On fire: Maria Sharapova

What can I say about Sharapova that has not already been said. She's the most popular WTA player. Although she was early compared to Kournikova due to her beauty, it was soon revealed that she was also a great player. Not only she had the looks, she had the power and most important the attitude and determination to become a champion. And she did as she got the Wimbledon title at 2004 and reached world No. 1 in 2005.

On a site devoted to WTA hotties we couldn't miss Sharapova.She may not be your favorite but no one can deny that Maria is damned HOT. Furthermore she's interested in fashion, modeling and acting, so she has delighted her fans with gorgeous photoshoots. She was even featured on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 2006 in a very sexy photoshoot. You can watch her gallery (including Sports illustrated photoshoot) here

Although she's a Grand Slam winner and former WTA #1, it seems that she still has to prove she's a great tennis player just because she's pretty and popular. And it seems that on 2008 she's decided to clear it up. After two months, no one has been able to beat her. 14 victories and no defeats. 2 titles (Australian Open and Doha) and leading Russia in her first appearance ever in Fed Cup. And the most important thing is the superiority that she has showed in most of them, 12 out of 14 rivals were unable to take more than 8 games of her. With Henin and the Williams sisters in a slump, this could be the year of Sharapova's dominance. At least this beginning of season she's on fire.


Latent heat: Dominika Cibulkova

18 years old Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova is one of the most promising players on WTA Tour. She got into the spotlight in 2007, when she climbed more than 100 places in the ranking to reach the Top 50. But she had still to get a big win over a top player or a remarkable result in an important tournament to get more attention.

And she has done in 2008. In the first Tier I of the season, in Doha, she has reached the quarter finals. And what is more important, she got very convincing victories over top players Lucie Safarova (WTA #39), Patty Schnyder (WTA #12) and Venus Williams (WTA #7) in straight sets. There she was defeated by one of the best players in 2008 season so far, Agnieszka Radwanska, in a though match decided in the third set. With these results she has broken into the Top 40.

Furthermore, Dominika is considered by many fans as one of the hottest players. Although she's not very tall (only 161 centimeters), she has already done modelling and photoshoots. With remarkable blue eyes and a very sexy mouth, she's one of the prettiest faces on Tour.
You can watch her gallery here.


Player of the week: Nuria Llagostera

Spanish player Nuria Llagostera enjoyed her best season in 2005 winning her first WTA title at Rabat and reaching a career-high ranking of #35. But then on 2006 she suffered a severe wrist injury that kept her away for almost a year. She succesfully came back on 2007 reaching the semis in Estoril and winning 3 ITF events, but different physical problems prevented her for playing regularly and wasn't able to reach Top 100 again. Nevertheless she climbed from #686 in February to #145 in November.

But this 2008 she's finally back at her best. She showed early signals of recovery at Fed Cup, where she defeated WTA #23 Francesca Schiavone in Italy, and going through the qualy to reach the quarters in Viña del Mar. And this week she has definitively confirmed it with a fantastic performance in Bogota, where she gone through the qualy to win the tournament with 8 victories in a row without dropping a set (and dropping no more than 6 games on any match). She's already in the Top 80 and will get higher as she has little points to defend.
We're glad to see cute Nuria back at her best.

WTA ranking as of 25-Feb-2008

Ana Ivanovic gets back to #2 and Daniela Hantuchova gains one spot to #7 in this week WTA Top Ten. Doha runner-up Vera Zvonareva moves from #27 to #21 and semifinalist Na Li climbs from #29 to #22. Good climb also for Bogota's runner-up Maria Emilia Salerni from #88 to #65, but greatest gainer of the week is Bogota's champion Nuria Llagostera who moves 40 spots up to #74.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Justine Henin


2(2)Ana IvanovicSRB382218
3(3)Svetlana Kuznetsova


4(4)Jelena JankovicSRB367026
5(5)Maria SharapovaRUS352613
6(6)Anna ChakvetadzeRUS283523
7(8)Daniela HantuchovaSVK267726
8(7)Venus WilliamsUSA264514
9(9)Marion BartoliFRA219829
10(10)Serena WilliamsUSA202211


Week #09 preview: Dubai, Acapulco, Memphis

Dubai (UAE), Tier II, $1,500,000
Despite being a Tier II, Dubai tournament always shows a great field according to big money prize. This year it won't be an exception and it will feature the Top 6 players in the world: Justine Henin, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Maria Sharapova and Anna Chakvetadze. Almost all the players in the Main Draw are ranked in the Top 30, so though matches are expected from the first round.

