Superwomen get ready to rumble
The build-up is almost over and the order of play for day one of the 2008 Sony Ericsson Championships has been released.
Three contests have been scheduled for the opening days play at Doha’s Khalifa International Tennis Complex and the pick of the bunch is undoubtedly Tuesdays second match on court Ana Ivanovic against Jelena Jankovic.
Essential A-Z to the Sony Ericsson Championships
Tennishead blog: Touchdown in Doha
Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva will open proceedings at the $4.5 million event at 5pm local time in Qatar with their all-Russian White Group clash.
World No.7 Kuznetsova will be the favourite to get her round robin campaign off to a winning start given she has won seven of their 10 previous meetings, although the pair havent faced one another since 2006.
Kuznetsova told reporters on Tuesday that a recent change in training base and coach has left her feeling much more positive about her game.
The 23-year-old former US Open champion has switched from Spain to Russia to link up with Russian compatriot Olga Morozova.
“It’s been a big move for me to move from Spain to Russia, but I feel very positive about it,” Kuznetsova said.
“I missed my home country very much. It just gives me some incredible support from inside, the feeling of being with all my family and my friends.
If history is anything to go by, Ivanovic will be fancied to beat top seed and world No.1 Jankovic in their White Group meeting, although a lot depends on which Ana Ivanovic turns up in Doha.
The French Open champion leads their head-to-head stats 6-1, including two victories over her fellow Serb this year (Indian Wells and Roland Garros) but it has been Jankovic that has played the better tennis of late having won three successive titles this autumn, form that enabled her to secure the year-end No.1 ranking.
She said on arriving in the Middle East that she has every intention of adding the Sony Ericsson Championships to the four titles she has already won in 2008.
“I’m so excited about finishing the year as the No.1 player in the world and hopefully I can play well here and have a good tournament and finish the year even better,” Jankovic said.
What promises to be a sensational days tennis in Doha comes to an end with Wimbledon champion Venus Williams against world No.2 Dinara Safina in the first Maroon Group match of the tournament.
Venus should be confident going into the contest having scored a recent victory over the young Russian indoors in Stuttgart in early October.
On that occasion the American ran out a 6-4, 6-2 winner and much will depend on how much energy Safina has left at the end of a draining breakthrough year.
After a sensational summer, Safina has faltered in her last two events, losing to Williams in Germany and to Zvonareva in the semis in Moscow. Tuesdays outing against the ruthless Venus will reveal whether theres anything left in the tank.
Tuesday order of play (5pm start local time)
1. Kuznetsova vs. Zvonareva
2. Jankovic vs. Ivanovic
3. Safina vs. V.Williams
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