Sony Ericsson Race Update: October 23, 2006
With just three tournaments left in the regular Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season, the same amount of spots remain open for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships two in singles and one in doubles. The latest players to grab spots are doubles veterans Cara Black (ZIM) and Rennae Stubbs (ZIM), winners of Tier I titles at the Acura Classic in San Diego in August and last weekends Zurich Open in Zürich, Switzerland.
The 2004 Wimbledon doubles champions and winners of 10 other Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles since 2003, Black and Stubbs are the only team to have qualified for the Tours crown-jewel event for the past three years; they have been runners-up the past two years, in 2004 and 2005. Black and Stubbs join singles players Nadia Petrova (RUS) and Elena Dementieva (RUS) who were announced last week as the fifth and sixth qualifiers respectively in the elite eight-woman singles field.
The fourth and final doubles berth is going down to the wire, with two teams still in contention. Fourth-placed Kveta Peschke (CZE) and Francesca Schiavone (ITA) are currently 147 points ahead of fifth-placed Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) and Ai Sugiyama (JPN); both teams are competing this week at the Generali Ladies Linz in Linz, Austria.
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 secure a spot in the four-team field.
The singles Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships is equally enthralling, with three players vying for the final two berths. Martina Hingis (SUI) is next in line to qualify; the only way she would miss out on her first qualification in four years would be if compatriot Patty Schnyder (SUI) (currently in ninth place) wins in Linz this week and at next weeks Gaz de France Stars in Hasselt, Belgium, and if eighth-placed Kim Clijsters (BEL) also performs well next week in Hasselt. Schnyder is not currently entered in Hasselt, although she may make a late entry if a spot in Madrid is still a possibility.
Set to make her return to the Tour next week, Clijsters has been out of action since August with a left wrist injury. Currently 244 points ahead of Schnyder, Clijsters is in a strong position to take the eighth spot, but should Schnyder emerge victorious this week in Austria it could be an exciting battle next week on Clijsterss home turf.
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 Amélie 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 23, 2006
(previous position in parentheses | ** indicates players already qualified)
1. (1) Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL) 3473**
2. (3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 3102**
3. (2) Amélie Mauresmo (FRA) 3022**
4. (4) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 2668**
5. (5) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 2029**
6. (6) Elena Dementieva (RUS) 1944**
7. (8) Martina Hingis (SUI) 1926
8. (7) Kim Clijsters (BEL) 1860
9. (9) Patty Schnyder (SUI) 1616
10. (10) Dinara Safina (RUS) 1442
11. (11) Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) 1305
12. (12) Jelena Jankovic (SCG) 1211
13. (13) Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) 1124
14. (20) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 1065
15. (15) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 1022
(previous position in parentheses | ** indicates teams already qualified)
1. (1) Lisa Raymond / Samantha Stosur (USA/AUS) 3805**
2. (2) Yan Zi / Zheng Jie (CHN/CHN) 3022**
3. (3) Cara Black / Rennae Stubbs (ZIM/AUS) 2459**
4. (4) Kveta Peschke / Francesca Schiavone (CZE/ITA) 2028
5. (6) Daniela Hantuchova / Ai Sugiyama (SVK/JPN) 1881
6. (5) Virginia Ruano Pascual / Paola Suarez (ESP/ARG) 1775
7. (7) Dinara Safina / Katarina Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) 1144
8. (9) Meghann Shaughnessy / Anna-Lena Groenefeld (USA/GER) 1050
9. (8) Eleni Daniilidou / Anabel Medina Garrigues (GRE/ESP) 1011
10. (10) Li Ting / Sun Tiantian (CHN/CHN) 930