Watch List: WTA Championships spot at stake

Sunday October 16th, 2011

Agnieszka Radwanska is close to clinching a spot at the WTA Championships. (Cal Sports Media)

The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis.

Win and in: The eighth and final spot for the WTA Championships in Istanbul is still up for grabs between Agnieszka Radwanska and Marion Bartoli. Radwanska is in the driver's seat, needing only one win at the Kremlin Cup this week to clinch the berth. That victory is no guarantee, however, as she could open against the always unpredictable but hard-hitting Lucie Safarova (see the draw here).

Should Radwanska lose, Bartoli could nab the slot by winning the Moscow title. That would be quite a feat given her recent run in Osaka (where she won both the semifinals and finals on the same day) and the fact that she's been drawn into the same half as Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika Cibulkova.

Welcome back: The 10th-ranked Gael Monfils, who missed tournaments in Beijing and Shanghai with a knee injury, returns as the top seed in Stockholm. He's the only top-10 man playing this week. The second seed at the Stockholm Open is Juan Martin del Potro, who is playing his first Tour-level event since helping Argentina beat Serbia in the Davis Cup semifinals last month. Del Potro has made it clear that his focus for the remainder of the season is the Davis Cup final against Spain in late November early December. After skipping the Asian swing to rest up, he'll use the upcoming events (Stockholm, Basel, Bercy) as his final preparation for the international team competition.

 Healthy is as healthy does: The last time we saw Victoria Azarenka, she was forced to withdraw from the China Open with a right foot injury. She is back this week as the top seed in Luxembourg so she's presumably healthy, though she didn't sign up for doubles with Maria Kirilenko despite the two still having an outside shot at qualifying for Istanbul. If Azarenka is healthy, then this event will be a good tune-up for next week's WTA Championships. If she's not, the decision to play Luxembourg may be a rash one. She's already retired from four matches this year, and hobbling into Istanbul would be bad news.

Winning begets winning: Janko Tipsarevic finally broke through to win his first career title two weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur. Now the Serb is the top seed in Moscow, with countryman Viktor Troicki at No. 2. Moscow doesn't boast a particularly strong field and Tipsarevic has been complaining on Twitter (Twit-plaining?) about not feeling well. Can he get on a roll and bag his second title? • Youth guns: Alexandr Dolgopolov, Bernard Tomic, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov are all in action this week. I like Dolgopolov's chances in Moscow if he's focused and motivated. The other three are in Stockholm. Dimitrov actually gets a favorable draw that could lead to a quarterfinal run. As for enticing matchups, how about Raonic vs. Marcos Baghdatis in the first round and a potential Tomic vs. Monfils tussle in the second round?

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