Thursday, October 22, 2009

WTA: Year-End Championship

The field is complete for the WTA Year-End Championship set to take place at Doha in a couple of days. The only 2009 Grand Slam winner/finalist to not make it into the Top 8 is US Open champion Kim Clijsters. She is currently ranked 18 and has only played three tournaments since her fairy tale comeback.

The elite eight women vying for the end-of-year prize are:

1. Dinara Safina - Still without a Grand Slam title to her name, Safina won three titles and made another five finals this year including being runner-up at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

Grand Slam Results: F, F, SF, 3r
Titles: Rome, Madrid, Portoroz
Runner-Up: Australian Open, Roland Garros, Cincinnati, Stuttgart, Sydney

2. Serena Williams - Serena only won two titles this year, but those two were Grand Slams at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. And while she didn't make much of an impact on the regular tour (no titles and just one final), her strong performances at the other slams lifted her up.

Grand Slam Results: W, QF, W, SF
Titles: Australian Open, Wimbledon
Runner-Up: Miami

3. Svetlana Kuznetsova - From out of nowhere, Svetlana was able to dig down to claim her second Grand Slam win after winning her first nearly five years ago.

Grand Slam Results: QF, W, 3r, 4r
Titles: Roland Garros, Stuttgart
Runner-Up: Rome

4. Caroline Wozniacki - A smashing year for the young Swede, Wozniacki reached a tour-high eight finals including her first Grand Slam final at the US Open. She also won three titles matching her results from last year.

Grand Slam Results: 3r, 3r, 4r, F
Titles: Eastbourne, New Haven, Ponte Vedra Beach
Runner-Up: US Open, Madrid, Charleston, Memphis, Bastad

5. Elena Dementieva - With three titles and winner of the US Open series, Dementieva posted very solid results this year. She also came within a win to reach a Grand Slam final twice this year, but was thwarted both times by Serena.

Grand Slam Results: SF, 3r, SF, 2r
Titles: Toronto, Sydney, Aukland
Runner-Up: Paris

6. Victoria Azarenka - Azarenka had a breakthrough year on the tour this year winning her first three titles, reaching her first (and second) Grand Slam quarterfinal, and rising to the Top Ten.

Grand Slam Results: 4r, QF, QF, 3r
Titles: Miami, Brisbane, Memphis

7. Venus Williams - With Venus' finals appearance this year at Wimbledon, she has made the finals at Wimbledon 8 out of 10 times this decade with 2004 and 2006 the only years she has failed to do so. She is the defending year-end tournament champion.

Grand Slam Results: 2r, 3r, F, 4r
Titles: Dubai, Acapulco
Runner-Up: Wimbledon, Stanford

8. Jelena Jankovic - It's a great effort for her to make it into the year-end championship, but this year has been rocky for the former world no. 1. She did win two titles this year and has at least done better than fellow Serb Ana Ivanovic.

Grand Slam Results: 4r, 4r, 3r, 2r
Titles: Cincinatti, Marbella,
Runner-Up: Tokyo

With injuries and general fatiguesness on both the men and the women's tour, it'll be somewhat of a miracle if all of the players show up healthy and ready to play considering most of their recent results (after the US Open) have been quite abysmal. For this reason, Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska will also fly to Doha as alternates.

Fun (Sad?) Fact #1: Other than Serena Williams, each of the top eight players has lost in the 3rd round or earlier in at least one Grand Slam this year.

Fun Fact #2: This is the first time that Serena and Venus Williams have qualified to play doubles in the Year-End Championships. It's no surprise however, since they bagged 3 of the 4 Grand Slams doubles titles this year.

Fun Fact #3: Depending on their results, either Dinara Safina or Serena Williams will end the year with the number one ranking.

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