The PTT Pattaya Open is an annual WTA International event played on hard courts in Pattaya City, Thailand. With total prize money of $235,000 and 280 ranking points awarded to the champion, the tournament offers an excellent opportunity for lower ranked players to build momentum following the Australian Open.
The top seed at this year’s Pattaya Open is Ana Ivanovic. The Serb’s career trajectory is well-documented: she won the French Open in 2008 and reached the rankings summit, before an extended slump saw her tumble out of the top 50. Recently, Ivanovic seems to have steadied the ship, and although she is not a serious contender for the biggest titles, she is now a consistent performer in the 10-15 ranking range, and will be favourite for the title in Pattaya City.
Ivanovic has a very winnable opening match against Ayumi Morita of Japan, and will face either Chanelle Scheepers or Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second round. Date-Krumm was one of the media darlings of the Australian Open; the 42-year-old became the oldest ever player to reach the third round there. Seeded to meet Ivanovic in the quarter-finals is Daniela Hantuchova, who could now be described as a WTA Tour veteran. She is also the two-time defending champion in Pattaya, and despite her patchy form at the beginning of 2013, she won’t want to give up her title without a fight. Nevertheless, such is Hantuchova’s inconsistency that it wouldn’t be a shock to see her either lose her first match against Olga Puchkova, or fall to Shahar Peer in the second round.
The most notable name in the second quarter of the draw is Sabine Lisicki. The powerful German, tipped as the future of German tennis just a couple of seasons ago, is one of the most confounding players on tour. Few women have such a powerful serve or such devastating groundstrokes, but aside from another strong Wimbledon performance last summer, she has struggled to put together wins. Although the most talented player in her section, the fifth seed could fall to Irena-Camelia Begu in the second round, or Su-Wei Hsieh in the last eight. One has to assume Lisicki will make another ascent of the rankings at some point – she was ranked 12 in May of last year – but her 1-2 win-loss record in 2013 does not bode well.
Heather Watson’s presence in the draw will ensure the Pattaya Open receives a lot of attention from the British media. Following an impressive third round showing in Melbourne, Watson now finds herself in the top 40, and could even climb into the top 30 with a strong run in Thailand. As the eighth seed, she isn’t due to face a higher-ranked player until the quarter-finals, when she is expected to meet Sorana Cristea. Watson has beaten Cristea twice, however, so the door to the semi-finals is ajar for the young Brit.
The final section of the draw features several experienced players, including the Russians Elena Vesnina and Maria Kirilenko, both of whom reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. One of the doubles finalists in Melbourne, Casey Dellacqua, could be Kirilenko’s second round opponent, while Eleni Daniilidou and Mathilde Johansson block Vesnina’s path to the quarter-finals. Rather like Ivanovic, the second-seeded Kirilenko has become a dependable “second tier” performer. She was runner-up at the Pattaya Open in 2012, but is fully capable of hoisting the trophy this time around.
Semi-final predictions: Ivanovic def. Hsieh; Kirilenko def. Watson
Champion: Ana Ivanovic