Player of the week: Virginie Razzano

French player Virginie Razzano enjoyed a fantastic week as she reached the final of the Premier WTA event in Dubai. In a tournament featuring the Top-8 players in the World, no one expected that #58 Razzano could go that far.
Razzano started the tournament with a straight sets victory over Katerina Bondarenko and caused a major upset in the 2nd round defeating WTA #2 Dinara Safina by a clear 6/4 6/2. In the third round she overcame former Top-5 Daniela Hantuchova in three sets. In the quarters Razzano had to face a difficult challenge as she was facing one of the most regular players lately, WTA #5 Vera Zvonareva, and she defeated her in two close sets by 7/6 7/5. And in the semis Razzano swept up-and-coming Estonian Kaia Kanepi by 6/1 6/2. The final was another story, as she clearly defeated by Venus Williams, but the runner-up place was already a prize for Razzano. With this result Razzano clims 17 places to rank at #41.

WTA ranking as of 23-Feb-2009

Dubai champion Venus Williams climbs one spot #5, while sister Serena extends her lead as WTA #1. Ana Ivanovic gains one place to #7 and Memphis champion Victoria Azarenka moves from #14 to a career-high at #11, just 42 points away from Top-10. Also career-high ranking and Top-20 debut for Dubai semifinalist Kaia Kanepi, who moves from #24 to #20. Surprising Dubai finalist Virginie Razzano climbs 17 places up to #41 and quarter-finalist Elena Vesnina gains 18 spots up to #57. Bogota champion Maria Jose Martinez moves from #66 to a career-high #53 and semifinalist Patricia Mayr is Top-100 greatest gainer climbing 20 places up to a career-high #76.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Serena WilliamsUSA998216
2(2)Dinara SafinaRUS902120
3(3)Jelena JankovicSRB846022
4(4)Elena DementievaRUS826621
5(6)Venus WilliamsUSA681414
6(5)Vera ZvonarevaRUS632024
7(8)Ana IvanovicSRB556218
8(7)Svetlana Kuznetsova


9(9)Nadia PetrovaRUS388223
10(10)Agnieszka Radwanska



Week #8 preview: Acapulco

Acapulco (MEX), International, $220,000
Venus Williams will be the top seed and main favourite to take the title in this international tournament, especially after her awesome performance in Dubai last week. Other seeds include Flavia Pennetta, Carla Suarez, Bogota champion Maria Jose Martinez and runner-up Gisela Dulko, Tathiana Garbin and Czechs Iveta Benesova and Lucie Safarova.

Week #7: Venus Williams takes the title in Dubai

Dubai showed again that, when they are fit and focused, the Williams sisters are superior to the rest of the WTA players. The semifinal match between Venus and Serena Williams, which was decided in the third set tiebreak, was the actual final of the tournament, as Venus found little opposition on surprising finalist Virginie Razzano. Estonian Kaia Kanepi completed the semis. The lower half of the draw was plenty of surprises, with Kanepi upsetting Jelena Jankovic, Razzano upsetting Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva and quarter-finalist Elena Vesnina upsetting Svetlana Kuznetsova. In the upper half all the top seeds reached the quarters, but Ana Ivanovic and Elena Dementieva were defeated by the Williams.

In Memphis, the two top seeds and main favourites Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka fulfilled the expectatives reaching the final, clearly won by Azarenka, and getting the doubles title. Azarenka, who got her 2nd WTA title this season, had more troubles in the semis, where she defeated German Sabine Lisicki in the third set tie-break, with Anne Keothavong completing the semis. The tournament lacked of big surprises and Michaella Krajicek was the only unseeded player reaching the quarters. Krajicek went through the qualy to win her first WTA Main Draw match since June, after some time out due to injuries and personnal problems, and even managed to take a set from Wozniacki.

