The return of Venus and Serena Williams, both unseeded on the grasscourts at Eastboune after extended injury absenses from the tour, is the news in the final week of grasscourt warm-ups before the spotlight lands on the All England Club and 2011 Wimbledon.
Here is a look at the two ATP/WTA events (combined men’s and women’s events at Eastbourne and ‘s-Hertogenbosch) this week:
Eastbourne, Great Britain
Women’s Seeds: Vera Zvonareva, Li Na, Victoria Azarenka, Francesca Schiavone, Petra Kvitova, Marion Bartoli, Sam Stosur, Andrea Petkovic
Floaters: (WC) Serena Williams, Venus Williams, (WC) Heather Watson, Nadia Petrova, Shuai Peng, Lucie Safarova, Kaia Kanepi, Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges, Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova
Notes: More floater threats than seeds since no one is standing out these days on the WTA tour; the top-seeded Zvonareva opens against the crowd-backed Brit riser Watson, then will likely face Serena in the second round; other tough openers for seeds include (7) Stosur vs. Petrova, (3) Azarenka vs. Peng, (6) Bartoli vs. the free-swinging Safarova, (4) Schiavone vs. Kanepi, (8) Petkovic vs. Venus (winner to play Ivanovic-Goerges winner), and (2) Na vs. Hantuchova 2nd rd.; Serena and Venus on opposite sides of the draw; in last year’s final Ekaterina Makarova beat Azarenka; former champs in the field are Makarova (2011) and Aggie Radwanska (2010); Martina Navratilova won 11 titles at the event, including five-in-a-row and four-in-a-row runs.
Men’s Seeds: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Janko Tipsarevic, Guillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Kevin Anderson, Pablo Andujar, Philipp Kohlschreiber
Floaters: Lleyton Hewitt, Radek “The Worm” Stepanek, James Ward
Notes: If the unseeded former Wimbledon champ and No. 1 Hewitt can manage Olivier “The Roach” Rochus in his opener, he’s looking at a second-round meeting with (2) Dolgopolov; (1) Tsonga looking at a second-round meeting with The Worm; (3) Tipsarevic opens against the Queen’s semifinalist Ward; seeds Tsonga, Stakhovsky, Andujar and Kohlschreiber make their debuts at the event; Michael Llodra won the title last year, but there are no returning champions in the draw.
‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Women’s Seeds: Kim Clijsters, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Yanina Wickmayer, Flavia Pennetta, Dominika Cibulkova, Maria Kirilenko, Roberta Vinci, Klara Zakopalova
Floaters: Kimiko Date-Krumm
Notes: Tough opener for (6) Kirilenko vs. the ageless Date-Krumm; Clijsters first event since meltdown at the French Open; Justine Henin beat Andrea Petkovic in last year’s final; former champs in the field are Anna Chakvetadze (2007), Zakopalova (2005), and Clijsters (2003).
Men’s Seeds: Nicolas Almagro, Marcos Baghdatis, Xavier “X-Man” Malisse, Ivan Dodig, Jarkko Nieminen, Adrian Mannarino, Jeremy Chardy, Daniel Gimeno-Traver
Floaters: Nicolas Mahut
Notes: No Top 10ers in the field; tough opener for (6) Mannarino vs. Mahut; the top-seeded Almagro lost 1st rd. at Roland Garros, and opens against German Michael Berrer; seeds Almagro, Dodig, Mannarino make debuts at the event; Indian Express Mahesh Bhupathi/Leander Paes the top seeds in doubles; former No. 1 Patrick Rafter is the only player to win three consecutive titles at the event, which sees no returning champs in 2011.
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