The Tokyo PPO draw has been released and I won't be wasting anymore time trying to figure out entry lists. Despite earlier speculation otherwise, Sveta and Na Li are still in.
The first tournament after a Grand Slam always take getting used to because of the quality of first, second, and third round matches. I had to do a double take.
Lots of storylines in this tournament and they all lead to one conclusion: This is going to be a blood bath. JJ has a chance to regain the #1 ranking if she wins the tournament. Dinara is coming off two disappointing showings and will look to regain her form going into the YEC. Ana of course, wants to reestablish herself as a player to be reckoned with. And Sveta is having a crap season. Perhaps Fed Cup will have relit the fire and she'll make a solid run here.
JJ and Lena are the top seeds in this half, with byes into the second round. The best first round match here: Sveta vs. Na Li. Sveta is coming to Tokyo straight from Spain where she won her two rubbers to help Russia win their second straight Fed Cup. She looked solid at times and shaky at times, almost giving away her second tie to Garrigues. Na Li is rumored to be suffering a knee injury so this match is a bit of a coin flip.
JJ has a potentially tricky draw, with Pennetta, Szavay, and Kuzzie in her quarter. Lena has a slightly easier go with Cornet, Ski Boots, and Schiavone in her quarter.
Boy, things aren't going to be easy for Baby Elephant, though if there's any seed that "deserves" the toughest draw, it's her seeing as how she's rested. She and Dinara have byes into the second round but Ana has by far the toughest road to the final, as she is scheduled to face Petrova, A-Rad, and Safina to get through. Ana has winning records against all of them (4-2, 2-0, 3-1, respectively) but still, that's a tough test for someone coming off of injury and who has played less than five matches since Wimbledon. I almost wish she didn't have a bye so that she could get a less risky match under her belt. But like I've said, the most important thing for her will be to play well and begin to find her top form. A run to the semis would go a long way in building her confidence.
Baby Beluga could have a tricky second round match, facing the winner of Cibulkova/Momo. In the third round she'll face either Chakky/Ai/Razzano, and then a potential semifinal match with Ana, the only top five player she hasn't beaten this year.
My pick for the winner? Based on the draw and their current form, I have to put my money on JJ.