Summer of Tennis to feature Beijing hopefuls
8 December 2006
Australia’s Olympic tennis hopefuls will be under the spotlight from expectant Aussie crowds as the men’s and women’s tours head down-under for a scorching summer of tennis.
Tennis Australia has confirmed that not only will there be high quality fields for the Australian Open, but also for the lead-up tournaments where fans around the country will get to see the world’s best players in action.
The form of Australia’s women tennis stars looks particularly promising leading into the round of Australian tournaments.
Samantha Stosur completed her best year to date in 2006 finishing as the number-one ranked doubles player in the world and with a singles ranking of 29 after a very strong year on the WTA.
The 2004 Athens Olympian will be looking to improve her ranking when she lines up at the first WTA tournament of 2007, the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts which begins on the Gold Coast on the last day of 2006.
Stosur will be looking to go one better than the runner-up trophy she achieved there in 2005 after her loss in the final to Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder.
As well as Stosur, Australia’s number two ranked female and fellow Athens Olympian Nicole Pratt is likely to line up on the Gold Coast against five of the world’s top twenty players.
Pratt will be aiming to consolidate the successful year she had in 2006 which saw her rocket into the third round of Wimbledon only to be met by the then world number one, Amelie Mauresmo.
Thirty-three-year-old Pratt also finished the year with a top-fifty doubles ranking which complimented her singles ranking of 77.
The widely anticipated return to top-ten form of Alicia Molik will be the buzz at the Australian tournaments as she attempts to rebuild her form after an injury plagued 2005 and a stop-start 2006.
Molik enjoyed trips to the second and third rounds of Wimbledon and the French Open respectively, but finished the season with a disappointing 9-16 singles win loss ratio.
The Athens bronze medallist will be looking to make a strong start to the 2007 season when she teams up with Mark Philippoussis in Perth to represent Australia in the Hopman Cup.
Twenty-five-year-old Molik and Philippoussis are seeded sixth in the eight team competition and have been grouped to play the Americans, Germans and Russians in the round robin knock-out tournament.
Qualification for Beijing 2008 is determined by world rankings as at 9 June 2008.