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Draw gets thinner in Carson

Fourth-ranked Kuznetsova drops out because of knee injury. Serena Williams is still questionable after quitting at Stanford.

July 21, 2008|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Late afternoon and another top player went tumbling out of the East West Bank Classic in Carson because of a knee injury.

The one surprise Sunday was that it was No. 4-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova, the U.S. Open champion in 2004, not Serena Williams, who is considered questionable after injuring her left knee in the semifinals at Stanford on Saturday and having to pull out there.

Already gone from Carson were Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport, both nursing injured right knees. Kuznetsova also has an injured right knee and has not played since Wimbledon.

If this keeps up, they might have to call it the Going South Bank Classic.

Despite the wounded-knee theme, there are two prevailing story lines for the tournament, which starts today at the Home Depot Center.

The first would be the health of Serena Williams and whether she makes it on the court, a delicate balancing act given her desire to play in the Olympics next month in Beijing. Williams was to have an MRI exam, and if all goes well, she could be given a late start in Carson.

Then there's Jelena Jankovic's No. 1 campaign. The engaging 23-year-old Serbian player might be able to become No. 1 in the world by winning the title in Carson, supplanting her countrywoman Ana Ivanovic.

Jankovic is ranked a career-high No. 2 and has made the semifinal of a Grand Slam event four times, including twice this year, at the Australian Open and the French Open.

She has a first-round bye here and will play either Vania King of Long Beach or a qualifier in the second round. The highest-seeded players in Jankovic's half of the draw are No. 4 Dinara Safina and No. 5 Vera Zvonareva.

Serena Williams (No. 2) and Anna Chakvetadze (No. 3) are on the other side of the draw and could meet in the semifinals.

Then there's the eventful recent run of 20-year-old Aleksandra Wozniak, who became the first Canadian to win a WTA Tour singles title in 20 years, beating an injured Marion Bartoli in the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford on Sunday.

"I think it's great," Wozniak told reporters afterward. "I think I made history at home. Everybody was watching the match. I'm just proud of being Canadian.

Including qualifying, the native of Blainville needed eight matches to win the tournament and was playing Serena Williams in the semifinals when Williams injured her knee and retired in the second set.

In Carson, Wozniak will play 10th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy in the first round, and is in the same quarter of the draw as Chakvetadze and No. 7 Patty Schnyder.

Wild-card spots went to Jamea Jackson, Bethanie Mattek and Coco Vandeweghe.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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East West Bank Classic

* Where: Home Depot Center, Carson.

* When: Today through Sunday.

* Surface: Hardcourt. Tournament is part of the U.S. Open Series.

* TV: Friday: ESPN2, 8-10 p.m.; Tennis Channel, noon-4 p.m.

Saturday: ESPN2, 7-9 p.m.; Tennis Channel, 4-6 p.m.

Sunday: ESPN2, 2-4 p.m.; Tennis Channel, 6:30-8 p.m.

* Top seeded players: Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Anna Chakvetadze, Dinara Safina, Daniela Hantuchova and Patty Schnyder.

* Tickets: 1-877-AEG-TICKETS (234-8425) or www.eastwestbankclassic.com.

-- Lisa Dillman

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