Azarenka will be back to defend her singles title


Victoria Azarenka will bring her No. 5 world ranking to the Taube Family Tennis Stadium in July to defend her singles title in the 2011 Bank of the West Classic.

The 21-year-old Belarusian has been playing some of the best tennis of her career in 2011 while winning titles at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami and the clay court event in Marbella. In addition, she reached the final at Madrid and advanced to the quarterfinals of the French Open at Roland Garros before falling to eventual champion Li Na.

Last year, as the Bank of the West Classic's No. 8 seed, Azarenka knocked off No. 4 seed Marion Bartoli, No. 1 seed Samantha Stosur and No. 5 seed Maria Sharapova en route to the title.

This summer the Bank of the West Classic will also welcome back former top-10 players Daniela Hantuchova and Kimiko Date-Krumm.

Hantuchova has four career WTA singles titles to her credit including a win this season at Pattaya City. She reached the Round of 16 at Roland Garros which included a straight set win over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. The Slovakian star has been ranked as high as No. 5 in the world.

A former world No. 4, Date-Krumm has won eight career WTA singles titles. The Japan legend returned to the tour in 2008 after a 10 year retirement, and in 2009 won her eighth singles title at the age of 38 becoming the second oldest player in the Open Era to capture a WTA singles title. She remains one of the most dangerous players on tour having recorded eight top-20 wins last year.

The addition of Azarenka, Hantuchova and Date-Krumm adds the already strong player field which includes three-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, French Open semifinalist Bartoli and current world No. 10 Stosur.

The tournament now has commitments from four of the current top-10 ranked players in the world including Azarenka (No. 5), Sharapova (No. 6), Bartoli (No. 9) and Stosur (No. 10).

Tickets for the event, which will be held July 25-31 at Stanford, can be purchased by calling the box office at 866-WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497) or by logging on to

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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