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Seoul and Guangzhou: Previewing the Week in the WTA

Sep 15th 2013

The WTA’s Asian swing starts in earnest this week as events in Seoul and Guangzhou lay the foundation for the marquee tournaments in Tokyo and Beijing.

Agnieszka Radwanska


Top half:  The only top-15 player to appear in Seoul, Agnieszka Radwanska seeks her first title since winning consecutive tournaments in January.  Near the world No. 4 lies Mandy Minella, who reached a semifinal at the International event in Tashkent last week.  A more intriguing challenge might come from Annika Beck, among the more recent of the many WTA talents to emerge from Germany.  This quarter lacks other names of note, but the semifinal could pit Radwanska against junior phenom Elina Svitolina.  Winning her first title in Baku this summer, Svitolina upset top-20 opponent Dominika Cibulkova at the US Open.  Radwanska stands several notches higher in quality despite her poor summer form, and Svitolina might struggle even to reach that stage.  Two patient counterpunchers, Klara Zakopalova and Alexandra Dulgheru, will look to test her consistency. 

Bottom half:  The stronger of the two halves on paper features one Russian seed and one German seed in each of its quarters.  At the base of the draw lies second seed Maria Kirilenko, who has plunged from world No. 10 to world No. 20 after a tepid summer.  The ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm aims to thrill Asian fans one more time, while two veteran clay specialists look to eke out a few wins from the fall.  Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone could disrupt the rhythm of seventh seed Andrea Petkovic in a first-round match between two of the WTA’s more flamboyant personalities.  In the other quarter, Anabel Medina Garrigues probably will offer less resistance to third seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, although opening rounds have proved particularly thorny for this Russian in 2013.  Petkovic’s compatriot, Julia Goerges, eyes a straightforward route to at least the quarterfinals.  Even if she falls to Pavlyuchenkova there, that result would mark a step forward for a woman who has regressed over the last two years from her 2011 promise.


Top half:  Plenty of young talent looks to shine in this section.  A champion in Tashkent last week, Bojana Jovanovski will seek her eighth straight victory against top seed Sorana Cirstea.  After a strong summer in the US Open Series, which included a Premier Five final at the Rogers Cup, Cirstea fell in the first week of the US Open.  This pupil of Darren Cahill might face Puerto Rican star Monica Puig in the quarterfinals.  A second-week run at Wimbledon introduced Puig to an international audience, but she has left scant impact on hard courts since then.  Perhaps more promising in the long term than either Cirstea or Puig is third seed Laura Robson, who has defeated several elite players despite struggling with serving woes and injuries.  Home fans will hope to see Zheng Jie survive a first-round clash of styles against fellow doubles specialist Yaroslava Shvedova en route to a battle with Robson.

Bottom half:  Even more intriguing to a Chinese audience in Guangzhou is the potential quarterfinal in this half between Peng Shuai and Chinese Taipei doubles partner Hsieh Su-Wei.  The pair won the Wimbledon doubles title together this summer, which compensated for their quiet seasons in singles.  They occupy a soft quarter of two wildcards and two qualifiers.  At the base of the draw lies Alize Cornet, successful recently at these International events that bolster her ranking.  The younger and lesser of Poland’s renowned sisters, Urszula Radwanska, has recorded three victories over former No. 1s this year while still searching for consistency on a weekly basis.  Guangzhou should offer her a chance to improve that area.