Finally, in Bogota Spanish Maria Jose Martinez got the first WTA title in her career after defeating Argentinian Gisela Dulko in the final. Martinez also got the doubles title with partner Nuria Llagostera. Romanian Edina Gallovits and Austrian Patricia Mayr completed the semis, while 1st seed Flavia Pennetta was upsetted in the first round by Masa Zec Peskiric.

Dubai (UAE), Premier, $2,000,000
Final: Venus Williams (USA) def Virginie Razzano (FRA) 6/4 6/2

Memphis (USA), International, $220,000
Final: Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 6/1 6/3

Bogota (COL), International, $220,000
Final: Maria Jose Martinez (ESP) def Gisela Dulko (ARG) 6/3 6/2


Player of the week: Amelie Mauresmo

After being in a slump for the last two years, Amelie Mauresmo found her best tennis back last week. And she did in front of her crowd at her home event in Paris. Mauresmo swept all her rivals on the way to the semifinals, dropping no more than 3 games on her victories over Sara Errani, Monica Niculescu and WTA #10 and 8th seed Agnieszka Radwanska. But in the semis she was meeting a much harder opponent, WTA #3 and former #1 Jelena Jankovic. Mauresmo took the first set by 6/2, but lost her focus in the second which Jankovic took by 0/6. Nevertheless, Mauresmo reacted and found her best tennis again to take the third by 6/1. The final against WTA #4 Elena Dementieva was a similar story. Mauresmo took a very close first set in the tiebreak, but Dementieva come back to take the second. In the third, Mauresmo hold her nerves and with the support of the crowd got the victory.
In this time when the WTA Tour lacks of a real leadership, it is good news that great players like Mauresmo can get back to their best level. Welcome back, Amelie.


Week #7 preview: Dubai, Memphis, Bogota

Dubai (UAE), Premier, $2,000,000
As every year, big prize money attracts the best players to this tournament, which will feature 9 of the Top 10 players. The battle for the title will be between Russians Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova, Americans Serena Williams and Venus Williams and Serbians Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, but surprises shouldn't be discarded. And Serena Williams will have to defend her #1 spot against Dinara Safina, who will look for a good result in order to close-up on Williams or even take the #1.

Memphis (USA), International, $220,000
Young sensations Caroline Wozniacki (WTA 12) and Victoria Azarenka (WTA 15) will be the biggest attractions and clear favourites to take the title in Memphis. They will be the top seeds and only Top 40 players here, although there are dangerous players around as Lucie Safarova, Anne Keothavong, Sabine Lisicki or Jelena Dokic, after her impressive comeback run in the Australian Open.

Bogota (COL), International, $220,000
The South American clay mini-season starts in Bogota, where Italian Flavia Pennetta (WTA #11) will be the top seed. On her way to the title, she will have to overcome Czech Kalara Zakopalova (5th seed), Argentinian Gisela Dulko (3rd seed), and the Spanish Armada composed of Carla Suarez (2nd seed), Nuria Llagostera (4th seed), Maria Jose Martinez (7th seed) and Lourdes Dominguez (8th seed). The crowd will cheer for local favourites Catalina CastaƱo and Mariana Duque.

Week #6: Mauresmo's renaissance in Paris

Amelie Mauresmo played her best tennis in the last two years to take the title in her home tournament in Paris. The French crowd was delighted with the game of her favourite, as Mauresmo defeated three Top Ten players on her way to the title, WTA #9 Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarters, WTA #3 Jelena Jankovic in the semis and WTA #4 Elena Dementieva in the final. Dementieva, who reached her 3rd final of 2009 in 4 tournaments, walked over to the final after Serena Williams withdrawal due to a knee injury. This was a perfect tournament for French supporters, as 50% of the quarterfinalists were French, with Alize Cornet, Natalie Dechy and Emilie Loit joining Mauresmo.
WTA #5 Vera Zvonareva played her role as 1st seed and got an easy title in Pattaya after defeating Indian Sania Mirza, who seems to be finally recovered after almost 1 year out due to injuries, in the final. Zvonareva won all her matches in straight sets, dropping no more than 7 games on each. Her way to the title was easier after the withdrawal of 3rd seed Dominika Cibulkova and the defeat of 2nd seed Caroline Wozniacki, who was upsetted in the quarter-finals by young Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova, who lost in the semis to Mirza. Israeli Shahar Peer completed the semis.

