For a preview of the bleak future of American tennis without the Williams sisters, check out the just-release draw for the 2010 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells — 16 seeds, and none of them American.
Venus and Serena Williams have annually skipped Indian Wells since 2001 when they were booed by the crowd when Venus pulled out citing injury right before the start of the all-Williams quarterfinal. Their dad Richard subsequently cited racist remarks from fans in the stadium. They haven’t been seen at the event since.
Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova is the unlikely headliner this week in Indian Wells, joined by fellow Top 8 seeds Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Elena Dementieva, Aggie Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic, Na Li and Sam Stosur. Not exactly your “sea of stars” here.
In the top quarter Kuzy can look forward to a meeting with No. 14 seed Kim Clijsters in the fourth round, and probably Jankovic in her way to gain the semifinals.
Azarenka is the big dog in the second quarter, and receives a very cushy draw until the quarterfinals where she will face whoever emerges from the scrum of No. 13 Yanina Wickmayer, No. 21 Daniela Hantuchova and Melanie Oudin. The winner of that will face either No. 8 Stosur, No. 12 Vera Zvonareva, or No. 24 Ana Ivanovic to emerge into the semifinals.
Where did wildcard Justine Henin land? In the third quarter, opening against Slovak Maggie Rybarikova. Also in her path: No. 31 Gisela Dulko, No. 5 Radwanska, No. 11 Bartoli, then probably No. 4 Dementieva to reach the semis. Radwanska will have a tough opener against either Anna Chakvetadze or Anne Keothavong after a bye.
No. 7 Li is the top seed in the fourth quarter, but all eyes will be on No. 10 seed Maria Sharapova, who after a bye will meet the winner of Jelena Dokic and Vera Dushevina — either a former Top 5er or another Russian, either should be interesting. Whoever emerges from the Li-Sharapova fourth-rounder will face either No. 2 Wozniacki, No. 16 Nadia Petrova or No. 32 Maria Kirilenko probably.
Besides Oudin, the slim American hopes rest with the newly-fit (WC) Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 30+ Jill Craybas, (WC) Alexa Glatch, Vania King and (WC) Christina McHale (who play each other first round), and any American who makes it through the qualifying.
An all-Belgian final between No. 14 Kim Clijsters and unseeded Justine Henin might be a good place to put your money.
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