The claycourt season officially begins with two events each on the men’s and women’s tours this week:
Grand Prix Hassan II
Seeds: Stan Wawrinka, Guillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez, Victor Hanescu, Lukasz Kubot, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Simon Greul, Olivier “The Roach” Rochus, Florent Serra
Floaters: Arnaud Clement, Richard Gasquet
Notes: Kubot after a bye could face Clement; the No. 7 seed Rochus opens against Gasquet; “Crazi” Dani Koellerer gets directly in; the Grand Prix Hassan II is entirely funded by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI; defending champ Juan Carlos Ferrero is missing, Kubot won the doubles last year.
US Men’s Clay Court Championships
Houston, Texas, USA
Seeds: Fernando Gonzalez, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Lleyton Hewitt, Evgeny Korolev, Horacio Zeballos, Eduardo Schwank, Mike Russell
Floaters: (WC) Donald Young, Taylor Dent, Mardy Fish, Nicolas Massu, Xavier Malisse
Notes: The most hated man in men’s professional tennis, Wayne Odesnik, is in the Houston draw but not talking to the media; openers of interest include (1) Gonzo after a bye possibly facing (WC) Young, (6) Zeballos vs. Dent; wildcards went to Young, Hewitt, and Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz (who opens against Odesnik); the US Men’s Clay Court Championship began in 1910 in Omaha; Gonzo won the event in 2000, hasn’t played since 2001; Hewitt beat Odesnik in the final last year; Fish won the title in 2006.
The MPS Group Championships
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., USA
Seeds: Caroline Wozniacki, Alona Bondarenko, Dominika Cibulkova, Elena Vesnina, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Aleksandra Wozniak, Virginie Razzano, Melanie Oudin
Floaters: Patty Schnyder, Sofia Arvidsson, Shuai Peng
Notes: Tough road for the top-seeded world No. 2 and defending champion, opening against Schnyder then likely facing former Memphis winner Arvidsson; if Oudin can bypass Paraguay’s Rossana de Los Rios in the first round, she will have a tough second-rounder against Peng; wildcards went to Americans Carly Gullickson and Sloane Stephens, and Japan’s Ayumi Morita.
Andalucia Tennis Experience
Seeds: Victoria Azarenka, Flavia Pennetta, Kim Clijsters, Aravane Rezai, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Maria Kirilenko, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Carla Suarez Navarro
Floaters: Sorana Cirstea
Notes: Tough opener for Kirilenko in Cirstea; not a lot of “Experience” excitement other than Clijsters for some reason being here; Conchita Martinez is the tournament director at Marbella; last year Jelena Jankovic beat Suarez Navarro in the three-set final.
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