Sony Ericsson Race Update: September 25, 2006
With just six weeks left in the regular Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season, the battle for the last five remaining singles spots in the Sony Ericsson Championships is heating up. With her China Open title in Beijing, Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) is in the drivers seat to secure the next spot in the elite eight-woman field in Madrid. Kuznetsova, who also won the Wismilak International in Bali, Indonesia the previous week, has opened up a clear lead in 4th place (2433 points) over 5th-placed Kim Clijsters (BEL) (1860) and 6th-placed Martina Hingis (SUI) (1839), although the latter picked up valuable points last week in winning the Tier III Sunfeast Open title in Kolkata, India, her second Tour victory of the season.
Should Hingis qualify, it will be the former No.1s first appearance in the Tours season-ending event since winning the 2000 title. Foot and ankle injuries forced her withdrawal from the Championships in both 2001 and 2002.
The only movement in the Top 15 of the Singles Race this week saw a resurgent Jelena Jankovic (SCG) continue her climb to possible qualification. The US Open semifinalist reached the last four in Beijing, narrowly losing to world No.1 Amélie Mauresmo (FRA), one of three women already confirmed for the season-ending event; Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL) and Maria Sharapova (RUS) are the other two. The remainder of the Top 8 in the Singles Race has Elena Dementieva (RUS) in 7th place (1704) and Nadia Petrova (RUS) in 8th (1598).
In the Doubles Race, 5th-placed Virginia Ruano Pascual (ESP) and Paola Suárez (ARG) closed the gap on 4th-placed Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) and Ai Sugiyama (JPN) with their victory at the China Open. The Latin duo is now just 122 points behind Hantuchova and Sugiyama, who are not planning on playing together much in the fall. Despite a shock first round loss in their home event, the China Open, reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles champions Yan Zi (CHN) and Zheng Jie (CHN) were announced as the second team to book a spot in Madrid. Lisa Raymond (USA) and Samantha Stosur (AUS) were the first players to qualify for the four-team field on September 15.
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.
RACE TO THE SONY ERICSSON CHAMPIONSHIPS
As of September 25, 2006
(previous position in parentheses | ** indicates players already qualified)
1. (1) Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL) 3473**
2. (2) Amélie Mauresmo (FRA) 2872**
3. (3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 2727**
4. (4) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 2433
5. (5) Kim Clijsters (BEL) 1860
6. (6) Martina Hingis (SUI) 1839
7. (7) Elena Dementieva (RUS) 1704
8. (8) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 1598
9. (9) Patty Schnyder (SUI) 1392
10. (10) Dinara Safina (RUS) 1363
11. (11) Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) 1169
12. (14) Jelena Jankovic (SCG) 1059
13. (12) Anastasia Myskina (RUS) 1000
14. (13) Ana Ivanovic (SCG) 975
15. (15) Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) 898
(previous position in parentheses | ** indicates teams already qualified)
1. (1) Lisa Raymond / Samantha Stosur (USA/AUS) 3448 **
2. (2) Yan Zi / Zheng Jie (CHN/CHN) 2947**
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) 1624
6. (6) Kveta Peschke / Francesca Schiavone (CZE/ITA) 1403
7. (7) Eleni Daniilidou / Anabel Medina Garrigues (GRE/ESP) 1011
8. (8) Meghann Shaughnessy / Anna-Lena Groenefeld (USA/GER) 975
9. (9) Dinara Safina / Katarina Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) 957
10. (10) Natalie Dechy / Vera Zvonareva (FRA/RUS) 917