Vaidisova keen to improve world ranking

Czech tennis ace Nicole Vaidisova is looking to turn over a new leaf in Auckland after "a year of transition" in which the former top-10's ranking took a dive.

Vaidisova, 19, flew in yesterday the first of the big names to arrive for the WTA Tour season-opening ASB Classic, which begins on Monday.

She will be the $US220,000 ($NZ386,000) tournament's sixth seed.

The winner of six WTA titles and once the world No7, Vaidisova saw her ranking fall over the past year from 12th to 41st on the back of a nagging wrist injury.

"I took some time off and did a lot of rehab and I feel as well as I can be," she said.

"I worked hard in the off-season, so my goal is just to get back to where I was at the start of this year."

After making the quarter-finals at Wimbledon for the second time in July, Vaidisova's results fell away over the remainder of 2008.

She did not want to give reasons or make excuses for her poor run. "I don't think everybody can play well all the time," she said.

"It was just a year for me of transition, a lot changes, and it took a toll. I'm just ready for next year."

Vaidisova is making her first appearance in the classic.

Her arrival was balanced by news that Slovakian Katarina Srebotnik had pulled out with an ankle injury.

Srebotnik, world-ranked No20, has played in Auckland in six of the past nine years and won both the singles and doubles titles in 2005.

Her withdrawal comes a fortnight after Russian Nadia Petrova, the world No11, was ruled out after being hospitalised with viral meningitis.

The absence of Petrova and Srebotnik, who would have been the second and fourth seeds respectively, means the classic will have just two top-20 players in Russian Elena Dementieva (No4) and Caroline Wozniacki (No12).

Srebotnik's misfortune means Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai, last January's runner-up, moves into the main draw.NZPA

The Press