TOKYO — World number one Caroline Wozniacki said she hopes to bring cheer to Japan's earthquake survivors by giving her "best performance" at the Pan Pacific Open starting in Tokyo next month.
"My heart is always with those who were affected by the earthquake disaster in March this year. I was hoping to come to Japan and do something to cheer you up," the 21-year-old Dane said in a statement on Friday.
Nine of the world's top 10 women players will compete in the $2.05 million hard court tournament starting September 25, with only last year's French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy opting out.
The 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami left more than 20,000 dead or missing along Japan's northeastern Pacific coast, and triggered a series of meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
It was the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago
"Japan is a special country for me, as many of my special memories are from the country. It truly hurt my heart to see people there facing the earthquake disaster," Wozniacki, the defending champion, said.
"I hope I will be able to support them when I come to Japan this fall."
Li Na of China, who became Asia's first Grand Slam champion at the French Open, said she was also looking forward to playing in Tokyo.
"I was deeply saddened by the terrible disaster," she added.
"I have always loved the fans in Japan, and I continue to think about you during these difficult times."
Crowd favourite Maria Sharapova, a two-time Pan-Pac champion, is hoping to fair better in the tournament after a disappointing first-round defeat to veteran Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm last year.
Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters of Belgium, who in March said she would withdraw from the Tokyo competition, changed her mind and is on the entry list alongside Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
Other lower-ranked players on the list include former world number ones Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, both from Serbia, and Serena and Venus Williams of the United States.
Please login to add to favorites
Already added to favorites
Added as Favorite