WTA Generali Linz Draw Preview and Analysis

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For the full singles draw, please click here: WTA Generali Ladies Linz Draw

As the WTA tour approaches the end of its 2012 season, the focus moves to the indoor courts of Europe. The last few weeks of the year offer an opportunity for lower-ranked players to earn valuable points, thereby boosting their seeding in next year’s tournaments. And while the majority of elite players are resting prior to the WTA championships in Istanbul, some are choosing to play an indoor event, enticed by either a desire to hit peak form or a generous appearance fee.

One might suspect that the latter is the reason behind Victoria Azarenka’s entering the Generali Ladies event in Linz this week. The world number one has just won the huge Premier Mandatory tournament in Beijing, blitzing all of her opponents – including Maria Sharapova in the final – so she is hardly in need of match practice. Furthermore, the Belarusian has complained about the heavy schedule at various points throughout the year, choosing to avoid pre-Wimbledon grass court events, for example. Nevertheless, her commitment to a smaller tournament is to be applauded, assuming she doesn’t pull out citing injury or fatigue.

Azarenka is by far the biggest name in the draw; the next highest-ranked player is world number 12 Ana Ivanovic. To get to the final, however, the top seed will have to negotiate her way past a series of tricky opponents. Arantxa Rus should present her with few problems in the opening round, but she could face any of Petra Martic, Sorana Cristea or Sabine Lisicki in the quarter-finals, each of them powerful and talented young players who have yet to show the discipline required to cement their place in the upper echelons of the game. Pocket powerhouse Dominika Cibulkova is seeded to meet Azarenka in the semi-finals, and is one of only four players to beat the Belarusian this year, upsetting her in the fourth round of the French Open. To get that far, the Slovakian will most likely have to defeat home favourite and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Tamira Paszek.

Although Ivanovic has shown signs of returning to form this season following a difficult few years on tour, she still tends to suffer disappointing early-round losses, as seen in Beijing last week. She is fully capable of living up to her seeding and reaching the final in Linz, but, alas, is also vulnerable to defeat at the hands of Andrea Petkovic or Yanina Wickmayer, who are in her section the draw. Other big names in the bottom half are Lucie Safarova and Julia Georges, also formidable players whose results tend to be inconsistent.

The draw for the Generali Ladies event features eight of the world’s top thirty players, a strong showing for an International-level tournament. Azarenka’s fans will be concerned that she is overplaying right before the prestigious Istanbul championships, and many would not be surprised if she suffers a timely recurrence of the “dizziness” that forced her out of Tokyo two weeks ago. However, if the China Open champion does indeed play in Linz, her admirers will be willing her to the title, for which she is the heavy favourite.

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