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Saturday, April 14, 2007

How is Russia doing in 2007 on the WTA Tour?

Here's an update on Russia's progress in the first quarter of 2007 on the ladies' professional tennis circuit. It's not a pretty picture.

currently has seven women ranked in the top 20 in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) based on their performance over the past 365 days. We can see how bad a 2007 season the Russians are having by comparing those rankings to the players’ positions on the 2007 calendar year points race.Only one of the players, Anna Chakvetadze (who lives in Moscow), has a higher place on the calendar-year rankings than she has on the full-year rankings.

Maria Sharapova (who lives in the United States<) is #2 for the full year but #4 in 2007. Svetlana Kuznetsova, who lives in St. Petersburg, is #5 for the full year but #8 in 2007. Nadia Petrova, who lives in Moscow, is #7 for the full year but #13 in 2007. Dinara Safina, who lives in Monte Carlo legally and spends most of her time in Spain, is #12 for the full year but #17 in 2007. Elena Dementieva (who lives in Moscow), worst in the group this year, is #13 for the full year but only #24 in 2007. And Vera Zvonareva, who lives in Moscow, is #20 for the full year but #21 in 2007. Collectively, Russian top-20 players are 27 places below their full-year rankings so far this year.

True to form, Chakvetadze advanced the farthest at the most recent Tier I event, the Sony in Miami (as we previously reported), as Russia's other highly ranked players fell by the wayside, mostly getting squashed by lower-ranked non-Russian opponents. It's rather ironic that of Russia's seven top-twenty players two don't even live in Russia and a third would be seen by Slavic Russians as being Georgian (in fact, living in Moscow, Chakvetadze is lucky not to have been rounded up for deportation) -- yet one of those players is the highest-ranked in the group and a second is having by far the best year in the group. Without these barely-Russians, the group's performance would be even more dismal.

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