Acapulco (MEX), Tier III, $180,000

American clay season ends in turistic city of Acapulco, which will also hold an ATP event at the same time. Clay specialist from Italy, Spain and Argentina will be again the main contenders for the title.

Memphis (USA), Tier III, $175,000
Another combined ATP and WTA event will take place in Memphis. This tournament has attracted some WTA stars such as Venus Williams, Tatiana Golovin, Shahar Peer and Lindsay Davenport, which will the top favorites for the title, although upcoming youngster Caroline Wozniacki should be also taken into account.

Week #08: Sharapova wins Doha and remains unbeaten in 2008

Maria Sharapova remains unbeaten in 2008 after her victory in Doha and conquered her 2nd title of the year after US Open. Sharapova enjoyed an easy draw as she didn't have to face any Top 20 player. Despite the great field, many top players showed that they are not at their best, therefore the tournament was plenty of upsets and from the Top 10 just Sharapova and Jankovic reached the quarters. On the other hand, two of the best players in this 2008 season beggining, Agnieszka Radwanska and Na Li, confirmed their good form reaching the semis. But the most nice susrprise was the recovery of former Top 10 Vera Zvonareva which, after three seasons plenty of injuries and physical problems, progressed to the final where she even managed to get a set from Sharapova.

In Bogota the week was also plenty of surprises, as three qualifiers reached the semifinals (Bettina Jozami, Nuria Llagostera and Carla Suarez), which were completed with Maria Emilia Salerni in an Spanish/Argentinian affair. Nuria Llagostera completed a fantastic week winning 8 matches in a row without dropping a set. After missing 2006 season due to a wrist injury and a progressive comeback on 2007 limited by physical problems, the Spanish is finally back on Top 100 after winning her 2nd career WTA title.

Doha (QAT), Tier I, $2,500,000

Final: Maria Sharapova (RUS) def Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6/1 2/6 6/0

Bogota (COL), Tier III, $185,000

Final: Nuria Llagostera (ESP) def. Maria Emilia Salerni (ARG) 6/0 6/4


Hot shot: WTA stars in Qatar

Doha players presentation is always remarkable as players are dressed in typical Arabic dresses. In the front row and from left to right Top 10 players Venus Williams, Anna Chakvetadze, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic


Player of the week: Karin Knapp

Italian Karin Knapp enjoyed her best tournament ever as she reached her first WTA final in Antwerp. And she did in a Tier II which included names such as Justine Henin, Anna Chakvetadze or Daniela Hantuchova. As WTA #47, Knapp was unseeded and had to fight to overcome French Nathalie Dechy and Russian Yaroslava Shvedova in the early rounds. But the best was still to come for Knapp, as in the quarters and semis she upsetted 4th seed Patty Schnyder and 9th seed Na Li respectively to book her place in the final. Only world's number 1, Justine Henin, was able to beat her.

WTA ranking as of 18-Feb-2008

Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic exchange #2 and #3 spots in the only change of WTA Top Ten. Agnieszka Radwanska breaks into Top 20 and achieves career-high ranking. Antwerp finalist Karin Knapp climbs from #47 to #36 while semifinalist Timea Baczinski is the greatest gainer going from #94 to #61.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Justine Henin


2(3)Svetlana Kuznetsova


3(2)Ana IvanovicSRB375817
4(4)Jelena JankovicSRB369526
5(5)Maria SharapovaRUS306112
6(6)Anna ChakvetadzeRUS283522
7(7)Venus WilliamsUSA272014
8(8)Daniela HantuchovaSVK268727
9(9)Marion BartoliFRA219829
10(10)Serena WilliamsUSA202211


Week #08 preview: Doha, Bogota

Doha (QAT), Tier I, $2,500,000
WTA Tour goes to Qatar for the first Tier I of the season. Big prize money always ensures a great field and this year won't be an exception. 8 of the Top 10 players and 24 of the Top 30 will be present. Russians Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova and Serbians Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic will be the top favorites, but players such as Venus Williams and Anna Chakvetadze must be always taken into account.