Paris (FRA), Premier, $700,000
Final: Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) def Elena Dementieva (RUS) 7/6 2/6 6/4

Pattaya (THA), International, $220,000
Final: Vera Zvonareva (RUS) def Sania Mirza (IND) 7/5 6/1


Hot shot: Hantuchova, Golovin and Kirilenko in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 2009

All photos linked from SI.com

WTA stars Daniela Hantuchova, Tatiana Golovin and Maria Kirilenko have been featured in the 2009 Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated. The players were photographed by Walter Iooss, Jr. in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic in sexy poses wearing different swimsuits and bikinis.
Other WTA players that have been featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue include Steffi Graf, Anna Kournikova, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams.
Watch the galleries via SI.com

Player of the week: Flavia Pennetta

Last week, Italia got a shocking victory in France by 0-5 in the quarter-finals of the Fed Cup with the leadership of Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta was scheduled to open the tie against former WTA #1 Amelie Mauresmo. Mauresmo took the first set by 6/2 and got an early lead in the second, but Pennetta fought back to force the tiebreak. The tiebreak was dramatic and full of tension. Pennetta went up 5-1 and had two set points when leading 6-4, but lost them on unforced errors. And overruled passing shot that followed gave Mauresmo a 7-6 lead and match point for France, prompting Pennetta to make a rude gesture towards chair umpire. Her moment of craziness was pursued by a poor double fault from an unfocused Mauresmo, sending the tiebreak Italy’s way. In the third set, Mauresmo took a 4-1 lead, but Pennetta hung in and gave her all to take it 6/4. After a very tight victory of Francesca Schiavone over Alize Cornet in the 2nd match, Pennetta had the chance and the responsability of giving the victory to Italy on the third match, facing the young French star and WTA #14 Cornet. And she didn't feel any pressure nor fear, as she played her best to sweep Cornet by 6/2 6/2. Then her temamates Errani and Vinci completed the 0-5 victory, but the hardest work was already done by Pennetta.

WTA ranking as of 9-Feb-2009

No big changes on WTA ranking as Fed Cup ties were held last week, but some movements as last year points from Paris and Pattaya drop-off. Nadia Petrova climbs to #9 as Agnieszka Radwanska falls to #10. Also one place up and career-high rankings for Flavia Pennetta (#11), Alize Cornet (#13), Jie Zheng (#19) and Anabel Medina (#20), who breaks into the Top 20 for the first time.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Serena WilliamsUSA943214
2(2)Dinara SafinaRUS915020
3(3)Jelena JankovicSRB858021
4(4)Elena DementievaRUS816619
5(5)Vera ZvonarevaRUS664023
6(6)Venus WilliamsUSA614414
7(7)Svetlana Kuznetsova


8(8)Ana IvanovicSRB549218
9(10)Nadia PetrovaRUS388224
10(9)Agnieszka Radwanska




Week #6 preview: Paris, Pattaya

Paris (FRA), Premier, $700,000
The Open Gaz de France, indoor tournament held in Paris, takes place this week and has been awarded the Premium category by the WTA. WTA #1 Serena Williams, #3 Jelena Jankovic and #4 Elena Dementieva will be the top seeds and clear favourites to the title. French hopes will be placed in youngster Alize Cornet, 5th seed, and veteran Amelie Mauresmo, 8th seed.

Pattaya (THA), International, $220,000
Another WTA International tournament will be held in Pattaya. Russian Vera Zvonareva, WTA #5 and one of the most regular players last season, will be the 1st seed and main favourite to the title, but she will have to be aware of rising youngsters Caroline Wozniacki (WTA #12) and Dominika Cibulkova (WTA #18).

