When the WTA Tour unveiled its new logo and brand identity during the draw ceremony for the 2010 WTA Championships in Doha, it struck me as more than synchronicity. Although this re-brand was obviously in the works for some time as Sony Ericsson is ending its role as title sponsor for the tour, the move is also forward thinking as the tour prepares itself for the next decade when the Williams sisters no longer solely define women’s tennis. After all, the previous WTA logo featured a player in silhouette. That player? Venus Williams.
With both Williams sisters, who reached the finals last year, out of action this year, the top eight players in Doha are competing not only to secure “best of” status for the end of the year but also a chance to prove to the world that the tour can survive the absence of the Williams sisters. But rather than get into that whole debate, along with who wore it best at the draw ceremony, instead let’s take a quick look at the draw and how this week could play out.
Does the grouping of these names look familiar? It should if you recognize it as being the same players Schiavone defeated on her way to winning the French Open title and becoming the surprise player of the season. Schiavone shows up in Doha as the wildcard of the whole event as she certainly has the game and moxie to disrupt anyone. With Dementieva coming in tired and dealing with a foot injury, don’t be surprised if the early match between Stosur and Wozniacki becomes the decider for this group. Of all the players in Doha, Stosur is the one who needs some solid wins to prove she is a consistent contender for big titles. But with Wozniacki playing Doha with the pressure to prove she deserves the No. 1 ranking, expect the Dane to end up with the most wins.
Even with Jankovic complaining of exhaustion, don’t expect the Serb to go down without a fight. This group, with the suddenly back in form Azarenka and continuing steady play of Zvonareva, should provide the week’s best matches. But for me, this group is Clijsters’s to win or lose. Already proving she is the best hardcourt player of her generation with another U.S. Open title, Clijsters should figure out a way to get past the other players in her group. But keep an eye on Zvonareva whose “zen” game could just be enough to edge her out in close matches.
Personally, I’m hoping for a Clijsters/Wozniacki final. Both players in their own ways have earned the biggest results on tour this year and a final win would allow one of them to say that 2010 was their season. Clijsters’s stellar 41-7 win/loss record versus the rest of the field proves she may be the one to beat, but Wozniacki who relishes her new “the one” status could be ready to prove that her stay at the top isn’t a fluke but only the beginning of her long reign as the “queen” of tennis.