Daniela, Maria Complete Elite Eight
ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA - Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchova have clinched the final two singles berths at the 2007 Sony Ericsson Championships, set to take place in Madrid's Recinto Ferial Casa de Campo arena, November 6-11. They join an already-impressive line-up made up of Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Anna Chakvetadze.
For Sharapova, this is the fourth consecutive year in her career that she has qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships. She was a champion at the event in 2004 and has been a semifinalist each of the last two years.
"This has been a very frustrating year for me physically but I'm a big competitor and am determined to compete at the Sony Ericsson Championships," Sharapova said.
Following her win at the Generali Ladies Linz in Austria, Hantuchova clinched her spot by outperforming her nearest challenger, Marion Bartoli, currently in the first alternate spot. This is her second appearance in singles at the Sony Ericsson Championships, having previously competed in the year-end event in 2002.
"It is definitely a dream come true for me this year and I know I did everything possible to qualify for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Madrid," Hantuchova said. "All my hard work this year will make this a great reward. I am just going to enjoy every single match so much. I'm thrilled to be a part of it and am really looking forward to going to Madrid."
Venus Williams, originally in seventh place in the Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships points standings, has been forced to withdraw. Following the incident of dizziness that she suffered at the US Open earlier this year, Venus underwent a series of tests, along with follow-up tests after returning from tournaments that she played in Asia in the fall, with her doctors' advice at this time to finalize the testing process and take a break from competitive play.
"This year has been a great one for many reasons," said the Wimbledon winner. "I am pleased that I finished the year in the top eight and in recent weeks I have remained optimistic about participating in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships. Nevertheless, the accumulation of matches has taken its toll and I have received several medical opinions to delay my return to competitive tennis. As a result, I will miss the Sony Ericsson Championships. I look forward to playing in the New Year for what will hopefully be an even better 2008."
"This year's Sony Ericsson Championships will feature one of the very best fields in the tournaments history, with so many compelling champions and rising stars," said Larry Scott, Chairman & CEO of the Tour. "Having a global megastar such as Maria Sharapova and the hugely popular Daniela Hantuchova, each of whom has had a fantastic 2007 season, round out the singles event is a tremendous boost for the event and will showcase the very best womens tennis has to offer."
"The Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships this year has been thrilling, and it's a great credit to Maria and Daniela that they have secured spots for Madrid," said Dee Dutta, CVP and Global Head of Marketing at Sony Ericsson. "With so many current and future champions in the field, fans will truly be treated to the best of the best in women's tennis."
"Once again we have a tremendous field. Having Maria and Daniela in Madrid is great news. I look forward to seeing them all next week. It is going to be an extraordinary week of womens tennis," said Manolo Santana, Tournament Director.
The Sony Ericsson Championships is the richest annual women's sporting event in the world. The tournament is the year-ending punctuation to an 11-month global Tour which finally gathers the Top 8 singles players and Top 4 doubles teams from the season to battle it out for a share of the $3-million prize purse. Since its inception in 1972, the event has been held in such notable venues as Madison Square Garden, New York City, the Olympiahalle in Munich and The Forum and Staples Centre in Los Angeles. Former singles champions include Tracy Austin, Kim Clijsters, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Gabriela Sabatini and Serena Williams. The reigning champions are Henin (singles) and Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur (doubles).