Kim Clijsters will bring a 20-match winning streak on hard courts to the Acura Classic, which begins today in La Costa.
Clijsters, who is seeded No. 1, won the first tournament of the U.S. summer season Sunday with a victory over Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford.
The Acura Classic lost three of its marquee names last week when Venus and Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport all pulled out.
Davenport plans to make her comeback from a back injury at the JP Morgan Chase Open next week in Carson.
Venus Williams hasn’t played since losing in the third round at Wimbledon and said wrist pain was the reason she had to withdraw from this tournament.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams, who was given a wild-card entry into La Costa, withdrew citing “doctor’s advice” after playing in Cincinnati two weeks ago -- her first tournament in six months. Despite the long layoff, she made it to the semifinals before losing to Vera Zvonareva.
One who will be at La Costa is Maria Sharapova, who is seeded second and is playing her first match since losing in the Wimbledon semifinals to eventual champion Amelie Mauresmo.
Also playing will be Martina Hingis, who is seeded eighth and is at La Costa for the first time since 2001, when she lost in the finals to Monica Seles.
Hingis, who won here in 1997 and 1999, and defending champion Mary Pierce, seeded sixth, will play their opening matches Tuesday afternoon, and Sharapova’s is set for Tuesday evening. Pierce, 31, has been sidelined since February with a foot injury.
Wimbledon finalist Justine Henin-Hardenne, ranked second in the world, and No. 7-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova also have withdrawn from the event.
-- Diane Pucin