Bank of the West Classic
The U.S. Open Series kicks off for the women in Stanford, Calif., where No. 1 Serena Williams headlines a packed field that includes Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams. This is Serena's first tournament since her third-round loss to Alize Cornet at Wimbledon and retirement from a doubles match under bizarre and worrisome circumstances. After some much-needed rest, Williams has been back to training and was hitting again last week in Toronto in preparation for her return. She will play her first match against either Kimiko Date-Krumm or Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday.
The top-heavy draw sees Serena in the same half as Azarenka, Ivanovic, Venus, Andrea Petkovic and Sam Stosur. Radwanska and Angelique Kerber are the top seeds in the bottom half. Most notably, Venus and Azarenka could meet in the second round. In an attempt to get more matches under her belt, Venus took a wild card into Stanford, an event at which she's made the final seven of the eight times she's played it.
The quick conditions suit the big hitters and servers, and this is the first tournament since Wimbledon for most of the field. The first round features some enticing matchups. Ivanovic, working with new coach Dejan Petrovic, will try to avenge her Wimbledon loss to Sabine Lisicki. Defending champion Dominika Cibulkova faces Garbine Muguruza, and Petkovic opens against Ajla Tomljanovic.
Once again, the ATP 500 event features another strong men's field in Washington, D.C., with Tomas Berdych and Milos Roanic as the top two seeds. Also in the draw are Kei Nishikori, John Isner and Richard Gasquet. Isner, a finalist last year, is coming off a title in Atlanta. He's been drawn into the bottom half in Raonic's quarter.
Grigor Dimitrov withdrew Sunday due to illness, according to Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times.
Unseeded and looming: Bernard Tomic. The 21-year-old is back in the top 100 after an inspired run to the title in Bogota. I'm curious to see if he can carry that same level of intensity into his next tournament. He could've played Dimitrov in the third round in what would've been a must-see match.
The women's field took a hit when top seed Eugenie Bouchard withdrew late last week, citing a knee injury, leaving the tournament without a top 10 player. Top seed honors now fall to No. 17 Lucie Safarova. The two Americans to watch are Sloane Stephens, who is working with new coach Thomas Hogstedt on a trial basis, and Madison Keys, who has hopefully recovered from the leg injury that ended her grass-court season at Wimbledon.
Still want to see clay-court tennis? Kitzbuehel, Austria, is the place. Philipp Kohlschreiber and Marcel Granollers top the field. There are also three youngsters to watch, all of whom ended up in the same quarter. Alexander Zverev, 17, was granted a wild card after his run to the Hamburg semifinals two weeks ago; Dominic Thiem, 20, of Austria is the No. 8 seed; and last year's ATP Rising Star, Jiri Vesely, 21, is also playing.