WTA Tokyo Preview

Many of the top names will return to action this week in Tokyo as the hunt for the eight spots at the season ending WTA championships really steps up. Serena Williams has pulled out of the tournament as she continues her comeback from injury; Venus Williams, Justine Henin and the US Open champion Kim Clijsters are also absent from the event. However despite these absences it is a strong field that will meet in Tokyo with Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva headlining the draw.

1st Quarter – C Wozniacki (1) v A Radwanska (6)
Caroline Wozniacki will open up her campaign against a qualifier; either Greta Arn or Laura Robson. Laura Robson impressively fough her way past much higher ranked opponents in Sevastova and Halep to make the main draw. Wozniacki’s first challenge is likely to come in the third round where she is projected to meet Pavlyuchenkova who has progressed well this year but has a losing record against Wozniacki. Pavlyuchenkova will have to overcome Dominika Cibulkova in R1 which could be a real stumbling block in their first meeting. Agnieszka Radwanska will play either Iveta Benesova or Olga Govortsova in R2 but is likely to face a much trickier 3rd round match. Svetlana Kuznetsova is in this section of this draw and shes faces a difficult opener against Agnes Szavay. Andrea Petkovic may be her 2nd round opponent who she has been involved in some epic encounter with; a 3 set loss in Tokyo last year and a 3 set win at Roland Garros where Kuznetsova saved several MP’s. Petkovic will be looking for revenge here if they do meet and i anticipate her to be a threat in this section of the draw.

2nd Quarter – S Stosur (4) v V Azarenka (8)
Samantha Stosur will return to action with a R2 clash with either Julia Goerges or Dinara Safina. I predict Safina will be waiting for her in what should be a competitive encounter. Whoever progresses from this will have an easier 3rd round match with the seeded Aravane Rezai looking mightily inconsistent of late. Coco VandeWeghe could provide a shock or two after impressively dispatching of Jarmilla Groth in the qualifiers. Victoria Azarenka will open up against Kai-Chen Chang or Lucie Safarova. Two exciting first round clashes in the section involve Marion Bartoli vs Yanina Wickmayer and Ana Ivanovic vs Alisa Kleybanova. Bartoli and Wickmayer have faced off once this year in Miami where Bartoli prevailed in 2 sets; it should be much closer this time round. Ivanovic and Kleybanova will once again play each other with each previous encounter throwing up a different situation. I’m predicting Ivanovic will be the winner this time despite Kleybanova’s impressive run in Seoul.

3rd Quarter – F Schiavone (5) v J Jankovic (3)
Francesca Schiavone will open up her Tokyo campaign against either Ekaterina Makarova or Alexandra Dulgheru. Schiavone could meet Sharapova in the 3rd round who will first have to beat the dangerous, Kimiko Date Krumm and then Daniela Hantuchova who has shown glimpses of form this year. Jelena Jankovic, who was disappointing during the US Open Series will take on either Petra Kvitova or Alona Bondarenko in the 2nd round. She could then meet Kaia Kanepi again in the 3rd round; however i think Shahar Peer will have too much for Kanepi this time round after previously losing to her at the Toronto Masters in August. Jankovic has a pretty good draw here and she could have to overcome Bondarenko and Peer; both players she has comfortably beaten before.

4th Quarter – E Dementieva (7) v V Zvonareva (2)
Elena Dementieva will play against either Yaroslava Shvedova or Kurumi Nara in the 2nd round. The likes of Flavia Pennetta, Na Li and Maria Kirilenko are in this section and are all consistent players so it’s difficult to anticipate who will come through to meet Dementieva; i’d go for Pennetta. The US Open runner-up, Vera Zvonareva will open up against either Sara Errani or Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. She is projected to meet Nadia Petrova in the 3rd round however she retired from her SF match in Seoul through illness which could spring a chance for Tsvetana Pironkova to show us some of her magic after her impressive run to the SF of Wimbledon. A rematch between Zvonareva and Pironkova could well be on the cards.

Wozniacki, Azarenka, Sharapova, Dementieva, Stosur and Zvonareva all look to have a good chance of winning this tournament; i’d side with either Sharapova or Azarenka to win WTA Tokyo. However as we near the end of the season and tiredness sets in we could see an unlikely winner emerge…

1st Round TipsPetkovic to beat Dulko, Vandeweghe to beat Zakopalova, Ivanovic to beat Kleybanova, Makarova to beat Dulgheru and Pironkova to beat Morita.

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