Azarenka Heads Tokyo; Tennis-X Preview, Review Dish
Toray Pan Pacific Open
Tokyo, Japan; Surface: hard
Seeds: Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Sara Errani, Li Na, Sam Stosur, Marion Bartoli, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Roberta Vinci, Kaia Kanepi, Lucie Safarova, Nadia Petrova
Floaters: Jelena Jankovic, Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges, Shuai Peng, Francesca Schiavone, Sabine Lisicki
Notes: Openers of interest include (3) Radwanska after a bye possibly vs. Jankovic, (17) Petrova vs. Peng, (2) Sharapova after a bye possibly vs. Lisicki; wildcards went to Kimiko Date-Krumm, Caroline Garcia, and Ayumi Morita; Maria Kirilenko was seeded but pulled with a back injury; returning champs in the field are Radwanska (2011), Wozniacki (2010), Sharapova (2009,’05), and Date-Krumm (1995).
Bangkok, Thailand; Surface: hard
Seeds: Janko Tipsarevic, Richard Gasquet, Milos “The Missile” Raonic, Gilles Simon, Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco, Viktor Troicki, Jarkko Nieminen, Bernard Tomic
Floaters: Gael “Force” Monfils, Segiy Stakhovsky, Guillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez, “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic
Notes: (1) Tipsarevic starts after a bye against either Robin Haase or a qualifier; (6) Troicki vs. Monfils likely second round; (3) Raonic after a bye could start against Dr. Ivo; wildcards went to Swiss Marco “Chud” Chiudinelli, and Thailand’s Peerakiat Siriluethaiwattana and Danai Udomchoke; the Top 3 seeds and Tomic are making their debuts at the event; Simon (2009) is the lone returning champ in the field as 2011 champ Andy Murray sits out this week.
Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Surface: indoor hard
Seeds: David Ferrer, Juan Monaco, Kei Nishikori, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, Pablo Andujar, Julien Benneteau, Jurgen “Tuna” Melzer
Floaters: Martin Klizan, Nikolay Davydenko, Vasek “Popsicle” Pospisil
Notes: Last week’s first-time title winner Klizan and Davydenko face each other first round, with the winner likely to face (6) Andujar; (8) Tuna Melzer starts against the Canadian comer Pospisil; American Brian Baker is a direct acceptance, and opens against qualifying countryman Michael Yani; Davydenko (2009) is the lone retuning champ in the field; Tipsarevic (playing in Bangkok this week) won the event last year.
Tsonga Beats Seppi, Repeats as ATP Metz Champ
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost only six points on his serve all day, punishing Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-2 to repeat as champion at the ATP stop in Metz, the Moselle Open.
“I had a complete match with no gaps, as opposed to yesterday,” said Tsonga, who won in under an hour, WTA style. “Of course, it’s a lot easier when I can make a difference in two or three shots. If I had to define this week, I would simply say it was a perfect one.”
It was the ninth career title for Tsonga and second of the year after Doha in January. The 28-year-old Seppi dropped to 2-3 in career finals.
Klizan K.O.s Fognini for 1st Career Title at ATP St. Pete
Slovak and world No. 45-ranked Martin Klizan captured the title Sunday at the St. Petersburg Open in Russia, easing past Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-3.
“It’s always very difficult to play a tournament after Davis Cup,” said Klizan, the first Slovak to win an ATP title since Dominik “The Dominator” Hrbaty in 2004. “I’ve played many matches and it was a tough Davis Cup for us, so it was a very, very tough week this one. I was really dead yesterday after the [semifinal] match.”
It was the first career ATP final for Klizan, who until a few months ago had never won consecutive ATP matches, while the veteran Fognini fell to 0-2 in career finals. “It’s horrible to play a final like this,” said Fognini of his play on Sunday. “I’ve played two finals this year. Simon in Bucharest was a really great final; we played one hour and 50 minutes and I lost. On the court today he played his best tennis ever and I did not play my best tennis for sure.”
Wozniacki Ends 13-month Title Drought at WTA Stop in Korea
Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki did what she does best last week at the KDB Korea Open — vacuuming-up little titles when there are few other top players in sight. The Dane rolled over Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 6-0, with both players rebounding from three-set semifinals the previous day.
“Yesterday was a very difficult match, but the final is the final, and you just do anything you can to win,” Wozniacki said. “Today I did well at turning defense to offense and offense to defense. That’s actually a strength of mine.”
Wozniacki entered the event at No. 11 after holding the world No. 1 ranking entering this year’s Australian Open. She improved to 19-11 in career finals, capturing her first title since August of 2011. Kanepi fell to 3-4 in career finals, and was making her first tour appearance after pulling out of her last 10 scheduled events due to an Achilles injury.
Hsieh Ends Robson Run for WTA Title in Guangzhou, China
Britain’s Laura Robson ran out of gas in the GRC Bank Guangzhou International Women’s Open final, losing to Taipei’s Hsieh Su-Wei 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, but not before becoming the first Brit to reach a WTA final in 22 years. The result kept the streak alive where a Brit woman hasn’t won a WTA title in 24 years.
“After I won the second set and led 3-0 in the third, she started playing well again and made the rallies longer, while I totally ran out of energy,” the 18-year-old Robson said. “I kept fighting but just wasn’t able to hit my shots as well as I had earlier in the match. But the more matches you play the more experience you get, and to play in a really tough final like this one in Guangzhou is a big experience for me.”
The match was ripe with momentum changes as Hsieh led 6-3, 5-3, before the Brit made her comeback. “I’m very happy to play so well in singles this season,” said Hsieh, who improved to 1-1 in career finals. “But even though I’ve done well in singles, I’m going to keep playing doubles too, even more actually — my sister, who is 19 years old, is young and needs my help, so I’m bringing her to WTA tournaments with me. She’s improving fast.”
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