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Venus Stars As WTA Returns To Brazil

The WTA returns to Brazil for the first time in over a decade next week, with Venus Williams the headline act in Florianopolis.

Published February 23, 2013 11:40

Venus Stars As WTA Returns To Brazil
Venus Williams

In Brazil, soccer is king. But for one week, tennis will take center stage as one of the world's most recognizable sportswomen heads to Florianopolis for the inaugural staging of the WTA Brasil Tennis Cup.

Former World No.1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams has chosen Florianopolis, birthplace of ATP legend Gustavo Kuerten, as the venue for her return from the back injury that has sidelined her since the Australian Open.

The tournament, hosted on the hardcourts of the Federacao Catarinense de Tenis, is the tour's first event in Brazil for more than a decade and brings down the curtain on the WTA's whistle-stop South American swing.

Joining No.1 seed Williams, who faces Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round, will be Yaroslava Shvedova, Kirsten Flipkens, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Kristina Mladenovic.

Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova lead the seeds in doubles.

Ten thousand miles away in Kuala Lumpur, another former No.1, Caroline Wozniacki, will be topping the bill at the fourth staging of the BMW Malaysian Open.

Although yet to scale the heights of previous years, Wozniacki has quietly been playing herself into form in recent weeks and arrives in Malaysia fresh from a semifinal in Dubai.

The Dane's fellow seeds in the draw are a nice mix of youth and experience and include last year's winner, Hsieh Su-WeiAnastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ayumi Morita, Donna Vekic and Eleni Daniilidou.

The No.1 seeds in doubles are Janette Husarova and Zhang Shuai, with 2012 Washington, DC, champs Shuko Aoyama and Chang Kai-Chen seeded second. Chang was victorious in Kuala Lumpur last year alongside Chuang Chia-Jung.

Next week's other International event, the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, takes place in the picturesque Mexican resort of Acapulco, where Carla Suárez NavarroFrancesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta and Alizé Cornet will be among those trying to dethrone reigning champion Sara Errani.

Acapulco was the launching pad of a tremendous clay court season for Errani last year, as it included the start of her 16-match clay court winning streak that also featured titles in Barcelona and Budapest. Furthermore, she went on to her first Grand Slam final at the French Open later in the season.

Errani should enter this event on her favorite surface with plenty of confidence, as her last three WTA outings were a run to the final in Paris [Indoors], a quarterfinal appearance in Doha and another runner-up showing in Dubai.

Errani's victim in last year's final is also back, as fellow Italian Pennetta played for the first time in 2013 this week in her comeback from right wrist surgery. Though it may take a while for her to return to her pre-injury form, she will certainly welcome the sight of the courts at the Fairmount Acapulco Princess. She is 32-6 in her career in Acapulco, including two titles and five runner-up showings.

In fact, Acapulco is a welcome sight to many players, as they have voted it as the WTA's International Tournament Of The Year six times - most recently in 2011.

Top seeds in doubles are Mandy Minella and Megan Moulton-Levy, with Eva Birnerova and Renata Voracova seeded second. Third-seeded Inés Ferrer Suárez and María José Martínez Sánchez could also be a threat, as Martínez Sánchez is a three-time champ in doubles in Acapulco.

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