By Paul Martinez
Sharapova looks to get back on track; Dementieva
INDIAN WELLS, Calif., March 7 Pacific Life
Open champion Maria Sharapova returns to defend her title in second round
action Friday. Seeded players in her half include Jelena Jancovic and Anna
Chakvetadze, as well as Martina Hingis, who is fresh off her win in
In the other half of the
draw, Svetlana Kuznetsova was a late add and seeded No.2. Her path eased
up considerably with the withdrawal Wednesday of Elena Dementieva, who may
be out for up to six weeks following the discovery of stress fractures in
her ribs while practicing in Moscow last week.
Dementieva, who was the subject
of a Sunday
York Times article at that Moscow Spartak club that drew questions at
the media day, said the pain came on suddenly and sharply. "It started Saturday
evening, in my last practice (before coming) here," said Dementieva. "It
was just too painful and we decided to do an MRI. I really wanted to play
here, I was in the final last year." Anastassia Rodionova, who dropped her
qualifying match to Tatiana Poutchek, took her spot.
Maria Sharapova hopes to defend
her 2006 title and get a new streak rolling, but to do so she has to put
away memories of her straight set loss to Serena Williams in the Australian
Open final. "It was just a bad day at the office," she said. "I let her break
me after being up in the game and from that point she gained a lot of momentum.
When you give someone that confidence, right at the beginning, they can just
steamroll and it is hard to find your way back."
With the Williams sisters
boycott continuing, as well as no Belgians entered, Sharapova should have
a fairly easy ride to at least a possible quarterfinal match with
The Pacific Life Open began
on Monday, March 5 with the start of the women's qualifying draw. The women's
main draw and men's qualifying draw began on Wednesday, March 7 and the men's
main draw starts on Friday, March 9. The tournament will run through Sunday,
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden
is perhaps the most fan-friendly of any of the world-class tennis venues.
Especially early in the tournament, fans are pleasantly surprised to find
many top players on the practice courts along the south side of the property
- players who are often not even scheduled to play that day.
The first major combined
tennis event of the season on U.S. soil, the Pacific Life Open will be held
March 5-18, 2007 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.
In 2006 more than 280,000 fans attended the tournament making it the most
attended non-Grand Slam tournament in the world. This year's event will again
feature over 250 of the top men's and women's players and will be broadcast
for more than 44 hours of live and tape-delayed coverage on ESPN2. Tickets
and info (800) 999-1585 or visit