Week #5: Russia, Italy, USA and Czech Republic through Fed Cup semis

Russia, Italy, USA and Czech Republic will play for two places in the Fed Cup final after the quarter-final ties held this weekend. As expected, title-holder Russia swept a weak China that missed Li and Zheng. Italy upsetted France in Paris by 0-5 after a thrilling first day with victories of Flavia Pennetta over Amelie Mauresmo 2/6 7/6 6/4 and Francesca Schiavone over Alize Cornet 6/1 2/6 8/6. With the absence of the Williams sisters, veterans Julie Ditty and Liezel Huber gave the victory to USA in the decissive doubles match against Argentina, which lacked of a 2nd top player to help Gisela Dulko, who won her two singles matches. Finally, Czech Republic took advance of their crowd support and a fast carpet surface to beat Spain, with Petra Kvitova winning her two singles matches.
In the World Group II, as it was expected Serbia and the Slovak Republic found little opposition on Japan and Belgium and won their ties in the 3rd match. Poor performance of Timea Bacsinszky was the key for the defeat of Switzerland against Germany, despite the two singles victories of Patty Schnyder. Israeli Shahar Peer also won her two matches but this was not enough to defeat Ukraine as the Bondarenko sisters won the decissive doubles match.
Finally, Estonia, Poland, Canada and Australia were the winners of the zonal events and got a place in World Group II play-offs

World Group, 1st Round
RUSSIA beat China 5-0
France lost to ITALY 0-5
USA beat Argentina 3-2
CZECH REPUBLIC beat Spain 4-1

World Group II, 1st Round
SLOVAK REPUBLIC beat Belgium 4-1
Switzerland lost to GERMANY 2-3
SERBIA beat Japan 4-1
UKRAINE beat Israel 3-2


Player of the week: Serena Williams / Jelena Dokic

Serena Williams was the strongest player in the Australian Open, and not only she got her 10th Grand Slam title, but also the #1 place in the WTA ranking. After defeating Yuan, Dulko and Peng, Williams faced her first serious test in the last-16 round against 13th seed Victoria Azarenka. Williams was lucky as Azarenka suffered food poisoning the night before and had to retire, even though she had won the first set. Williams also had a though match in the quarters, as she had to come back from a set down to overcome Svetlana Kuznetsova, who even served for the match. But at the decissive matches, Williams played her best, as only great champions do, to defeat Russians Elena Dementieva by 6/3 6/4 in the semifinal, and Dinara Safina by 6/3 6/0 in the final.

But another player hit the headlines in the Australian Open. Jelena Dokic, who was making another try to get back to the Tour, turned into the crowd's favourite and got huge attention from the media after some emotive victories. Dokic had previously competed with other Australian players to get a Wild Card for the Main Draw, and won her first Grand Slam match since 2003 after beating Tamira Paszek in three sets. But the best was still to come, as she managed to raise her level to upset 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze and 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki again in three sets. In the 4th round she faced upcoming Russian and 29th seed Alisa Kleybanova for a place in the quarterfinals. And this was really the match of the tournament, a battle that Dokic won in a thrilling 3rd set (8-6) in an night session with all the stadium cheering for her and a big TV audience. The quarter final seemed really too much for her, as she was facing WTA #3 Dinara Safina, but the match was closer than expected and Dokic managed to win the 2nd set and again the match was decided in the 3rd set, that Safina won. But it's really great news for tennis to see the former WTA #4 playing at her best level again.


Hot news: Comeback for Kim Clijsters?

Today, many Belgian newspapers published that former WTA #1 Kim Clijsters is back training with her former sparring Wim Fissette. Oficially, it is only known that Clijsters will play an exhibiton event in Belgium, but the rumour of a possible partial comeback (playing only a few tournaments, as Davenport does) of Clijsters to WTA Tour is spreading fast.
We'll keep you informed.

