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Bartoli Heads Strong Field In Portugal

Marion Bartoli, Dominika Cibulkova and two former French Open champions highlight an extremely strong draw at this week's Portugal Open in Oeiras.

Published April 28, 2013 11:44

Bartoli Heads Strong Field In Portugal
Marion Bartoli

OEIRAS, Portugal - After skipping the opening stanzas of the clay court season - on both sides if the Atlantic - Marion Bartoli belatedly makes a return to the dirt at this week's Portugal Open.

The Frenchwoman, seeded No.1 in Portugal, has to go back to the start of April for her last competitive tennis on tour, a first round defeat to Coco Vandeweghe in Monterrey. Since then, Bartoli has kept herself busy, winning both singles rubbers as she helped France back into the World Group with a convincing Fed Cup victory over Kazakhstan.

While there may be no Top 10 representation in Oeiras, the draw is certainly not lacking in quality. All eight of the seeds are ranked inside the Top 30 and both Bartoli and No.2 seed Cibulkova have fallen victim to this strength in depth.

Bartoli opens her campaign against Peng Shuai, a player she has lost to on four occasions and just last year was ranked inside the Top 20. Should she negotiate this test, she will face Romina Oprandi or Kiki Bertens before a possible quarterfinal against former Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

And the draw has been no kinder to Cibulkova; the opening round has paired her with the ever-improving Urszula Radwanska, with Kaia Kanepi, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Sorana Cirstea all potential quarterfinal foes.

The other bracket in the bottom half promises to be similarly competitive. Clay court standout Carla Suárez Navarro is seeded to make it through, but her progress is far from certain due to the presence of Julia Goerges, Yanina Wickmayer and Francesca Schiavone.

Schiavone, the French Open champion of three years ago, arrives on the Iberian Peninsula fresh from picking up her sixth career title career on Sunday in Marrakech. In the final the Italian defeated Lourdes Domínguez Lino, who by a quirk of fate, and just to emphasize the draw's depth, she will renew hostilities with in the first round.

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