Posted September. 18, 2010 14:34,
Tennis stars Maria Sharapova of Russia and Venus Williams of the U.S. have one thing in common: they have both played at the Hansol Korea Open, the lone tournament of the Women`s Tennis Association tour hosted by Korea.
After winning trophies in Seoul, they conveyed good memories in Seoul to their colleagues.
The Korea Open has emerged as a popular championship through word-of-mouth among professional players. This year`s event, which will begin at Seoul Olympic Park Saturday, has drawn as many as 12 of the top 50 players in the world.
World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Dinara Safina of Russia did not register but belatedly expressed their intent to play and received wild cards.
The No. 1 seed playing at the Guangzhou championship is ranked just 55th in the world and that of a tourney in Tashkent, Uzebekistan, 36th. In comparison, the top seed of the Korea Open is world No. 19 Nadia Petrova of Russia, illustrating the elevated status of the event.
The purse of the three championships is the same at 225,000 U.S. dollars each, the lowest on the tour. The Korea Open, which marks its ninth anniversary this year, has received positive reviews due to systematic organization of the competition and the arrangement of lodging and training facilities that consider athlete convenience.
Highly competitive players also famous for their good looks have signed up for this year`s event en masse, heralding an intense competition. Ivanovic and Safina, who will make their debut at a Korea-hosted event, will likely draw keen attention.
With a number of world-class players in attendance, Korean players will likely face an uphill battle in the tournament. No Korean has won an individual match at the event but Lee Jin-a and Kim So-jeong will seek to break that jinx.
Diverse events and activities will also occur on the sidelines of the championship, including a fan signing event, a one-point clinic and children`s tennis class coinciding with the Chuseok (Full Moon Harvest) holidays that start Tuesday.