Hot news: Kim Clijsters to announce comeback plans on Thursday

Source: Yahoo! Sports

Former world number one Kim Clijsters will reveal her 2009 plans on Thursday and U.S. Open organisers said they would be happy to offer her a wildcard if she announces a return to the tour.

The 25-year-old Belgian will “unveil her plans for the 2009 season” at the tennis centre in her home town of Bree north of Brussels where she has been training in recent weeks, a statement issued on her behalf said.

Her former coach Carl Maes told Reuters last week that Clijsters, who retired in May 2007 before marrying basketball player Brian Lynch and giving birth to a daughter, could return to the WTA tour.

The former U.S. Open champion announced last week that she would compete in the World Team Tennis event in the United States later this year and in a special event at Wimbledon in May, alongside Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Tim Henman.

U.S. Open tournament director Jim Curley sent her a note asking if she was interested in any involvement at the Open, ranging from an exhibition up to taking a wildcard, spokesman Chris Widmaier said.

“Nothing official has happened yet as far as a wildcard for the U.S. Open,” Widmaier said.

“However, there are few better ambassadors for the sport of tennis than Kim Clijsters as a former champion and world number one. If she were to ask for a wildcard I’m sure she would get it.”

Clijsters, U.S. Open champion in 2005, won 34 singles titles overall and held the No. 1 ranking for a total of 19 weeks.

Hot news: Larry Scott resigns as WTA Tour CEO

Source: Sony Ericsson WTA Tour

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced on Tuesday, March 24, that Larry Scott will step down as its Chairman and CEO to become Commissioner of the NCAA's (National Collegiate Athletic Association) PAC-10 Conference, effective July 1, 2009. Scott will work with the Tour Board on the selection process for the next Chairman and CEO.

During his six year tenure as Chairman & CEO of the Tour, Scott is credited with having engineered a remarkable turnaround for the sport, with the Tour and women's professional tennis in a stronger position today than ever before. Milestone achievements under Scott include: (i) passage of the Tour's Roadmap plan, the most sweeping reforms to the Tour calendar in history to enhance the women's tennis product; (ii) achievement of equal prize money at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, with the top 10 events in women's professional tennis now featuring equal pay; (iii) signing of the largest sponsorship deal in the history of women's sport and professional tennis with Sony Ericsson at $88 million over 6 years, along with inking deals with a host of other major partners including Whirlpool and Dubai Duty Free; (iv) signing of the largest TV deal in the history of the Tour with Eurosport; (v) signing of the largest year-end Tour Championships deals in Tour history, with the event hosted by Doha, Qatar from 2008-2010 following a successful two year stint in Madrid, and by Istanbul, Turkey from 2011-2013 at a total value of $84 million; (vi) significant global expansion of the sport into new markets, including establishment of the Tour's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Beijing, with the Tour poised for major growth in the world's fastest growing market; (vii) launch of the Tour's largest ever global marketing campaign, "Looking for a Hero?"; (viii) leadership role in the introduction of more innovations to the sport than in its prior history, including electronic line calling, on-court coaching, pre-match players interviews, interviews with coaches during matches and a new doubles scoring format; (ix) unprecedented lifestyle and fashion coverage of the Tour's players; and (x) establishment of the Tour on its strongest financial footing in history, including a 500% increase in sponsorship revenues and two and a half times increase in overall revenues, a 40% increase in prize money and $710 million in new stadium investments.

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Player of the week: Vera Zvonareva

Russian Vera Zvonareva has been one of the most regular and consistent WTA players in the last year. And she took advance of her consistency to get the most important victory of her career in the WTA Premier event of Indian Wells.

Zvonareva enjoyed a perfect week, winning all her matches without dropping a set and dropping no more than 8 games on each. She started with easy victories over Yung-Jan Chan (6/2 6/2) and Petra Kvitova (6/3 6/1) before facing her first serious test in the 4th round, former Top-20 Na Li (6/4 6/4). In the quarter-finals and in the semis, Zvonareva had to face two young upcoming players, WTA #12 Caroline Wozniacki and WTA #11 Victoria Azarenka, and she used her experience to overcome them by 6/4 6/2 and 6/3 6/3 respectively. But the final was a major challenge, as she had to face former WTA #1 and title holder Ana Ivanovic. The strong wind complicated the game for both players, but in these conditions Zvonareva was able to keep the unforced errors under control while a more offensive Ivanovic got desperate in the 2nd set to lose by 7/6 6/2.

With this victory Zvonareva climbs up to #5 in the WTA ranking and presents herself as a serious contender for higher goals, such as Grand Slam titles or WTA #1.


