WTA Tour Players Return to Clay at Palermo

Posted on July 7, 2008

PALERMO, Italy -- The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour is transitioning from grass back to clay this week and one of the two stops will be Palermo, for the $145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Palermo. Two of the world's most accomplished clay court players -- Flavia Pennetta and Anabel Medina Garrigues -- lead the seeds, although they aren't the only title threats in the Italian city.

Pennetta and Medina Garrigues, seeded No.1 and No.2, have both won all but one of their career titles on this surface, Pennetta five of six and Medina Garrigues seven of eight. They have also both had impressive clay court records this year, Pennetta going 17-4 (including titles at Vina del Mar and Acapulco) and Medina Garrigues going 14-6 (including a title at Strasbourg). But another thing that separates them from the rest of the field is their history at this event, with Pennetta's best performance being a runner-up finish and Medina Garrigues being a four-time champion (including the last three years she played it, in 2004, 2005 and 2006). Pennetta opens against Sandra Kloesel while Medina Garrigues begins with Alla Kudryavtseva, who is coming off her best career run at Wimbledon, beating Maria Sharapova en route to the fourth round.

France's Aravane Rezai and Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro are the No.3 and No.4 seeds. Both have had strong results on clay this year, Rezai reaching the semis of Fes and Suarez Navarro the semifinals of Bogota and the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, and both could pose some problems for the Top 2 seeds should they meet in the final four. Rezai is on the bottom half of the draw with Medina Garrigues while Suarez Navarro is on the top half of the draw with Pennetta.

Rounding out the seeds are Sara Errani, recent Birmingham runner-up Yanina Wickmayer, Mariya Koryttseva and former Palermo runner-up Tathiana Garbin.

This is the 18th year Palermo has served as a Tour stop. Aside from Medina Garrigues, former champions include Irina Spirlea, Mary Pierce, Dinara Safina, Anastasia Myskina and Agnes Szavay.
-- Courtesy Sony Ericsson WTA Tour