Tennis as Usual: Don’t Forget About the WTA

With ATP Tour action really taking off this week at the Masters Series Madrid, the women are getting thoroughly overshadowed. It should not go unnoticed, however, that this week’s WTA event in Zurich, Switzerland boasts an outstanding field, especially considering the draw size is just 28.

World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic is the top seed and she is joined as a first-round bye recipient by Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams, and Vera Zvonareva. The top four seeds are surely not taking their free pass to the second round for granted, either, after what has transpired throughout the first few days of play. To say the Zurich Open has seen its fair share of surprises so far would be an understatement.

Little-known Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu stunned seventh-seeded Anna Chakvetadze 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday. In the second round she will take on Victoria Azarenka, a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Amelie Mauresmo. That Azarenka got the best of Mauresmo is not a shock, but the fashion in which she did it has to come as no small surprise.

Niculescu was not the only qualifier to move safely though round one. Petra Kvitova stunned No. 6 seed Patty Schnyder 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 much to the chagrin of the Switzerland faithful. Other first-round upsets included Maria Kirilenko over No. 8 seed and fellow Russian Daniela Hantuchova, and Francesca Schiavone over a previously in-form Caroline Wozniacki. Kirilenko and Schiavone will now do battle for a quarterfinal spot in Zurich.

Several of the top men’s players in Madrid will be looking to fend off the upset bug on Wednesday. Rafael Nadal already escaped a scare from Ernests Gulbis in a grueling three-set triumph, and now it’s time for Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, and David Nalbandian to get their Madrid campaigns started. Federer meets Radek Stepanek, Nikolay Davydenko faces Robby Ginepri, Roddick tussles with Tommy Robredo, and Nalbandian-who has a brutal draw the whole way through-battles Tomas Berdych, champion in Tokyo two weeks ago.