STUTTGART: World number one Victoria Azarenka, second-ranked Maria Sharapova and number three Petra Kvitova begin their French Open build-up today at the star-studded $740,000 Stuttgart tournament. Belarusian Azarenka, the Australian Open champion, returns to action for the first time since her 26-match winning streak ended at the hands of Marion Bartoli in the quarter-final of the Miami hardcourt event. Meanwhile, Sharapova was beaten by Azarenka in the Melbourne final and in the Indian Wells title match before losing in the Miami final. The Russian star, who has yet to make the final of the French Open, falling in the semi-finals twice, believed she has developed a better understanding of claycourt tennis as her career has progressed.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.