The top women’s tennis stars are opting for exhibition play or rest as none of the Top 10 players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour are in action as the 2008 season kicks off this week at the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts in Gold Coast, and at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
Former No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo will try and kick-start her 2008 season in Gold Coast where the No. 18-ranked Frenchwoman is the No. 6 seed. Mauresmo’s 2007 season was derailed by a combination of an emergency appendectomy, various injuries and lack of motivation. Mauresmo will open against a qualifier, with No. 4 seed Patty Schnyder lurking in the quarterfinals, and top seed Nicole Vaidisova in the semifinals. Other seeds at Gold Coast are Nadia Petrova, Dinara Safina, Shahar Peer, Sybille Bammer and Agnes Szavay.
No. 22-ranked Vera Zvonareva is the headliner in Auckland, with fellow Russian and poster-model Maria Kirilenko as the No. 2 seed amidst a low-powered field. The floater in the field to watch is the unseeded Lindsay Davenport, who opens against fellow American Laura Granville, with potential meetings including No. 5 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues in the second round, No. 4 Michaelaa Krajicek in the quarterfinals, and Kirilenko in the semis.
Last year Davenport alluded she would retire due to the birth of her first child, but the competition bug had her competing in three events after the delivery of son Jagger. davenport won the title in her first event back in Bali, then reaching the semifinals in Beijing and ended the year with a title win at Quebec City.
Safina is the defending champ at Gold Coast, ousting top seed Martina Hingis in the 2007 final. Jelena Jankovic, the 2007 winner at Auckland, this week opts to represent Serbia at the Hopman Cup. Last year she edged Zvonareva in the three-set final.
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