Sydney’s Medibank International has it tough – many players are exhausted from the previous week’s warmup, those who are making their 2010 debuts are rusty, and all the top guys go to Kooyong. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t drama. Here’s what’s going on in Sydney so far:
After a smooth opening day for the WTA top seeds on Sunday – both Dementieva and Kuznetsova won their first rounds – Day 2 turned up the upsets. On Monday Jelena Jankovic (7th seed) lost to Agnes Szavay and Caroline Wozniacki (4th seed) went out to Li Na. Both losses come to good competitors, at least, and Wozniacki has the added excuse of coming off a finals appearance vs. Sharapova at the Hong Kong Tennis Classic exhibition this weekend.
It must be hard for JJ to look on the bright side, given she hasn’t played competitively since October and could use some more court time. Maybe she’ll try for the Kooyong spot that Federer gave up! Here’s Jankovic doing damage control (via EarthTimes)
“It was my first match of the season, and I was a little bit nervous, especially not playing for two months. I just want to stay positive, and I hope that I will be ready for Melbourne.”
Yeah, and she better hope she doesn’t get a Belgian in the first round, either.
Speaking of Belgians, Justine Henin pulled out of Sydney after going the distance in Brisbane. Ducking that possible second round match with Serena? Nah. Justine swears it’s a leg strain, reportedly of the left gluteal variety. Get well soon, Justine – you got ’til next week!
Vera Zvonareva made it 6 games further than Justine in Sydney, retiring early in her first round match vs. Elena Vesnina. Her bum ankle is reportedly aggravated due to a recent surgery, and she is now a possible no-show in Melbourne. Can this girl ever get a break?
All these upsets, retirements and withdrawals clear a broad path for Serena Williams, the tournament’s top seed. Henin, Jankovic, Wozniacki and Zvonareva were all in her half of the draw. But her second round match will still be interesting: after the bye she’ll play “cheater” and Hopman Cup winner Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the 2nd round. She could meet Auckland finalist, Flavia Pennetta, in the semis. Pennetta took out Australian sweetheart, Sam Stosur, in the first round.
Dinara Safina anchors the bottom half of the draw, along with countrywomen Elena Dementieva (in Safina’s quarter) and buddy Svetlana Kuznetsova (a possible semifinal opponent.) As of post time, young guns Victoria Azarenka (seeded 6th), Dominika Cibulkova and Agnieszka Radwanska are still alive in the bottom half.
The top seed is gone on the men’s side, with Gael Monfils withdrawing from Sydney with a serious shoulder inflammation. This doesn’t bode well for the flashy Frenchman’s Australian Open campaign (via The Sydney Morning Herald):
“To be honest, I plan to maybe try to hit a little bit middle of this week and try to serve at the end of this week to see. . . I will try to stay positive about my participation for the Australian Open.”
Lucky loser Daniel Gimeno-Travers of Spain will take Monfils’s place. This frees the way considerably for Richard Gasquet, who was slated to meet his countryman in the quarterfinals. Richard beat Feliciano Lopez in the first round and could take on Chennai finalist Stanislas Wawrinka in the semis. Brisbane semifinalist Tomas Berdych is the second seed, with Sam Querrey in his quarter and an in-shape Lleyton Hewitt and shaping-up Marcos Baghdatis possible semifinalist opponents.
Love the hair, F-Lo, but maybe it’s not the good luck charm you were hoping for. I say keep it anyway!
REUTERS/Daniel Munoz via Daylife
Click here for the excellent Medibank International website.
There are other tournaments going on this week, but with the exception of Kooyong, I probably won’t be following them too closely. Click here to visit the WTA Hobart site (Anabel Medina Garrigues and Shahar Peer are top seeds) and here for the ATP Heineken Open in Auckland (Tommy Robredo and David Ferrer are the top seeds. David Nalbandian withdrew with an Australian Open-endangering abdominal injury.)