The 32 seeds at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells is void of Americans, a glimpse into a Williams-less future for U.S. women’s tennis as the aging Serena and Venus sit on the sidelines due in injury and illness.
Hence the Indian Wells title is anyone’s ball game. The underwhelming world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki? Wanna-be No. 1 Vera Zvonareva? Aussie Open champ Kim Clijsters? The slew of emotionally and physically battered former No. 1s Dinara Safina, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic or Ana Ivanovic? Fragile two-time Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova?
Clijsters could probably take another break, have another kid, and still come back and win in this day and age. Justine Henin, Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati are wondering if it is too late for a wildcard. Martina Navratilova is considering leaving the commentary booth. Somewhere crazy Reverend Margaret Court is probably training for a comeback. It’s up for grabs.
Here’s a breakdown of the four quarters:
Seeds: (1) Caroline Wozniacki, (8) Victoria Azarenka, (9) Aggie Radwanska, (13) Flavia Pennetta, (22) Alisa Kleybanova, (24) Maria Kirilenko, (28) Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, (31) Klara Zakopalova
Floaters: Anna Chakvetadze
Wildcards: Sloane Stephens, Jill Craybas
Notes: Woz gets a bye and starts against Stephens or a qualifier, then (28) Martinez Sanchez; (24) Kirilenko vs. Chakvetadze upset alert 2nd rd.; easy draw for (8) Azarenka, should meet the winner of (1) Woz vs. (13) Pennetta or (22) Kleybanova in the quarters; dullest/easiest section of the draw.
Seeds: (4) Sam Stosur, (7) Na Li, (11) Svetlana Kuznetova, (16) Maria Sharapova, (18) Nadia Petrova, (20) Aravane Rezai, (26) Daniela Hantuchova, (27) Alexandra Dulgheru
Floaters: Dinara Safina, Shuai Peng
Wildcards: Christina McHale
Notes: The Russian-heavy section of the draw could see Safina vs. (26) Hantuchova 2nd rd., and (11) Kuzy vs. (18) Petrova 3rd rd.; all-Chinese meeting (7) Li vs. Peng looming 2nd rd., and (16) Sharapova vs. (4) Stosur 4th rd.; don’t see a finalist coming out of this section but stranger things have happened.
Seeds: (5) Francesca Schiavone, (2) Vera Zvonareva, (10) Shahar Peer, (14) Kaia Kanepi, (17) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, (23) Yanina Wickmayer, (25) Dominika Cibulkova, (30) Tsvetana Pironkova
Floaters: Patty Schnyder, Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Wildcards: Lauren Davis, Vania King, Sania Mirza
Notes: Clijsters is world No. 2, but No. 3 Zvonareva also has her eyes on the prize for an appearance at No. 1 with Henin and the Williams sisters out of the game (if Safina and Jankovic and Ivanovic get a turn, why not her); (30) Tsvetana Pironkova looking at the wily Schnyder in the second round; the 3rd quarter is the dumping ground for also-ran Americans with Mattek-Sands, King and flame-out Melanie Oudin; Zvonareva should walk through.
Seeds: (2) Kim Clijsters, (8) Jelena Jankovic, (12) Petra Kvitova, (15) Marion Bartoli, (19) Ana Ivanovic, (21) Andrea Petkovic, (29) Jarmila Groth, (32) Julia Goerges
Floaters: Kimiko Date-Krumm, Lucie Safarova
Wildcards: Coco Vandeweghe, Alison Riske
Notes: Clijsters vs. Jankovic QF seems likely, but some young guns in the section in Kvitova and Petkovic, and the hot-and-cold Bartoli; (21) Petkovic vs. Safarova looming 2nd rd., and prospect of (19) Ivanovic getting beaten by 40+ year old Date-Krumm 2nd rd.; all-Serb Jankovic vs. Ivanovic possible 4th rd.
The qualifying is also underway in Indian Wells. Canadian Rebecca Marino is the top seed. Other notables are Alize Cornet, Heather Watson (lost 1st rd.), Mirjana Lucic, Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak (lost 1st rd.), 16-year-old American Madison Keys (won 1st rd.), former world No. 1 junior Arantxa Rus (lost 1st rd.), and Americans Madison Brengle and Irina Falconi who lost 1st rd.
A Wozniacki vs. Clijsters final is probably the best you could hope for out of this. Breakthroughs from the lesser players look few and far between on the current WTA player landscape.
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