Bogota (COL), Tier III, $185,000
The second South-American tournament will feature almost the same players as Viña del Mar last week. Last week winner Flavia Pennetta will be again the top favorite for the title.

Week #07: Henin wins at home

Belgium crowd was delighted with the victory of local hero and world #1 Justine Henin, who didn't need to play her best tennis to get the title in a tournament plenty of surprises. While Paris finalists Anna Chakvetadze and Agnes Szavay suffered early losses, three qualifiers advanced to the quarter-finals: Alisa Kleybanova, Sofia Arvidsson and Timea Baczinski, who defeated Top 10 Daniela Hantuchova for a place in the semifinals. But the biggest surprise was 20 yo Italian Karin Knapp, who defeated 4th seed Patty Schnyder and 9th seed Na Li to reach a WTA final for the first time in her career. The draw was easy for Henin, who just needed to beat three qualifiers and WTA #47 Knapp to get her 41th WTA title, although she dropped sets to Pironkova and Baczinski.
On the other hand, Flavia Pennetta got the title in the first edition of new WTA tournament in Viña del Mar. Withdrawal of 2nd seed Gisela Dulko due to an injury made the things even easier for the Italian, who didn't drop a set in the whole week. Runner-up was Czech Klara Zakopalova.

Antwerp (BEL), Tier II, $600,000

Final: Justine Henin (BEL) def Karin Knapp (ITA) 6/3 6/3

Viña del Mar (CHI), Tier III, $200,000

Final: Flavia Pennetta (ITA) def. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 6/4 5/4 ret.


Hot news: Seles Announces Retirement From Professional Tennis

Source: Sony Ericsson WTA Tour

"Tennis has been and will always be a huge part of my life. I have for some time considered a return to professional play, but I have now decided not to pursue that," Seles said. "I will continue to play exhibitions, participate in charity events and promote the sport, but will no longer plan my schedule around the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. I look forward to pursuing other opportunities with the same passion and energy that fueled my dedication to tennis and to devoting more time to two of my passions - children and animals. I especially want to thank all my wonderful, loyal fans for all of their support for me over the years. They have inspired me throughout my career in the good times and comforted me in the bad times. I have always been so proud to have such a special group of precious fans to call my very own and felt they were the best an athlete could ever hope to have. I will miss them all as much as I will miss competing in the game of tennis."
"Monica Seles is one of the great champions in the history of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and an inspiration and role model for millions of fans throughout the world," said Larry Scott, Chairman & CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. "No one will ever forget the fierce determination and will to win that Monica brought to the court, nor the caring and warm person that she has always been off the court. Fans of women's tennis have no shortage of fond Monica memories and of amazing matches and rivalries that Monica was a part of. No doubt, Monica will soon find her rightful place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame for her many accomplishments on the tennis court."

... read more


Latent heat: Yanina Wickmayer

After Kim Clijsters retirement, Belgian fans are looking for a young player that could take the relay when Justine Henin decides to quit. And they have found. Her name is Yanina Wickmayer. 17 yo Wickmayer was just a promising junior until July 2007. Then she got her first victory for the Belgian Fed Cup team defeating Zi Yan and got her first victory on the ITF Tour. But the best was still to come and between October and November Yanina reached ITF finals 4 weeks in a row, winning three titles and scoring and incredible 19-1 victory record. She climbed from #399 in July to #175 at year-end.

So there were high expectatives about her performance in 2008. And, although the beggining wasn't too good, as she failed to qualify for the Australian Open, it hasn't taken too long to confirm the expectatives and it was again defending Belgium in Fed Cup. She scored two big wins in Ukraine defeating local idols Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko, WTA #22 and #43 respectively, in straight sets. This week she received a WC in home tournament at Antwerp and she didn't dissappointed her Belgian fans and got her first victory in a WTA tournament main draw by defeating Chinese Shuai Peng 6/0 6/4. Top Ten Daniela Hantuchova send Yanina back to Earth on the 2nd round.

Belgian media has already has crowned her as the "Belgian Sharapova" and they resemble not only in their tall and slim figure, but also their game style and attitude is similar. Many people predicts she is a potential Top 10, but we can say she already is a WTA hottie.


On fire: Agnieszka Radwanska

18 years old Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland is one of the most promising players on WTA Tour. Although she had already captured her first WTA title in Stockholm and defeated players such as Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva, it wasn't until US Open 2007 when she got all the attention after defeating defending champion Maria Sharapova in the 3rd round.

