The Abierto Mexicano Telcel welcomed the WTA in 2001, becoming a combined tournament after being an ATP-only event since 1993. Since then it has become a hugely popular stop on the women’s tour, with recent champions including such familiar names as Sara Errani (2012-13), Flavia Pennetta (2005, 2008) and Venus Williams (2009-10).
In 2014, the tournament will be played on hard courts for the first time in its history, transforming it from the concluding stop on the ‘Golden Swing’ of spring clay-court tournaments in South and Latin America – an honour now held by the new combined ATP/WTA event in Rio de Janeiro – to a vital warm-up tournament to help top players get attuned to outdoor hard courts ahead of the major events at Indian Wells and Miami.
Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova leads the women’s field at the 2014 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, looking to bounce back from an unfortunate illness at the Qatar Total Open in Doha which caused her to retire during her first-round match in the only WTA tour event she has played since her stunning run to the final in Melbourne. World no. 13 Cibulkova will be joined by a diverse field that includes world no 25 Kaia Kanepi, a big-hitting Estonian who has been a Grand Slam quarter-finalist five times. Kanepi missed everything between September 2012 and April 2013 due to injury and has been shooting back up the rankings on her return.
World no. 19 Eugenie Bouchard, a brand new star in women’s tennis after her sensational semi-final finish at the Australian Open, plays the Abierto Mexicano Telcel for the first time alongside fellow young talents Ajla Tomjlanovic of Croatia, Kristina Mladenovic of France – twice a Grand Slam champion in doubles already – and Christina McHale of the USA.
Julia Goerges, Magdalena Rybarikova, Bojana Jovanovski, Yanina Wickmayer – who upset Andrea Petkovic and Caroline Wozniacki at the Qatar Total Open in Doha recently - and Urszula Radwanska will also be in action, along with Japan’s Kurumi Nara, who reached her second quarter-final of the year at the inaugural Rio Open.
Wildcards for the main draw have been offered to Mexico’s top WTA player Ana Sofia Sanches (ranked no. 320 in the world) and the USA’s Tornado Alicia Black, the runner-up in the US Open girls’ singles in 2013.
Due to the constant growing popularity of the tournament, the capacity of Court 1 will be increased from 800 to 2,000. In addition, admission to the qualifying tournaments will be charged for the first time, with a cost of 100 pesos per ticket with the profits going to the community of Eden, one of those most affected by the destructive force of Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel in autumn last year.
With total prize money of $220,000 on offer as well as 280 ranking points (for the champion), prestige and the opportunity to fine-tune one’s game ahead of Indian Wells, the first edition of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel to be played on hard courts is sure to be a great success.