PUNE, India - The first of the inaugural WTA $125s was held last week indoors in Taipei, and the second and final of the season is this week's Royal Indian Open outdoors in Pune. Hyderabad (2003 to 2005) and Bangalore (2006 to 2008) are the only other cities in India to host WTA-level tennis.
The favorite in many people's eyes and surely the star attraction in Pune will be Andrea Petkovic. Since returning to action in August after being out four months with a right ankle injury, the former Top 10 player has had mixed results. But at her last event in Luxembourg in October, Petkovic had her best result of the year - a run to the semifinals, where she lost a tight three-setter to eventual champion Venus Williams.
The lone Top 100 player in the field is top-seeded Nina Bratchikova. The Russian is having the most-accomplished year of her career, with quarterfinal showings in Monterrey in February and Baku in July her best WTA outings to date. She also had her best Grand Slam result in reaching the third round at the Australian Open in January.
Two Japanese players coming off semifinal showings in Taipei are in the draw - No.2 seed Misaki Doi and Kurumi Nara. Doi also reached the final four in Osaka last month for her best career WTA outing. Fellow Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm was a quarterfinalist in Taipei and is also in Pune.
Playing a non-ITF event for the first time since becoming the youngest player to make a WTA final in six years in Tashkent in September, third-seeded 16-year-old Croat Donna Vekic will surely garner a lot of attention.