Ser­ena heads tough field

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SYD­NEY: World num­ber one Ser­ena Wil­liams head­lines a crack women’s field fea­tur­ing nine of the world’s top 10 at the Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional, which starts here to­mor­row.

With the ad­di­tion of Bel­gian wild­card Justine Henin, there will be four one-time world num­ber ones in the women’s draw in the last ma­jor lead-up tour na­ment to this month’s Aus­tralian Open.

The men’s draw will play sec­ond fid­dle to the strong women’s com­pe­ti­tion with French show­man and world No 13 Gael Mon­fils the top seed ahead of Czech To­mas Berdych, Swiss Stanis­las Wawrinka and Aus­tralia’s Lleyton He­witt.

Wil­liams was named the 2009 In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion women’s world cham­pion af­ter a year in which she cap­tured two grand slam ti­tles and went on to win the sea­so­nend­ing WTA Cham­pi­onships in Doha, seal­ing the No 1 rank­ing in the last event of the year. But she also courted con­tro­versy when she was hit with a record fine and two years of pro­ba­tion for an out­burst over a foot fault call in last Septem­ber’s US Open semi-fi­nal in New York.

Wil­liams, who will be seek­ing her 12th ma­jor ti­tle at the Jan­uary 18-31 Aus­tralian Open in Mel­bourne, was beaten by even­tual win­ner Elena De­men­tieva in the semi-fi­nals of last year’s Syd­ney event.

This time the Amer­i­can will be up against Rus­sian world num­ber two, Di­nara Sa­fina, Svet­lana Kuznetsova (3), Caro­line Woz­ni­acki (4), De­men­tieva (5), Vic­to­ria Azarenka (7), Je­lena Jankovic (8), Vera Zvonareva (9) and Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska (10).

Sa­fina, Jankovic and Henin are all for­mer world num­ber ones, while Wil­liams, Kuznetsova and Henin are grand slam cham­pi­ons.

This year’s tour­na­ment will be given added spice by the re­tur n of seven-time grand slam cham­pion Henin.

“The women’s draw is very im­pres­sive and it will be great to get some tough, com­pet­i­tive matches at the Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional be­fore head­ing to Mel­bourne,” said Henin.

French­man Mon­fils played in the Bris­bane In­ter­na­tional with his right shoul­der heav­ily strapped, while two-time grand slam cham­pion He­witt suf­fered back spasms while play­ing in this week’s Hop­man Cup in Perth.

He­witt, a four-time cham­pion of the Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional, has been trou­bled by in­jury over the past two years and his rank­ing has slipped to 22.

Also in the men’s draw will be 2006 Aus­tralian Open fi­nal­ist Mar­cos Bagh­datis, Feli­ciano Lopez, a mem­ber of the cham­pion Span­ish Davis Cup team, and French­man Richard Gas­quet. The Syd­ney In­ter na­tional, for­merly the NSW Open, is one of the old­est ten­nis events in the world and cel­e­brates its 125th an­niver­sary this year. – Sapa-AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.