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Bank Of The West

Bank Of The West

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During Friday's draw announcement for the Bank of the West Classic, the name everyone kept waiting to hear was Maria Sharapova.The former No.

1 women's tennis player in the world is currently ranked No.

61 while making a comeback from shoulder surgery, and she failed to crack one of the top eight seeds — meaning the Russian could have opened play against either Williams sister or any of the other seeded players who rank among the world's top 15.In the end, Sharapova was matched up against Ai Sugiyama of Japan and will play Monday at 7 p.m.

at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium on the Stanford campus."In the nine years I've been coming, I don't think we've had a lineup like this," WTA Tour Supervisor Pam Whytcross said.

"Everybody is very excited to be seeing the action this week."Another premature showdown was avoided when the Williams sisters earned the top two seeds, meaning they were placed on oppposite sides of the bracket and can't face one another until next Sunday's championship match."So breathe a sigh of relief on that," Whytcross said.Top-seeded Serena Williams, the 2009 Australian Open and Wimbledon singles champion, drew Na Li of China, the highest-ranked non-seeded player, in a first-round match that will take place Tuesday evening at 7.

Two-time Bank of the West champion Venus Williams, the runner-up at Wimbledon, plays the fourth match on Stadium Court during Tuesday's day session, her opponent Canadian Advertisementwild card Stephanie Dubois.The Williams duo also will participate in the doubles draw, having compiled a 14-1 record as a tandem this year while claiming the Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns."We have the best players in the world right here," said Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, the defending champion.Wozniak won last year's event as a qualifier, playing eight times over nine days."I remember having a great time here, and I know that I won one more match compared to a Grand Slam," said Wozniak, noting it takes seven wins over two weeks to win a Grand Slam.

"So I know that I can do it.

It was pretty tough, but I did it."This year will be tougher.Wozniak's quarter of the draw has a Russian feel, with third seed Elena Dementieva, the No.

4-ranked player in the world, and 2007 Bank of the West champion Anna Chakvetadze joining Daniela Hantuchova, who faces the defending champion in the first round.Intriguing first-round matchups include two French Open semifinalists in a duel — Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, the No.

6 seed, and Samantha Stosur of Australia — while last year's Bank of the West runner-up Marion Bartoli of France, the No.

8 seed, drew Shuai Peng of China."Once again we've got a fantastic international lineup," Whytcross said."It does feel like a mini-Grand Slam," Wozniak said.Fourth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, another former world No.

1, will play Tuesday's third match on Stadium Court against a qualifier.Another participant who drew a qualifier is Stanford junior Hilary Barte, a wild-card entry into the main draw.

Stanford incoming freshman Stacey Tan will compete in the qualifying tournament.
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