IN ALL honesty, the women’s tennis season ending highlight, the WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles, was a disappointment. Petrova and Dementieva were mere cannon fodder, Maria Sharapova, often brilliant, did not seem to have her heart in the competition, while Kim Clijsters failed to show anything remotely near her best form. That left Patty Schnyder, willing but not good enough, and the unglamorous trio of veterans, Lindsay Davenport, Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce. Several closely contested matches later, the French duo of Pierce and Mauresmo emerged to contest the final, Mauresmo taking the title in three sets.
This week the men take their turn in Shanghai – Federer is back from injury, but Roddick, Safin and Hewitt have all withdrawn, leaving Coria, Ljubicic and Nalbandian to do battle with the Swiss world number one. In the other group Nadal, Agassi, Davydenko and Gaudio will fight for a place in the last four.