Sony Ericsson Race Update: October 16, 2006
The battle for the final four singles spots at the Sony Ericsson Championships is coming down to the final three weeks of the regular season with five players still within reach of qualifying for the $3-million, season-ending extravaganza. This year's Race to The Championships is one of the closest in years, as the final eight go down to the wire.
Following this past week's Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russians Nadia Petrova and Elena Dementieva both increased their chances, moving up to No.5 and No.6, respectively. Moscow runner-up Nadia Petrova moved up two spots from No.7 to No.5, switching places with Kim Clijsters. Clijsters (BEL) has been rehabilitating a left wrist injury but is expected to return to competition the week before the Championships at the Gaz de France Stars in Hasselt, Belgium. The next two weeks preceding Hasselt provides players below her an opportunity to grab their place in the elite eight.
Elena Dementieva stepped up one spot to No.6 with a semifinal finish in Moscow. The Russian is the fourth seed this week at the Zurich Open, where she has the opportunity to gain more speed in the Race. With only 86 points separating Petrova and Dementieva, a quarterfinal finish in Zurich would allow Dementieva to pass No.5 Petrova, who is not playing this week.
Also in action are potential Sony Ericsson Championship qualifiers Martina Hingis (currently No.8 in the standings), Patty Schnyder (No.9) and Nicole Vaidisova (No.11). Hingis leads Schnyder with a solid 236 point lead and needs only nine points to pass No.7 Clijsters, which can be accomplished by defeating her first round opponent of Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Schnyder and Vaidisova would need to outperform everyone in the draw this week and in their following events to secure a ticket to Madrid.
The first four players to qualify for the eight-woman singles field in Madrid were Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL), Amélie Mauresmo (FRA), Maria Sharapova (RUS) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS).
The doubles portion of the Sony Ericsson Race to the Championships is in a very similar position, with only two of the spots in Madrid confirmed. Kveta Peschke (CZE) and Francesca Schiavone (ITA) added valuable points to their total with a win in Moscow, overtaking the 4th spot from Virginia Ruano Pascual (ESP) and Paola Suárez (ARG), who drop to No.5. Although upset in the first round of Moscow, Cara Black (ZIM) and Rennae Stubbs (AUS) still hold on to the No.3 spot with a 206 point lead over Peschke/Schiavone. Black/Stubbs, Ruano Pascual/Suarez and Peschke/Schiavone are all in contention this week in Zurich.
Co-World No.1 doubles players Lisa Raymond (USA) and Samantha Stosur (AUS) were the first to qualify for the four-team doubles field in Madrid. Australian Open and Wimbledon champions Yan Zi (CHN) and Zheng Jie (CHN) were the second team to qualify.
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 October 16, 2006
(previous position in parentheses | ** indicates players already qualified)
1. (1) Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL) 3473**
2. (2) Amélie Mauresmo (FRA) 2947**
3. (3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 2802**
4. (4) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 2533**
5. (7) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 2029
6. (8) Elena Dementieva (RUS) 1943
7. (5) Kim Clijsters (BEL) 1860
8. (6) Martina Hingis (SUI) 1851
9. (9) Patty Schnyder (SUI) 1615
10. (10) Dinara Safina (RUS) 1442
11. (11) Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) 1304
12. (11) Jelena Jankovic (SCG) 1169
13. (20) Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) 1124
14. (13) Anastasia Myskina (RUS) 1000
15. (15) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 980
(previous position in parentheses | ** indicates teams already qualified)
1. (1) Lisa Raymond / Samantha Stosur (USA/AUS) 3670**
2. (2) Yan Zi / Zheng Jie (CHN/CHN) 2947**
3. (3) Cara Black / Rennae Stubbs (ZIM/AUS) 2159
4. (6) Kveta Peschke / Francesca Schiavone (CZE/ITA) 1953
5. (4) Virginia Ruano Pascual / Paola Suarez (ESP/ARG) 1774
6. (5) Daniela Hantuchova / Ai Sugiyama (SVK/JPN) 1746
7. (7) Dinara Safina / Katarina Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) 1144
8. (8) Eleni Daniilidou / Anabel Medina Garrigues (GRE/ESP) 1011
9. (9) Meghann Shaughnessy / Anna-Lena Groenefeld (USA/GER) 975
10. (10) Li Ting / Sun Tiantian (CHN/CHN) 930