On Australian Open 2008 she has extended this seed-upsetting streak after defeating 2nd seed Svetlana Kuznetsova on 3rd round and 14th seed Nadia Petrova for a place in the quarter-finals, her best Grand Slam result so far. Furthermore, this week she has captured her 2nd WTA title in Pattaya and next week she will get into the Top 20.
Maybe she's not as hot as Sharapova or Ivanovic, but this 2008 season she's on fire.

You can watch her gallery here


Player of the week: Anna Chakvetadze

After her fantastic 2007 season, highlighted by 4 WTA titles, semifinals at US Open and WTA Championships and quarter-finals at Australian Open and Roland Garros, Australian Open 2008 was a bit dissapointing for Anna Chakvetadze, as she didn't play her best and was defeated by Maria Kirilenko in the third round. But she seems to be getting her best tennis back, after winning the decissive point for Russia in Fed Cup, this week Anna captured her 7th WTA title in Paris.

But her way to the title wasn't easy at all, as she had to face home favorites Natalie Dechy, Amelie Mauresmo and Marion Bartoli on her way to the final. She even had to come back from a set down in the matches against Mauresmo and Bartoli. She also needed a third set to defeat Hungarian sensation Agnes Szavay in the final. First title of the year for Anna, and probably not the last.

WTA ranking as of 11-Feb-2008

Anna Chakvetadze gains one spot up to #6 after her victory on Gaz de France Open.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Justine Henin


2(2)Ana IvanovicSRB382718
3(3)Svetlana Kuznetsova


4(4)Jelena JankovicSRB369526
5(5)Maria SharapovaRUS306112
6(7)Anna ChakvetadzeRUS292522
7(6)Venus WilliamsUSA272014
8(8)Daniela HantuchovaSVK268226
9(9)Marion BartoliFRA219829
10(10)Serena WilliamsUSA202211


Hot shot: Madrid Fashion Week, Hantuchova on the catwalk

Week #07 preview: Antwerp, Viña del Mar

Antwerp (BEL), Tier II, $600,000

Amelie Mauresmo, who got the coveted diamond-studded racket last year after her three straight titles at Antwerp, won't be defending her title. But this time Belgian fans will enjoy world #1 and local hero Justine Henin, who will be the favorite for the title. Paris finalists Anna Chakvetadze and Agnes Szavay, Daniela Hantuchova, Patty Schnyder and Na Li will complete a great field.

Viña del Mar (CHI), Tier III, $200,000

New tournament held in Chile, which will feature all the clay specialists in the beggining of South American clay mini-season. Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko are the top seeds and the main contenders for the title

Week #06: Chakvetadze and Radwanska win in Paris and Pattaya

Anna Chakvetadze found the game that took her to Top 5 last year after a dissapointing beggining of season and won the title in Paris indoors Tier II. Nevertheless it wasn't an easy victory, as she had to come back from a set down against Amelie Mauresmoo and Marion Bartoli in quarters and semis. She also needed three sets to defeat Agnes Szavay in the final who also recovered her best tennis after a bad start of season.
In Pattaya, top favorite Agnieszka Radwanska took advance of a very weak field as she was only Top 50 player and got her 2nd WTA title. American veteran Jill Craybas was runner-up and the only one who presented some opposition to Radwanska.

Paris (FRA), Tier II, $600,000
Final: Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) def. Agnes Szavay (HUN) 6/3 3/6 6/2

Pattaya (THA), Tier IV, $170,000
Final: Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) def. Jill Craybas (USA) 6/2 1/6 7/6


Latent heat: Sabine Lisicki

This 18 year old German has been the greatest discovery in 2008 season so far. Another product of Nick Bolletieri's Academy, she already enjoyed a sensational year on 2007 int the ITF circuit and climbed from #497 to #198 in WTA rankings. But on 2008 she's ready to assault the WTA circuit, and the first attempt has been impressive.
On Australian Open she won 5 matches in a row going through the qualifying to the third round, including a big win over 16th seed Dinara Safina.

That victory was very important for Sabine, but just a few days later she scored an even more special victory. She defeated former #1 and leader of American team Lindsay Davenport 6/1 7/5 in Fed Cup, giving a 0-1 lead to her team. Unfortunately, that was the only point Germany won, but we are sure that is not going to be Sabine's last great victory on WTA Tour.


