May 5, 2009

Setting the Course

The women are following up last week's exciting men's tournament in Rome with their own round of battles at the Internazionali BNL D'Italia, and it could prove to be a solid test for some of the sport's best athletes.

Defending champion Jelena Jankovic faced a bit of a scare in her second round match when Gisela Dulko took her to a tiebreak, but eventually advanced in straight sets. But a rematch of last year's final was precluded when 2008 runner-up Alize Cornet, who's had trouble gaining her footing this year, was demolished by Kateryna Bondarenko.

The tournament also marks the return of Ana Ivanovic as she seeks to defend her French Open crown later this month. She's been pretty quiet so far this year, making it to the finals in Indian Wells, but then losing in the third round in Miami. Current #1 Dinara Safina took nearly two hours to get past Virginie Razzano, and Serena Williams, out to prove she's a force to be reckoned with on clay, hopes to imporove on her first round exit in Marbella last month.

Former top-ten player Anna Chakvetadze put together back-to-back wins for the first time this year as she followed up an upset of sixteenth seen Anabel Medina Garrigues with a tight three-setter against Ponte Vedra Beach finalist Aleksandra Wozniak. And though Elena Vesnina tried to stage her second comeback of the tournament, she ultimately succumbed to China's Jie Zheng, who's finanlly broken into the top twenty.

It's obviously important for all these players to have a strong showing in Rome -- with just a few weeks left until Roland Garros, everyone is trying to make a case for themselves. As it stands, the door leading to the top spot is as wide open as it has been for some time and a couple of big wins could shake up the top-five pretty substantially.

And for those trying to make their first mark of the season, there's never any better time to score an upset than on the red clay of Europe!

1 comment:

Kavitha said...

Well Serena Williams didn't exactly make a case for herself to be reinstated as the #1 player in the world. Despite some strong words earlier this week, she wasn't able to quite back herself up.

In her first match at Rome she showed her vulnerability on clay by losing her second straight match on the surface to Patty Schnyder.

Not exactly the best start to the season.

Meanwhile Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic all advanced as did Serena's sister.

But as I've said, this is obviously the place where the big upsets can happen!