by Karen 

We are already into the third week of the Road to Roland Garros and already it is shaping up to be extremely competitive. The Spin will be featuring its list of Contenders, Pretenders and Spoilers as the weeks progress and we will be featuring the women of the WTA the way we believe they should be featured, i.e. as professional athletes.  

The storylines as we head into Roland Garros are intriguing and I for one cannot wait. 

The biggest story coming out of player camps this week is the withdrawal of Victoria Azarenka with a continuing foot injury.  Azarenka has withdrawn from both of the major clay tune ups, Madrid and Rome and one wonders whether she will even turn up at Roland Garros.  While Vika has reached the semifinals of both  the French Open and Wimbledon, neither tournament is her favourite surface.  It maybe that Azarenka has decided to avoid further damage to her foot by returning once the hard court season starts.  That in my view would be the best thing for her to do.  Azarenka has nothing to prove to anyone and her health should come first. 

Last week, Maria Sharapova continued her dominating ways in  Stuttgart.  After getting off to a slow start, the now 3 time champion outlasted Ana Ivanovic, herself becoming relevant in 2014.  The final was great to watch and I truly enjoyed every minute of it.  I am sure that fans of Ivanovic are extremely happy with her resurgence and I am sure that having her in the mix of title contenders is great for the women’s game. 

The first clay court event of the 2014 season happened in Charleston and saw 2 time defending champion, Serena Williams, being bounced by little know Jana Cepelova of the Slovak Republic.  Cepelova would go on to reach the final where she faced off with Andrea Petkovic, herself returning from another injury layoff.  

Bogota saw a first time titlist in Caroline Garcia, who beat defending champion, Jelena Jankovic in straight sets to to win her maiden title from as many starts. 

Over in Marrakech, we also saw a first time titlist in Spain’s Maria Teresa Toro-Flor who overcame Oprandi to take her maiden title. 

This week the Tour goes to Portugal for the Oeiras Open which sees a really good field headlined by Carla Suarez-Navarro, last year’s runner up and Stuttgart quarter-finalist, bookended by Eugenie Bouchard, semi-finalist in Charleston and Fed Cup hero against the Slovak Republic.  

Madrid will be the first time that we will see defending champion and current World No.1 Serena Williams, as well as No. 2 Li Na.  

Odds and Ends

I made a video featuring the women of the WTA:  When Worlds Collide.  Enjoy