September 29, 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches

It may not be a Grand Slam, but the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo sure has the ability to attract some real talent in the women's game. With seven of the top ten in the draw and the lowest seed ranked just at twenty, from the start there was the potential for some big-time clashes even in the early rounds.

And the ladies did not disappoint.

Bad Gastein champion Julia Goerges and former world #1 Dinara Safina, both unseeded, met in the first round, as did Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Maria Kirilenko, ranked twenty-fourth and twenty-sixth respectively. And it wasn't just a matter of an unjust draw forcing out some stars early -- just shy of her fortieth birthday, Kimiko Date Krumm ousted Maria Sharapova while teen qualifier Coco Vandeweghe dealt Aravane Rezai another early blow. So now with the quarterfinal matches set in Tokyo, the eight women left certainly deserve to be there.

Top seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who secured her spot in the year-end Doha Championships with her win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, has only dropped seven games on her way to the quarters. There she'll meet Aggie Radwanska, who beat a tough-as-nails Andrea Petkovic in the third round.

Wimbledon and U.S. Open runner-up Vera Zvonareva rebounded nicely from her heart-breaking loss in New York with a solid win over Sara Errani and followed it up by bagelling Roberta Vinci in the second set to reach the final eight. Her next opponent Elena Dementieva, just back in the top ten, survived four breaks of serve in her first two matches, but was impressive getting past world #22 Flavia Pennetta.

The bigger surprises have been in the other quarters, though. While French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and Victoria Azarenka, who exited in Flushing Meadows far too early, have both advanced with little drama, but they both have dates with some unexpected contenders.

Vandeweghe, a former junior champion in New York, battled through the qualifying rounds in Japan -- her first appearance in an overseas tournament's main draw -- and defeated Goerges in under an hour for the right to meet Vika tomorrow. And Kaia Kanepi, who made the quarters at both the All England Club and the U.S. Open, notched her second straight win over Jelena Jankovic -- that after already defeating thirteenth seed Shahar Peer and America's one-time darling Melanie Oudin. She hasn't beaten Schiavone since 2006, but I wouldn't be shocked if she got the upset.

With so much talent in the field at the Pan Pacific, it's no wonder that only the strongest survived. It's a shame anyone has to lose, especially after all the work they've put in to get this far, but such is life on the pro Tour.

But isn't it so much better to watch the best compete?

1 comment:

AirdrieTennis said...

That's what tennis is about, tough matches everywhere in the draw. It's nice to see the women's game getting more competitive again.