Sources (in french):

WTA ranking as of 2-Feb-2009

Serena Williams is the new WTA #1 after getting the Australian Open title, while runner-up Dinara Safina climbs to #2 and previous #1 Jelena Jankovic falls to #3. Semifinalist Elena Dementieva stays at #4 while the other semifinalist Vera Zvonareva climbs from #7 to #5. Quarter-finalist Marion Bartoli gains 6 places to #11, while Jie Zheng climbs from #24 to #20 to reach the Top 20 for the first time. Surprising youngsters Alisa Kleybanova and Carla Suarez break into the Top 30, reaching career-high rankings at #28 and #30, but the greatest climb this week is for the amazing comeback of Jelena Dokic, climbing from #187 to #91 after reaching the quarterfinals.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(2)Serena WilliamsUSA943214
2(3)Dinara SafinaRUS915020
3(1)Jelena JankovicSRB858021
4(4)Elena DementievaRUS821620
5(7)Vera ZvonarevaRUS664023
6(6)Venus WilliamsUSA614414
7(8)Svetlana Kuznetsova


8(5)Ana IvanovicSRB549218
9(10)Agnieszka Radwanska


10(11)Nadia PetrovaRUS388225


Week #5 preview: Fed Cup

Russia will start the defense of the Fed Cup title in Moscow, led by Top-10 Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova, and will be the strong favorite against China, led by Jie Zheng and Zi Yan. Close tie in Orleans between France, led by Alize Cornet and Amelie Mauresmo, and Italy, led by Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone. USA, with the absence of the Williams Sisters, will trust in Bethanie Mattek and Jill Craybas to overcome Argentina, led by Gisela Dulko. Finally, a strong Czech Republic team with Benesova, Kvitova and Safarova will play against the always dangerous Spanish team, led by Australian Open quarter-finalist Carla Suarez.

In the World Group II, 8 countries will look for a place in the Worls Group play-offs. Serbian dream team, with Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, shouldn't have many difficulties to overcome Japan. A strong Slovak team with Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova is also the strong favorite against Belgium. Ukraine, led by the Bondarenko sisters, will try to overcome Israel, led by Shahar Peer. Finally, Switerzland, led by Patty Schnyder and Timea Bacsinszky, will host the most uncertain tie against a very dangerous German team led by Sabine Lisicki.

World Group, 1st Round

Russia v China
France v Italy
USA v Argentina
Czech Republic v Spain

World Group II, 1st Round
Slovak Republic v Belgium
Switzerland v Germany
Serbia v Japan
Ukraine v Israel

Week #3-4: Serena Williams gets the Australian Open and WTA #1

Serena Williams captured her 4th Australian Open and 10th Grand Slam title and recovered the leadership in women's tennis. Williams trashed Russian Dinara Safina in a final where they were not only fighting for the title, but also for WTA #1. Williams ended with the hopes of a Russian title, as 3 out of 4 semifinalists were Russians, including Elena Dementieva and Vera Zvonareva. Australian Jelena Dokic had an amazing comeback run, reaching the quarterfinals and getting massive attention and TV audiences. Also remarkable runs by Spanish Carla Suarez, who upsetted Venus Williams and reached the quarter-finals for the 2nd time in her career, and Russian Alisa Kleybanova, who upsetted 5th seed Ana Ivanovic to reach the 4th round.
Serena Williams, along with her sister Venus, also captured the doubles title defeating Slovak Daniela Hantuchova and Japanese Ai Sugiyama in the final. Finally, the mixed doubles title was captured by Indians Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi

Australian Open (Melbourne), Grand Slam, A$20,600,000
Singles: Serena Williams (USA) def Dinara Safina (RUS) 6/0 6/3
Doubles: S.Williams/V.Williams def Hantuchova/Sugiyama 6/3 6/3
Mixed doubles: Mirza/Bupathi def Dechy/Ram 6/3 6/1