10 Things To Know: Stanford & DC
Published July 27, 2014 12:15
Every week on wtatennis.com we'll bring you 10 of the most important things to know - who's playing, upcoming milestones... this week the Road To Singapore goes through Stanford and Washington DC.
1) The Emirates Airline US Open Series kicks off in Stanford this week.
The Emirates Airline US Open Series is a journey linking up the four Premier-level summer hardcourt events leading up to the US Open - Stanford, Montréal, Cincinnati and New Haven. Players who perform the best during the lead-up are eligible for bonus payouts at the big one - the US Open.
2) Serena Williams leads an absolutely packed field in Stanford.
Fans heading to the Bank Of The West Classic are in for a treat. Not only does the first leg of the Emirates Airline US Open Series boast four Top 10 players - Serena Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka - but it has another five Top 20 players, namely Ana Ivanovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Carla Suárez Navarro, Andrea Petkovic and Sam Stosur, and Venus Williams too.
3) Serena is looking to get back on the winning track.
Serena Williams may not have won any Grand Slams yet this year, but the summer hardcourt season has always been her stronghold - she has won the US Open the last two years, the only Grand Slam she has conquered twice since coming back from her year-long injury and illness lay-off, and she has also won Stanford the last two times she has played it, in 2011 (beating Marion Bartoli in the final) and in 2012 (beating CoCo Vandeweghe in the final). She's on a nine-match winning streak at this event.
4) Azarenka and Venus were some pretty amazing late additions to the draw.
Victoria Azarenka and Venus Williams - both former World No.1s and multiple Grand Slam champions - are among the wildcard entrants into the draw in Stanford. And they're both former champions at this event, too, with Azarenka winning the title in 2011 and Williams doing it twice, in 2000 and 2002.
5) Ana Ivanovic is trying to become the first player to 40 this year.
Ana Ivanovic is currently the WTA's match win leader for the year with 39 to her name. She'll play Sabine Lisicki in the first round, and it could be a good one - Lisicki just beat her at Wimbledon.
Ivanovic has only reached 40 WTA-level match wins in a season twice before, in 2007 (reaching 40 in August and finishing the year with 51) and 2013 (her last match win of the year was her 40th).
6) There's a packed field heading to Washington DC, too.
The International-level Citi Open may not be part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, but it's got a fantastic field regardlesss, with Lucie Safarova, Ekaterina Makarova, Alizé Cornet and Sloane Stephens the Top 4 seeds. Safarova is coming off the best two weeks of her career, reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon - and bursting back into the Top 20 in the WTA Rankings after.
7) Sloane Stephens is also trying to get back on the winning track.
Going into Wimbledon, Sloane Stephens was firmly in the Top 20, had not lost in the first week of a Grand Slam since 2012 and had a legendary coach by her side. All that has changed now - she fell first round at the All-England Club, subsequently fell out of the Top 20 and split with Paul Annacone.
But for someone with so much talent and so many big results in the past - obviously the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2013, but also all kinds of deep runs at the Grand Slams and wins over Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova - the American No.2 certainly can never be underestimated.
Stephens, the No.4 seed in DC, opens her campaign against fellow American Christina McHale.
8) Some of the best teams in the world headline the doubles draws.
Three of the Top 8 teams on the Road To Singapore doubles leaderboard are in action this week, with Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears and Russian-Australian duo Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova playing in Stanford and Cara Black and Sania Mirza playing in Washington DC.
9) WTA Trivia: Venus Williams is playing the Bank Of The West Classic in Stanford for the ninth time in her career and has reached the final in seven of her eight previous appearances - two titles, five runner-up finishes. When was the only time she lost before the final, and who bounced her?
10) Go to WTA TV developed by Xerox to find out where you can watch Stanford on TV!
** Answer: Venus Williams lost to fellow American Meghann Shaughnessy in the quarterfinals of the Bank Of The West Classic in Stanford in 2001, her only pre-final loss at the event. Shaughnessy had to go to the ends of the Earth to do it - she edged then-future World No.1 Williams, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(4).