WTA Moscow Kremlin Cup 2012 Draw Preview and Analysis

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For the full draw, please click here: WTA Moscow 2012 Singles Draw

The final WTA Premier-level event of the year has begun in Moscow. Played on indoor hard courts, the tournament features eight of the world’s top twenty players, with the four highest seeds securing byes into the second round. This means that Sam Stosur, Marion Bartoli, Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic will not have to play a first round match.

Stosur arrives in Moscow straight from Osaka, where she reached the semi-finals. The Australian has had an inconsistent season, and her main achievements are reaching the semi-finals of Roland Garros and the quarter-finals of the US Open. Although capable of beating anyone on her best day, Stosur often loses to less heralded players, as seen in her defeat to world number 134 Kai-Chen Chang last week. As the top seed in Moscow, she is as capable of walking away with the title as she is losing to Klara Zakopalova or Lucie Safarova, both potential quarter-final opponents.

Ana Ivanovic heads the second quarter, and will play a qualifier in her second round match. Like Stosur, the Serb has the power and talent to be a world-beater, but lacks the consistency and mental strength to deliver the goods on a regular basis. She may run into Nadia Petrova in the last eight, which would be a very tough match. Petrova has been resurgent of late, winning the title in Tokyo, and will be keen to play well in front of her home crowd.

In the third section of the draw, Caroline Wozniacki will be hoping to end her season on a high with a second title of the year. Her quarter is perhaps the toughest, and features dangerous floater Ursula Radwanska, former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, rising American Varvara Lepchenko and home favourite Ekaterina Makarova. Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Wozniacki is in the form of diminutive Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova. Cibulkova has caused many problems for Wozniacki in the past, and is more than capable of beating the Dane if her high-risk power game is clicking. However, she has won only two matches since the US Open, and had to retire from her most recent match with injury.

The final section sees one of the tour’s busiest grinders bidding for her first title of the year. The Kremlin Cup will be Marion Bartoli’s twenty-fifth tournament of the season, and she is yet another player whose results range from the breathtaking to the head-scratching. There are several tricky players lurking in the Frenchwoman’s quarter, including Yaroslava Shvedova and three Russians: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Vesnina and Maria Kirilenko. Each of these women is capable of scoring an upset over the eccentric Frenchwoman in the last eight.

Adding further interest to the tournament, there is an intriguing subplot playing out in Moscow. The eight slots at the season-ending championships in Istanbul have been filled, but there are two alternate places awarded to the players ranked nine and ten at the beginning of next week. Currently, those positions are occupied by Stosur and Bartoli respectively, but a good result in Moscow would allow Bartoli to leapfrog Stosur and snatch the first alternate slot. Wozniacki currently languishes several hundred ranking points behind Bartoli; however, if she were to win the title and the Frenchwoman fall in her first match, Wozniacki could secure the second alternate prize. While this may not sound like a terribly exciting position to be in, it is entirely possible that the tenth-ranked player could play in Istanbul. Sara Errani may not recover in time from injury, and Serena Williams’ commitment to non-Grand Slam tournaments is always questionable. The maths is complicated and her chances are slim, but Wozniacki definitely has an added incentive to win the Kremlin Cup this week.

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