March 4, 2009

The New Mexico

This year ushered in a brand new tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, and while many of the top women athletes took the week off to prepare for Indian Wells, some bright stars were still showcasing their stuff.

Polish teenager Aggie Radwanska claimed the top seed, but she continued to struggle, losing in the first round of her third contest this year -- fifty-third ranked Na Li swept the third set 6-0, for the right to advance.

Other seeds saw better luck in Monterrey, though -- #2 Marion Bartoli continued her comeback, flying over qualifier Michaella Krajicek in straight sets, while last week's runner-up in Acapulco, Flavia Pennetta, only dropped one game to the U.S.'s Jill Craybas.

But there were some new standouts on display in Mexico as well. Argentine Gisela Dulko isn't exactly new to the tennis scene, and actually had been ranked as high as #26 in 2005 -- but she made her splash at this year's Australian Open, when Serena Williams gave herself a "D-" score in her match against Gisela. Since then Gisela posted wins in both of her Fed Cup matches against the U.S. and made it to the finals at the Colsanitas Cup in Bogota. In Monterrey Dulko was given the seventh seed, and won her first round match against veteran Natalie Dechy. We'll see if she's able to follow through and win her first title of the year.

On the other side of the draw, sixth-seeded Iveta Benesova is having her best year ever, climbing to a career-high #31 ranking. The Czech star did lose her one Fed Cup match even as her team advanced to the semifinals, but she did make it to the finals in Hobart -- where she eliminated Dulko in the quarters -- and the semis in Acapulco. In her first round in Mexico this week she faced Shahar Peer, who's recently been in the news more for her country's politics than for her tennis prowess. Iveta took out the former top-twenty player in straight sets and next faces Italy's Roberta Vinci for the third round.

These new tournaments could prove to be a great opportunity for young stars to make their names known in the tennis world -- and I hope to see a lot more success for these girls in the weeks and months to come!


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