Maria Sharapova is one of sixteen top-20 players that is ready to play the Toray Pan Pacific next week. Her 1st round opponent? Kimiko Date Krumm.
Just wanted to check in and let you all know that the stakes are about to get considerably higher for the women of the WTA next week in Japan. This Premier 5 event offers 350k to its winner, and a hefty 900 rankings points to boot.
On Twitter, I was asked to pick a winner, and I deliberated for quite some time before finally going with the No. 10 seed Kuznetsova. But don't bet your house, car, or boat on this one.
Without Venus or Serena (or Kim Clijsters, for that matter) in the draw, the tournament could come down to who is is the most prepared. You can also expect those players that are within striking distance of the top-8 to pick up their play a bit here. Na Li, Elena Dementieva, and Victoria Azarenka are all nipping at the heels of the final few spots for Doha, and there's only a month to go.
Jelena Jankovic and Francesca Schiavone are the No. 7 and No. 8 players respectively in the race, and each will more than likely play with a sense of purpose because of it.
Additionally, we could have a race for No. 1 as Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed at Toray, has only 6 (you heard me right) WTA rankings points to defend at Toray and Beijing, combined. Serena has 140 points in Beijing and 1500 in Doha, in case you were wondering. She currently leads Woz by just over 1000 points in the overall rankings.