WTA ranking as of 23-Mar-2009

Indian Wells champion Vera Zvonareva climbs one spot to #5. Semifinalist Victoria Azarenka also climbs one and breaks into the Top-10 for the first time reaching a career-high ranking at #10. Also career-high ranking for the other semifinalist, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who gains 15 places to peak at #27. Big climbs for teen Polish Urszula Radwanska (who breaks into Top-100 for the first time, moving from #107 to #83) and veteran American Jill Craybas (from #102 to #85), although the greatest gainer of Top 100 is Spanish Nuria Llagostera, who climbs 28 spots (from #121 to #93).

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Serena WilliamsUSA943216
2(2)Dinara SafinaRUS912119
3(3)Jelena JankovicSRB798520
4(4)Elena DementievaRUS767121
5(6)Vera ZvonarevaRUS709023
6(5)Venus WilliamsUSA684214
7(7)Ana IvanovicSRB518417
8(8)Svetlana Kuznetsova


9(9)Nadia PetrovaRUS376223
10(10)Victoria Azarenka



Week #12-13 preview: Miami

Miami (USA), Premier, $4,500,000
The second mandatory Premier and combined ATP/WTA event is held in Miami, the most important tournament apart from the Grand Slams (it is often called the "5th Grand Slam"). All the top players will be there, although Maria Sharapova, still not fully recovered from her shoulder injury, will play only in the doubles draw. After skipping Indian Wells, the Williams sisters, will be the favourites for the title, especially WTA #1 Serena Williams, who showed her superiority in the Australian Open and will defend last year's title. They will have to fight against Russians and Serbians, with Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva and Ana Ivanovic as the biggest threats. Also an eye should be kept on upcoming young talents such as Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. And again Dinara Safina and Serena Williams will compete for WTA #1, with Williams having to defend the points from her title last year.


Week #10-11: Zvonareva shines in Indian Wells

Russian Vera Zvonareva showed that she is one of the most regular players in WTA Tour lately and her consistency during all the tournament was the key to take the title in Indian Wells. Zvonareva, who didn't drop a set in the whole tournament, defeated a recovered Ana Ivanovic in a final spoiled by the windy conditions. 1st seed and WTA #2 Dinara Safina succumbed to the pressure of being able to reach WTA #1 and was defeated in the quarters by Victoria Azarenka. The other semifinalist was teen Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was the surprise of the tournament after upsetting 2nd seed Jelena Jankovic in the 2nd round. Other top seeds as Russians Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova also suffered early exits.

Indian Wells (USA), Premier, $4,500,000
Final: Vera Zvonareva (RUS) def Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 7/6 6/2


Hot gossip: Verdasco now dating Wozniacki?

After dating Serbian WTA star Ana Ivanovic in late 2008, the latest rumour states that Spanish ATP player Fernando Verdasco could be dating Danish WTA player Caroline Wozniacki.
Verdasco was spotted watching Caroline's match yesterday in Indian Wells, and Eurosport commentators referred to them as "an item".
Is Verdasco a WTA lady-killer? Besides Wozniacki and Ivanovic, Verdasco had previously dated WTA players Ashley Harkleroad and Gisela Dulko

EDIT: This rumour has been proved to be false, as Verdasco is reported to be dating with actress Camilla Belle, who was supporting him at Indian Wells


Player of the week: Marion Bartoli

French player Marion Bartoli captured in Monterrey her 4th WTA title, showing that she is becoming a very solid player in hard courts. In the 1st round, Bartoli defeated former Top-30 Michaella Krajicek, who is getting her game back after a slump, in straight sets. Same luck for youngster Magdalena Rybarikova in the 2nd round. In the quarters, Bartoli had to come back from a set down to overcome the surprise of the tournament, qualifier Vania King. And then she had to face a double Chinese challenge, as she faced Jie Zheng in the semis and Na Li in the final, defeating both of them in straight sets.
With this victory, Bartoli climbs to #12 in the WTA ranking, only 104 points away from Top 10, where she could return after the Premier events in Indian Wells and Miami.


WTA ranking as of 9-Mar-2009

No changes on WTA Top 10 this week as only a minor tournament in Monterrey was played. Monterrey champion Marion Bartoli gains one spot to #12, so do Dominika Cibulkova and Monterrey semifinalist Jie Zheng, reaching career-high rankings at #16 and #17 respectively. Monterrey semifinalist Iveta Benesova moves 3 places up to break into the Top 30 and reach a career-high ranking at #28, while runner-up Na Li climbs from #53 to #45. Nevertheless the greatest gainer in Top 100 is Vania King, who reached the quarter-finals in Monterrey as a qualifier and gains 16 places up to #92.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Serena WilliamsUSA943215
2(2)Dinara SafinaRUS902119
3(3)Jelena JankovicSRB840020
4(4)Elena DementievaRUS788620
5(5)Venus WilliamsUSA684213
6(6)Vera ZvonarevaRUS632023
7(7)Ana IvanovicSRB541417
8(8)Svetlana Kuznetsova


