Azarenka Tops The Bill In Tokyo
Published September 21, 2013 12:00
Though she has missed a few chunks of the season with various injuries, Azarenka - ranked No.2 and seeded No.1 here - has been almost unbeatable when she takes the court, putting together a 42-5 record on the season and picking up titles at the Australian Open, Doha and Cincinnati. She has also been very sharp on these very courts, reaching the quarterfinals or better in all four of her previous appearances (the quarters in 2009, the semis in 2010 and 2011, then the quarters again in 2012).
There's danger lurking very early on, however, as after a first round bye, Azarenka will open against either Mona Barthel - whom she is 4-0 against, but has barely won their last two meetings - or Venus Williams, whom she is 0-2 against, though they haven't played each other since the 2010 season.
Unfortunately there are three very notable absences among the top seeds, firstly World No.1 Serena Williams, who announced her withdrawal from the tournament just a few days ago because of fatigue.
"I am very disappointed to withdraw from the Toray Pan Pacific Open, which I was very much looking forward to playing this year. Unfortunately with the number of matches I have played throughout the summer, I need more time to properly recover. I know that the 30th edition of the Toray Pan Pacific Open will be a fantastic event as always, and I expect to be able to play the China Open in Beijing."
But absolutely everyone else is playing this week, with Agnieszka Radwanska, Sara Errani, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova and Roberta Vinci rounding out the Top 8 seeds, and Sloane Stephens, Carla Suárez Navarro, Ana Ivanovic, Samantha Stosur, Simona Halep, Kirsten Flipkens, Sorana Cirstea and Dominika Cibulkova rounding out the rest of the Top 16 seeds.
Meanwhile, the third WTA 125K Series event of the year, the Yinzhou Bank International Women's Tennis Open, takes place across the way in Ningbo, China, with a field definitely worthy of a WTA-level tournament - Bojana Jovanovski is the No.1 seed, with former Top 20 players Zheng Jie, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Shahar Peer and Virginie Razzano also among those featured in the draw.