The Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia is, in my opinion, the anti-climax of the women’s tennis season, as the finale for the WTA’s International Series following the much more prestigious WTA Championships, and what makes it even more odd is that the closing matches will coincide with the Fed Cup World Group final. To make things worse, Ana Ivanovic cannot defend her title in Sofia because she is playing for her country of Serbia in the Fed Cup against the Czech Republic. But let’s accept the situation we have and see what happened on Day one of the Tournament of Champions, which has relocated from Bali to Sofia for the first time this year.
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki cruised to a 6-2 6-2 victory over Hsieh Su-Wei, converting all five of her break opportunities. Wozniacki is also in action tomorrow, in the third match of the day, and her Serdika Group opponent is Roberta Vinci, who has actually won their one and only previous career meeting. Just like Wozniacki, Vinci needed just over an hour to see off her opponent, Daniela Hantuchova, 6-1 6-2.
Home star Tsvetana Pironkova is yet to win a WTA title and she entered the tournament by virtue of a wildcard, but she justified the chance she has been given by winning a 2-6 6-4 7-6(4) marathon against Zheng Jie, to whom she had lost on both the previous occasions. The Bulgarian is in the Sredets Group and after the most emotional win of her career, which came after a 6-2 4-4 deficit, she will face Maria Kirilenko, also a wildcard, in the second match on Wednesday. Tomorrow’s action will open the match between Zheng Jie and Nadia Petrova. (photo: © Neal Trousdale)