WTA New Haven Preview: Kuznetsova Tops Bill

Posted on August 20, 2007

Courtesy WTA Tour

NEW HAVEN, CT, USA -- With little more than a week to go before the start of the year's final Grand Slam, the US Open, seven of the world's Top 20 will assemble in New Haven for the 11th staging of the Pilot Pen Tennis presented by Schick. The $600,000, Tier II event is also the final stop-off in this summer's five-week US Open Series and will give the 28 players on display the opportunity for some invaluable last-minute preparation ahead of Flushing Meadows.

Top seed at the Connecticut Tennis Centre at Yale will be world No.5 and 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 22-year-old Russian waited until last week in Toronto to make her bow on the North American hardcourt swing and she will be looking to build on a quarterfinal finish at the Tier I event. Kuznetsova was a losing semifinalist on her only previous visit to New Haven 12 months ago and in a year which has seen her finish runner-up on four occasions, she will be eager to capture her first title of 2007.

Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova will be the event's No.2 seed and after capturing one American hardcourt title this year -- at Indian Wells -- she will be confident of repeating the trick in the Elm City. The 24-year-old, world No.10, will be making her sixth appearance in the main draw of the tournament, with her best performance coming back in 2002, when she made it all the way to the semifinals before falling to eventual champion Venus Williams.

The No.3 seed in Connecticut is one of last year's losing quarterfinalists, Marion Bartoli. 2007 has certainly been a year to remember for the tenacious Frenchwoman, highlighted by a memorable runner-up finish at Wimbledon -- a performance which rewarded her with a career-high ranking of No.11. New Haven will be the 22-year-olds fourth tournament on the North American hardcourts this summer and she will be keen to improve on her quarterfinal run in Toronto last week.

The remaining seeds are comprised of gifted Russian Dinara Safina (No.4), experienced Swiss campaigner Patty Schnyder (No.5), former US Open runner-up Elena Dementieva (No.6), popular Austrian Sybille Bammer (No.7) and the ever improving Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko (No.8). There are also several dark horses lurking in the draw, including the in-form Indian star Sania Mirza, talented Australian Samantha Stosur and the prodigiously gifted Polish prodigy Agnieszka Radwanska.

Another notable name on the draw sheets in New Haven is three-time Grand Slam winner and former world No.1 Lindsay Davenport. The 31-year-old American will compete in the doubles competition with compatriot Lisa Raymond and her appearance comes just 10 weeks after giving birth to her first child, Jagger Jonathan Leach Davenport. Davenport was winner of the singles competition at the Connecticut Tennis Centre in 2005 and has also been a runner-up on five separate occasions -- including last year.

Justine Henin is the defending champion at the Pilot Pen Tennis presented by Schick, but after competing in Toronto the Belgian has elected not to defend her title. Other players to triumph at the US Open tune-up tournament are Steffi Graf (1998), Venus Williams (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002), Jennifer Capriati (2003) and Elena Bovina (2004). This year's winner will receive a cheque for $88,265, while the losing finalist will take home $45,125.