The Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic will once again feature a rich collection of tennis talent, with many exciting new names joining the familiar faces who make the premier tennis event of South-East Asia an essential stop on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
The tournament, to be held at the Grand Hyatt Resort, Nusa Dua, Bali between 7th and 14th September, includes many of the pacesetters of 2008. As well as many players who have earned titles this year, there are several who have claimed stunning upsets at the highest level, including headline-grabbing victories at the Grand Slams held in Melbourne, Paris and London.
Meet the players coming to Bali in September:
Daniela Hantuchova quickly bounced back from an opening round defeat in her first visit to the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic in 2006 by reaching the final in 2007, eventually succumbing in three exciting sets to former champion Lindsay Davenport. She also teamed up with Davenport to reach the semi-finals of the doubles.
Her achievements in Bali last year served as a launch pad for one of the most successful periods of Daniela's career. She immediately moved on to Kolkata where she reached the semi-finals, and a week after that she reached the final in Luxembourg before losing in three tight sets to current world number one Ana Ivanovic. A month later she claimed the third title of her career by beating Patty Schnyder in Linz.
This year saw Daniela reach a new career milestone when she reached her first Grand Slam semi-final, at the Australian Open. Unfortunately, a stress fracture in her right heel ruined her clay court season and kept her out of the game for nearly three months, until she made a welcome return at Wimbledon.
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Francesca Schiavone has only played at the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic
once before. One of the game's greatest entertainers, the charismatic Italian made it all the way to the final during her Bali debut in 2005 before conceding the final to world number two Lindsay Davenport. She also teamed up with fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta in doubles, and they stretched the world number two pairing of Cara Black and Liezel Huber all the way in their quarter-final, eventually losing 10-7 in the third set match tiebreak.
Francesca's energy and determination has long made her a crowd favorite wherever she plays, and her skills helped take Italy to the Fed Cup
title in 2006 by beating a Belgian team that included Justine Henin. The following year, Italy reached the final again, this time losing to Russia in Moscow. Much to her regret, both those marches to the Fed Cup finals kept Schiavone from competing in Bali as the events were played in the same week. But now she is free to once again demonstrate her skills to her many fans in Bali.
The highlight for Schiavone this season was her stunning upset of world number one Justine Henin in Dubai, the first-ever defeat for the Belgian in her five years of playing the event. And she made headlines in doubles too, reaching the French Open final with Australian partner Casey Dellacqua.PATTY SCHNYDER
When Patty Schnyder works out her schedule for the year, the first tournament she puts in her diary is the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic.
And it is a measure of the appeal of the biggest Sony Ericsson WTA Tour
event in South-East Asia that she returned in 2006 after experiencing such a disappointing end to her challenge the previous year. It was then that she reached the semi-finals, only to retire with illness after reaching a third set against Francesca Schiavone.
Usually, such an episode would result in a player avoiding that tournament in the future because of its bad memories. But the good far outweighed the bad for the Swiss left-hander, and she couldn't wait to return to Bali. The following year she was back and she made the semi-finals again before losing to Marion Bartoli. Now she is returning for a fourth bid for the title, keen to make up for her surprise second round exit in 2007.
Since she was last in Bali, Patty has enjoyed consistent success, closing out the 2007 season by reaching the quarter-finals in Luxembourg and the final of Linz, and in 2008 going all the way to the final in Bangalore as well as reaching the semi-finals at Australia's Gold Coast and the quarter-finals of Antwerp, Charleston, Rome and - most impressively - the French Open.LI NA
China's Li Na certainly made an impact on her previous trip to Bali, reaching the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic
in 2005 before bowing out to eventual champion Lindsay Davenport. Since then she has got married, and is coached by her husband, Jiang Shan.
This season started particularly well for her, as in the first week of the year she claimed her second career singles title by beating three top-20 opponents on her way to winning the Gold Coast event in Australia. In February she reached the semi-finals in Antwerp, and then the week after in Doha she defeated two top-6 opponents, Anna Chakvetadze and Jelena Jankovic, to reach another semi-final.
