STRASBOURG, France — Final preparations for the year’s second Grand Slam take place this week at concurrent events in Strasbourg, France and Istanbul, Turkey. At the $175,000 Internationaux de Strasbourg it will be Marion Bartoli who tries to win her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title of the season, and first since breaking into the upper echelon of women’s tennis last year.
Bartoli won her first three Tour titles in 2006 at Auckland, Tokyo [Japan Open] and Quebec City, complementing her Top 20 debut that year. Despite not winning a title she went even higher in the rankings in 2007, cracking the Top 10 — and finishing the season there — on the strength of reaching the semifinals or better seven different times, including a memorable run to the Wimbledon final. She has struggled somewhat this year but her best result has come on home turf, reaching the semifinals of Paris [Indoors]. As the highest-ranked player in the Strasbourg field she is the top seed.
A slew of players ranked in the 20s and 30s make up the rest of the seeded contingent, most notably Alona Bondarenko, the No.2 seed. Bondarenko has had her strongest results of the year so far on clay, making quarterfinals at Amelia Island and Berlin, and taking out the likes of Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova along the way. She and Bartoli have met twice before, with the Frenchwoman prevailing in straight sets both times, although neither of those meetings came anywhere near a final, which could be the case this week should the seeds hold.
Virginie Razzano, Flavia Pennetta, Katarina Srebotnik, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Ai Sugiyama — all multiple Tour titlists — are seeded No.3 through No.7. Medina Garrigues may be the most dangerous this week, considering two of her seven career titles came at this very tournament. Yan Zi, who just a few weeks ago cracked the world’s Top 40 for the first time, is the No.8 seed.
– Sony Ericsson WTA Tour
Former champions in the French city include Jana Novotna, Mary Joe Fernandez, Lindsay Davenport, Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, three-time titlist Silvia Farina Elia, Medina Garrigues and Nicole Vaidisova.
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