Tennis is like a geography lesson to me. If someone said I had to make a trip to Dohar, I would have no idea where it was, or what country it was in. But because the Sony Ericsson year ending WTA Championships are being held there, I looked at a map and discovered Qatar, and Doha. Doha is a city, modern and new, built with oil money on what used to be the site of a small fishing town. The Khalifa International Tennis Complex is the site for this much heralded tournament. The best 8 women players will compete in a two tier round robin singles event, while the best 4 doubles pairs compete in a round robin doubles competition. The line up of participants is as impressive as the prize money. Jelena Jankovic the world’s number 1 player will be there along with the winners of the US Open, Serena Williams, the winner of the French Open, Ana Ivanovic, the winner of Wimbledon, Venus Williams, the Gold Medal winner from the Olympics in Beijing Elena Dementiava, Svetlana Kuznetsova a past US Open winner, Dinard Safina, one of the hottest players of 2008 and Vera Zvonerava who just made it into this select group by the skin of her teeth. She did win in Dohar earlier in the year at the Qatar Open. The only player missing from this group is Maria Sharapova who is still rehabbing from a shoulder injury.
The top four doubles pairs has not been decided yet. Already qualified are Black/Huber and Garriques/ Pascual, the other two spots are still up for grabs between Peschke/Stubbs, Sugiyama/Wozniacki, and the Ukrainian Bondarenko sisters.
The tournament will be televised throughout Europe and the USA, and as a spokesperson for Sony Ericsson said, â€œThis event is the culmination of a year’s commitment to the support of Women’s tennis by the company. We have been successful in attracting a wider audience, a more informed audience, and we have shown that tennis played at a high level of expertise is entertaining for fans and supporters of all ages and from all walks of life.â€
For each of the players participating in this one-of-a-kind event it has a significant but diverse importance. For Jelena Jankovic it is the opportunity to prove to herself and to the world that she deserves to be the holder of the Number One ranking. For Serena a win would mean that she has the satisfaction of knowing that she is the best player, and only fails to be ranked as Number One because she plays too few tournaments. For Ana Ivanovic it is the last chance of 2008 to redeem herself, and to be ready for 2009. For Venus it would solidify her position as a top ten contender, and probably postpone any talk about retirement. Who will win, and who will move on to 2009 ready for the season’s first Grand Slam event in Australia, will capture the attention of us all. May the best woman win!
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