Then disaster struck, as the following week she had to withdraw from Dubai with a right knee injury that eventually required surgery and kept her off of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour
for nearly five months before she was able to return at Eastbourne.PENG SHUAI
Peng Shuai has been listening to the talk in the locker room as her fellow players talked about the great time they've enjoyed at the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic,
and now she has booked her first trip to Bali to experience one of the most popular stops on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour
And she is likely to make quite an impact. She has been ranked as high as 31 in the world in singles, and after first representing China in the Fed Cup in 2001 she has been a regular member of the team since 2006. That same year she finished as runner-up to Nicole Vaidisova in Strasbourg, and last year she reached the semi-finals of both Pattaya and Beijing.
She has enjoyed even greater success in doubles, rising to the top 20 and claiming a rare victory over Wimbledon champions Serena and Venus Williams in Bangalore on her way to the title there with Tiantian Sun, and the pair followed up that triumph by overcoming Australian Open winners Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko in Miami.FLAVIA PENNETTA
Italy's Flavia Pennetta is making a welcome return to Bali after an absence of two years, when representing her country in the Fed Cup
final and then a leg injury kept her away in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Before that, Flavia had really begun to make her mark on the tournament following her opening round loss upon her Bali debut in 2003. The next year she reached the second round, and in 2005 she made it to the quarter-finals before losing the tightest of matches to fellow Italian Francesca Schiavone, going down 7-5 in the third set. Maybe this year she can go yet another step and reach the semis, or even better. Flavia also has a good doubles record in Bali, reaching the quarter-finals in 2003 and the semi-finals in 2005.
This season she has been in great form as she reached the semi-finals in Hobart in January, before claiming her fifth career title in Vina Del Mar in February and then her sixth title at Acapulco in March. She reached another semi-final, at Palermo, in July. But, best of all, she claimed a sensational straight-sets upset over Venus Williams in the third round of the French Open.TAMARINE TANASUGARN
Tamarine Tanasugarn is making her fifth visit to Bali, with her most successful runs so far coming in 2001 and 2003 when she reached the quarter-finals. Both times she fell to the eventual champion, in 2001 to Angelique Widjaja and in 2003 to Elena Dementieva. She has also excelled in doubles, winning the title in 2001 and reaching the semi-finals in 2003.
This year has also been successful for Tamarine. She reached the quarter-finals in Pattaya, qualified for Doha where she beat former world number one Amelie Mauresmo to reach the third round, and then she won a satellite event in Japan and reached the final of another.
But it was during the grass court season that Tammy really made headlines, qualifying at s'Hertogenbosch and going on to win her second career title with victory over world number nine Dinara Safina in the final. Then she became the first Thai to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals when she earned a sensational victory over world number three Jelena Jankovic. Beginning the grass court season ranked 85, by the time she fell to defending champion and then 2008 winner Venus Williams at Wimbledon she had climbed all the way up to 37, her best ranking since January 2004.ZHENG JIE
Zheng Jie is no stranger to the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic
, as this will be her third visit to Bali. Her first came in 2003 when she qualified and beat Flavia Pennetta to reach the second round, where she lost to Tamarine Tanasugarn. Then in 2005 Pennetta drew revenge, beating Jie in three close sets in their second round meeting. That year was still a success, however, as she went on to reach the doubles final with partner Yan Zi.
A year ago Jie was in despair after an ankle injury kept her out of tennis for the entire second half of the season. But she bounced back strongly in January, especially in doubles when she reached the Gold Coast final with Zi. Next week the pair won Sydney and then they reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open with a win over the Williams sisters. Another final, in Dubai, was followed by yet another at Indian Wells.
But her success was not limited to doubles, as at Wimbledon she attracted worldwide attention by beating top seed and world number one Ana Ivanovic before going on to become the first player from China ever to reach the semi-finals of any Grand Slam.ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA
Very few people knew the name of Alla Kudryavtseva before she showed up at Wimbledon this year, despite her reaching the Memphis quarter-finals as well as qualifying and reaching the second round of both Hobart and Indian Wells. But then the Moscow-born, Miami-based 20-year old stunned the tennis world by defeating one of the tournament favorites, Maria Sharapova, in straight sets in the second round. She went on to reach round four, before being stopped by an in-form Nadia Petrova.
Her goal, according to her biography in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour media guide,
is to be memorable. And she certainly achieved that, not only with her victory over the former Wimbledon and US Open champion and the current holder of the Australian Open title, but with her assertion that one of the motivating forces behind her win was that she didn't like Sharapova's outfit.
[Commonwealth Tennis Classic Website
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