Race Update: September 11, 2006
World No.3 Maria Sharapova (RUS) became the third player to qualify for the Sony Ericsson Championships following her resounding victory at the US Open on Saturday. The 19-year-old Russian collected her second Grand Slam singles title with wins over the worlds top 2 players world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) in the semifinals and No.2 Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL) in the final both of whom have already booked their tickets to Madrid.
Sharapova earned 700 valuable points with her triumph at Flushing Meadows (2727 points in total); while she remains in 3rd place in this weeks Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships, she is just eight points behind 2nd-placed Mauresmo. Henin-Hardenne (3473) and Mauresmo (2735) were confirmed as the first two qualifiers on August 21.
Sharapovas compatriot Dinara Safina (RUS) improved her chances of a spot in the elite eight-woman singles field in Madrid with a quarterfinal finish in New York; the 20-year-old from Moscow moves up one spot to 9th place (1363). The only other movement in the Top 15 of the singles Race saw US Open semifinalist Jelena Jankovic (SCG) surge from 20th to 14th (971).
Doubles Race leaders Lisa Raymond (USA) and Samantha Stosur (AUS) extended their lead over 2nd-placed Yan Zi (CHN) and Zheng Jie (CHN) to 502 points (3448 to 2946) with a semifinal effort in New York. Meanwhile, the Chinese duo, winners at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year, were upset in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows. Cara Black (ZIM) and Rennae Stubbs (AUS) hold down 3rd place with 2004 points, with Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) and Ai Sugiyama (JPN) in 4th (1746), 317 points ahead of 5th-placed Virginia Ruano Pascual (ESP) and Paola Suarez (ARG) (1429).
The doubles Race saw some big changes in the lower reaches of the Top 10, with new entries in the 9th and 10th positions by the two US Open finalist teams. Surprise US Open champions, the unseeded duo of Nathalie Dechy (FRA) and Vera Zvonareva (RUS), rocketed from equal-35th to 10th (917 points) with a finals win over Safina and Katarina Srebotik (SLO), who move eight spots to 9th (849).
The Sony Ericsson Championships will gather the Top 8 singles players and Top 4 doubles teams from the regular 2006 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season as they battle it out for the season-ending titles and a share of the $3-million prize purse. The defending champions are Mauresmo (singles) and Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur (doubles). The Sony Ericsson Championships will be played for the first time at Madrid Arena, November 7-12, 2006. For more information, please visit sonyericsson-championships.com.
RACE TO THE SONY ERICSSON CHAMPIONSHIPS
As of September 11, 2006
(previous position in parentheses | ** indicates players already qualified)
1. (1) Justine Henin-Hardene (BEL) 3473**
2. (2) Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) 2735**
3. (3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 2727**
4. (4) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 2093
5. (5) Kim Clijsters (BEL) 1860
6. (6) Martina Hingis (SUI) 1719
7. (7) Elena Dementieva (RUS) 1704
8. (8) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 1549
9. (10) Dinara Safina (RUS) 1363
10. (9) Patty Schnyder (SUI) 1326
11. (11) Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) 1168
12. (12) Anastasia Myskina (RUS) 1000
13. (13) Ana Ivanovic (SCG) 974
14. (20) Jelena Jankovic (SCG) 971
15. (14) Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) 898
(previous position in parentheses)
1. (1) Lisa Raymond / Samantha Stosur (USA/AUS) 3448
2. (2) Yan Zi / Zheng Jie (CHN/CHN) 2946
3. (3) Cara Black / Rennae Stubbs (ZIM/AUS) 2004
4. (4) Daniela Hantuchova / Ai Sugiyama (SVK/JPN) 1746
5. (5) Virginia Ruano Pascual / Paola Suarez (ESP/ARG) 1429
6. (6) Kveta Peschke / Francesca Schiavone (CZE/ITA) 1403
7. (7) Eleni Daniilidou / Anabel Medina Garrigues (GRE/ESP) 1010
8. (8) Meghann Shaughnessy / Anna-Lena Groenefeld (USA/GER) 975
9. (17) Dinara Safina / Catarina Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) 849
10. (=35) Natalie Dechy / Vera Zvonareva (FRA/RUS) 917