Radwanska, who travels to Belgium for the second staging of the Brussels Open. The Pole is top seed at the Premier level event and will be keen to get back to winning ways after a shock early exit in Rome.

This was a rare blip in what has otherwise been an outstanding season for Radwanska, with title runs in Miami and Dubai helping propel her to a career-high ranking of No.3. Her crafty, all-court game is suited to the clay, and with a straightforward draw she could well pick up another title this week.

Out to stop her will be fellow Top 10 resident Marion Bartoli. Like Radwanska, Bartoli fell at the first hurdle in Rome and she will need to be on her guard from the off in the Belgian capital; after a first round bye, she is likely to face the in-form Varvara Lepchenko in the last 16, before a possible quarterfinal meeting with 2011 runner-up Peng Shuai.

Other names of note gracing the courts of the Primrose Royal Tennis Club this year are Dominika Cibulkova, Jelena Jankovic, Kaia Kanepi, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Nadia Petrova.

Two-hundred miles southeast of Brussels a similarly strong field, featuring a former French Open champion and three of the Top 20, has assembled for the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Top seed at the Strasbourg Tennis Club this year is the hard-hitting Sabine Lisicki. After missing much of the European clay court season because of an ankle injury, Lisicki will be desperate for court time this week and kicks off her campaign against talented Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier.

Should she negotiate the opening rounds, though, life will not get any easier, as über-talented Mona Barthel and three-time champion Anabel Medina Garrigues are probable foes further down the track.

The other side of the draw features an interesting mix of youth and experience, including Maria Kirilenko, Marina Erakovic, Tamira Paszek and Sloane Stephens. However, the standout name is 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.

While Schiavone has not had the ideal preparation for her latest Roland Garros title tilt, winning just twice on the dirt all year, she is an old hand when it comes to peaking for the majors; last year she made the semifinals in Brussels before finishing runner-up in the French capital and she will be keen for another confidence-boosting run this week.

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