Tuesday, January 03, 2006

WTA begins season with a flourish

The return of Martina Hingis to the WTA has added some real spice to the tour's 2006 start. Hingis won her first match at the Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts tournament in Gold Coast, defeating her training partner, Venezuela's Maria Vento-Kabchi, 6-2, 6-1. If she gets to the third round, she will most likely face Italy's talented (and hilarious) Francesca Schiavone, who could be her downfall. Hingis hasn't played on the tour in three years, and she is notorious for wilting in the intense Australian heat--twice she had to default Australian Open matches because of heat exhaustion.

If Hingis beats Klara Koukalova, Schiavone, and Tatiana Golovin (assuming Schiavone and Golovin make it to the third and fourth rounds respectively), she would most likely be in the final with her countrywoman, defending champion Patty Schnyder, and that would be an exciting match-up. First, though, Schnyder will probably have to get past Lucie Safarova.

In the meantime, Lisa Raymond is representing the U.S. in the Hopman Cup, and--sadly--former world number four Jelena Dokic lost her first round at the ASB Classic in Auckland. Dokic, whose ranking is now off the map, is playing for Australia for the first time in five years. The defending champion at Auckland is Katarina Srebotnik.

Mondial, ASB, Medibank International (Sydney), Moorilla Hobart International (Hobart), and Canberra International (Canberra) are all lead-ins to the Australian Open, which begins January 16 in Melbourne. The Australian Open defending champion is Serena Williams, whom I do not expect to defend her title, but with the Williams sisters, you never know.


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