Surface: hard outdoor
The China Open, a combined men’s and women’s event, began Saturday (!?!) with women’s play and already No. 5 seed Caroline Wozniacki (lost 6-0 in the third to Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez) is out of the event. Other seeds on the women’s side are (in order) Dinara Safina, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Flavia Pennetta, Ana Ivanovic (who has withdrawn citing an upper respiratory infection), Aggie Radwanska, Nadia Petrova, Marion Bartoli, Sam Stosur, and Na Li.
Gilsela Dulko and Virginie Razzano also pulled with injuries.
Azarenka will meet unseeded Maria Sharapova in the second round. The winner of that will likely face Jankovic next, and Serena Williams to meet the victor in the quarterfinals. Serena and big sister Venus are slated for a possible semifinal meeting.
Excluding the ill Ivanovic, 16 of the Top 16 players are in Beijing this week. Jankovic is the defending champ, and Serena Williams is projected to take over the No. 1 ranking if she can progress further in the draw than Safina.
Rafael Nadal heads the 32-draw men’s field. Other seeds are Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco, Robin Soderling, Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez and Marin Cilic.
Nadal will start against wildcard Marcos Baghdatis, with James Blake waiting in the second round. Other tough openers are (7) Gonzalez vs. David Ferrer, (6) Soderling vs. Jeremy Chardy, and (6) Verdasco vs. (Q) Robby Ginepri. Roddick vs. Djokovic looms in the semifinals.
Roddick is the defending champ in Beijing, but Nadal has a perfect 11-0 record at the site, winning the 2005 title and in 2008 winning gold at the Beijing Olympics.
Rakuten Japan Open Championships 2009
Surface: hard outdoor
The longest-running men’s tournament in Asia, the Japan Open this year features three Top 10 players in US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro and Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon.
Other seeds are Frenchman Gael “Force” Monfils, Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek, Swiss Stan Wawrinka, and former No. 1-ranked Aussie Lleyton “The Lawnmower” Hewitt.
Berdych is the defending champ, and Hewitt won the title in 2001.
Wawrinka will have his hands full in his opener against the big-serving John Isner. Stepanek will start against the explosive (Q) Ernests Gulbis, and Tsonga is looking at a potential second-round meeting against countryman Richard Gasquet.
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