9(9)Nadia PetrovaRUS388222
10(10)Agnieszka Radwanska




Week #10-11 preview: Indian Wells

Indian Wells (USA), Premier, $4,500,000
One of the new features of the 2009 WTA Tour calendar is that the 4 biggest Premier events (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing) are mandatory for all the players. Therefore, every healthy player should play here. Nevertheless, the Williams sisters, who alleged racist treatment some years ago, will miss the tournament once again. And Russian Maria Sharapova, still not completely recovered from her shoulder injury, will play only in the doubles draw. The fight for the title will be a matter of Russians and Serbians, with Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva and Ana Ivanovic as the top favourites. The tournament could be also very special for Safina, as she could reach WTA #1 if she gets to the final rounds.

Week #9: Bartoli wins in Monterrey

French Marion Bartoli won the 4th WTA title in her career in Monterrey, after defeating Chinese Na Li in the final. Bartoli, who dropped only one set in the tournament, was a nightmare for Chinese players, as she had previously defeated 4th seed Jie Zheng in the semis. In the upper half of the draw, unseeded Na Li upsetted 1st seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the 1st round and progressed to the final after defeating Czechs Petra Cetkovska, Lucie Safarova and Iveta Benesova.

Monterrey (MEX), International, $220,000
Final: Marion Bartoli (FRA) def Na Li (CHN) 6/4 6/3


Hot Shot: Anna Kournikova, sexy in new K-Swiss campaign

New advertising campaign of sports fashion brand K-Swiss features former WTA player Anna Kournikova, who presents new K-Swiss collection in a series of sexy photos


Player of the week: Venus Williams

Venus Williams has enjoyed two perfect weeks, winning 10 consecutive matches and two titles. After her title last week in the Premier event of Dubai, it was uncertain how was she going to face a less important tournament in Acapulco, especially considering the long trip and time zone difference. But Williams showed how great competitor she is and, despite not playing at her best and losing a set on each match on her way to the semis, she stayed focused and fought to go past veteran clay specialists Nuria Llagostera and Greta Arn, and Top-30 Agnes Szavay. As usual, Williams showed her best performance in the decissive matches, as she swept Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in the semisand 2nd seed Flavia Pennetta (WTA #15) in the final, dropping no more than 3 games on each match.


WTA ranking as of 2-Mar-2009

No changes on WTA Top 10 this week as only a minor tournament in Acapulco was played. Caroline Wozniacki and Marion Bartoli climb one to #12 and #13 respectively as Alize Cornet drops to #14. Anabel Medina gains two spots up to #19. Biggest climbs this week are for Acapulco semifinalist Barbara Zahlavova-Strycova (from #71 to #62), ITF-$50,000 Clearwater champion Julie Coin (from #77 to #68), ITF-$50,000 Biberach champion Kirsten Flipkens (from #96 to #87) and Acapulco quarter-finalist Maret Ani (from #103 to #94), all of them gaining 9 places.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Serena WilliamsUSA998216
2(2)Dinara SafinaRUS902119
3(3)Jelena JankovicSRB840021
4(4)Elena DementievaRUS788620
5(5)Venus WilliamsUSA709214
6(6)Vera ZvonarevaRUS632024
7(7)Ana IvanovicSRB541417
8(8)Svetlana Kuznetsova


9(9)Nadia PetrovaRUS388222
10(10)Agnieszka Radwanska




Week #9 preview: Monterrey

Monterrey (MEX), International, $220,000
One of the new tournaments this season, Monterrey is the second stop of WTA Tour in Mexico, although this event is played on hard surface. There is no clear favourite for the title, but many candidates such as Polish Agnieszka Radwanska, French Marion Bartoli, Italian Flavia Pennetta, Chinese Jie Zheng and Na Li, Czech Iveta Benesova and Lucie Safarova, Russian Maria Kirilenko, Israeli Shahar Peer or Hungarian Agnes Szavay.

Week #8: Second title in a row for Venus

Venus Williams captured in Acapulco her 2nd consecutive title after winning last week in Dubai, extending her streak to 10 victories in a row. Probably due to the long trip and time zone change, Williams dropped a set on her 1st round, 2nd round and quarter-final matches but, as great players do, she played her best in the decissive matches, dropping only 3 games to Zahlavova-Strycova in the semis and to Italian Flavia Pennetta in the final. Czech Iveta Benesova completed the semis.

Acapulco (MEX), International, $220,000
Final: Venus Williams (USA) def Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 6/1 6/2