Player of the week: Anabel Medina

Anabel Medina played her best tennis last weekend to give the Spanish team a win over Italy in Fed Cup quarter-finals. Although the tie was played in Italy and indoor, the clay specialist showed her progress in fast surfaces as she defeated WTA #34 Flavia Pennetta 6/2 6/3 to set up a 0-2 lead for Spain. Nuria Llagostera had previously given the first point to Spain upsetting Francesca Schiavone. On the second day, Medina had the chance to solve the tie and she didn't miss it. She didn't feel any pressure as she defeated WTA #23 Francesca Schiavone 6/4 6/1 and put Spain in the semis, where they will face China. Anabel showed an impressive form and just dropped 5 games on each match.

Week #05: Russia, USA, China and Spain advance to Fed Cup semis

Spanish team scored the biggest upset in the quarter-final round of Fed Cup when defeating 2006 champion and 2007 runner-up Italy as a visitor. Out of top 100 due to severe injuries in the last two years, Nuria Llagostera upsetted Italian #1 Francesca Schiavone and Spanish leader Anabel Medina secured victory with convincing wins over Flavia Pennetta and Schiavone. Spain will face China, which had to fight to get a 3-2 victory over France despite the absence of French top players Bartoli, Golovin and Mauresmo. China got an early 2-0 lead after the first day, but veterans Dechy and Razzano fought back to 2-2 and went to the decisive doubles, where Zi Yan and Jie Zheng, probably world's best tennis pair, finally secured the win.
Maria Sharapova kept her impressive form after Australian Open win and got two points in the Russian victory over Israel. Finally newcomer Sabine Lisicki upsetted former #1 Lindsay Davenport to put Germany on the lead in USA, but Americans recovered and won the tie 4-1 with two important singles wins for Ashley Harkleroad.

On World Group II Japan, Ukraine, Argentina and Czech Republic will play for a spot on World Group I next year after defeating Croatia, Belgium, Austria and Slovakia respectively. Most exciting tie was played in Ukraine. Yanina Wickmayer gave Belgium a 1/2 lead after beating both Bondarenko sisters. 15yo Tamaryn Hendler was given the reponsability to get the 3rd point and was 6/4 4/0 up to Katerina Bondarenko, but she wasn't able to finish it off and Bondarenko came back to win the match. In the doubles, Australian Open champions Alona and Katerina Bondarenko secured the victory. Another exciting tie was the one between Czech Republic and Slovakia where Nicole Vaidisova was decissive winning her two singles matches and the doubles.

Finally, Serbia, Switzerland, Colombia and Uzbekistan won the zonal events and a place in play-offs for World Group II.

Fed Cup, 1/4-final World Group
Israel- RUSSIA 1/4
CHINA-France 3/2
Italy-SPAIN 2/3
USA-Germany 4/1

World Group II, 1st round
JAPAN-Croatia 4/1
UKRAINE-Belgium 3/2
ARGENTINA-Austria 4/1


WTA ranking as of 04-Feb-2008

No changes on Top places of WTA ranking as Fed Cup ties were played last week.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Justine Henin


2(3)Ana IvanovicSRB382718
3(2)Svetlana Kuznetsova


4(4)Jelena JankovicSRB369526
5(5)Maria SharapovaRUS306112
6(8)Venus WilliamsUSA272014
7(6)Anna ChakvetadzeRUS272022
8(9)Daniela HantuchovaSVK267725
9(10)Marion BartoliFRA213329
10(7)Serena WilliamsUSA202211

Week #06 preview: Paris, Pattaya

Paris (FRA), Tier II, $600,000
Anna Chakvetadze and Daniela Hantuchova will be the top favorites at the indoor tournament held in Paris. French players Marion Bartoli and Amelie Mauresmo will be motivated playing at home and will try to improve after a poor beggining of the season. They will be joined by countrymates Razzano, Loit, Cornet, Dechy and Pin. Former Top 5 players Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova and young talents Victoria Azarenka and Agnes Szavay should be also taken into account.

Pattaya (THA), Tier IV, $170,000
Weak field for this Tier IV with only two Top 50 players, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sania Mirza, who will be the main contenders for the title.