The 2013 Family Circle Cup will kick off this week from Charleston as some of the best women's tennis players in the world do battle in the WTA event.
Played on green clay, the event stands as an interesting tournament in light of the upcoming French Open—scheduled to take place in late May—as well as the overall women's ranking heading into the second Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Who are the big names to watch for in Charleston this week?
Read on and find out.
We must start here with the defending champion, Serena Williams, who will look to build on her success in Miami with another tournament victory.
The world No. 1 has been in remarkable form through 2013 so far and will know that a strong run here will have her primed for a strong French Open campaign—something she'll undoubtedly be desperate for after being stunned in the first round by Virginie Razzano last year.
Williams is a powerful hitter who can thrive on any surface, though clay is probably the weakest surface in her game. Even still, she can still generate great pace behind the ball here and will be a tough opponent to beat at the top of the draw.
2010 champion Sam Stosur knows what it takes to succeed in Charleston—having won it before—and she'll be looking to show that success here again when she takes the court.
Stosur hasn't quite lived up to the billing, so far, in 2013 and will be looking for a strong performance to get back on track. And with the draw that she's been given, there's a very strong chance that we'll still see the Australian alive come the second week of competitive.
Daniela Hantuchova is shaping up to be an interesting, but beatable, second-round test, whilst Laura Robson looms in the Round of 16. She'll be a tough opponent no doubt, but on clay, you'd have to think that Stosur will carry the advantage into that matchup.
From there, she could meet anyone in the quarterfinals, with plenty of potential upsets looming in the top half of her quadrant. And if that happens, then the Australian star—who is also a powerful hitter—could see herself with a strong run to the final.
She's definitely a dangerous player to watch out for.
American youngster Sloane Stephens has had a tremendous year on tour already and will prepare herself to have another strong campaign in this one.
She starred at the 2013 Australian Open—giving her the confidence to believe she can beat some of the best in the world—and if she carries that into the Family Circle Cup, she could repeat some of the success she's had at Grand Slams.
Given a favorable draw that sees no real threats, Stephens could very easily find herself in the quarterfinals of the tournament before she's even played a big-name player. For a youngster who thrives on upsetting the big names, that definitely makes her a dangerous player to watch here.
At the 2012 French Open, Stephens showed that she is a dominant force on clay, and she can make a very strong run in clay-court tournaments.
Look for that to take place again in this one.
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