ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA (October 20, 2012) – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced on Saturday that Russians Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova have claimed the final doubles place at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, which will be staged at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. This final qualification rounds out an exceptional player field for the WTA’s year-end finale, to be held from October 23-28 and featuring the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams, competing for the coveted title and a share of $4.9 million in prize money.
Earlier today in the semifinal at the Kremlin Cup (Moscow), Kirilenko and Petrova defeated the American team of Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears to secure the last doubles place. The Russian duo will join the Italian team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, the Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka and the defending champions, Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond to complete the doubles draw.
“Congratulations to Maria and Nadia on qualifying for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO. “These two have had an amazing 2012, winning the title in Miami, reaching the Roland Garros final and earning the bronze medal at the Olympics in London. We are excited for them to join the field in Istanbul.”
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to qualify for Istanbul by winning this important match at the Kremlin Cup,” said Kirilenko. “Nadia has been to the Championships before and even won the doubles title, but for me it will be the first time and I’m really looking forward to the experience. We’ve passed through a lot of situations this year to achieve this goal, and felt a lot of different emotions. Now we feel very strong.”
“I think the Championships add excitement for the players – motivation to win tournaments and reach the highest ranking, for a chance to play this event,” said Petrova. “I think it’s great for the public as well to see the biggest stars and those that have accomplished the most through the year. Last year I saw some of the matches on TV and was impressed by the size of the crowds, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve been to Istanbul before for a smaller tournament and I was fascinated by the city. Ever since then I’ve been very eager to go back!”
The Russian duo teamed up on a regular basis in 2012 winning their biggest title to date at the Sony Open Tennis (Miami). In addition, they reached the finals at Roland Garros, the UNICEF Open (‘s-Hertogenbosch) and will be competing in their fourth doubles final of the year in Moscow on Sunday. They also captured bronze medal at the Olympics. Throughout their career Kirilenko and Petrova have played periodically together as far back as 2008, winning their first two events they played together: the 2008 Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati) and 2009 Kremlin Cup (Moscow).
With 31 career doubles titles between them (Petrova with 20, Kirilenko with 11), both are also successful singles players, with Petrova winning 12 titles and reaching a high of No.3 in the world, and Kirilenko collecting 5 titles and a career-high of No.12. Petrova is making her fifth appearance at the Championships, having previously competed in singles three times and doubles once, while Kirilenko is making her debut at the event.
The doubles event features 4 teams in a single elimination draw, which will be held at Sinan Erdem Arena on Thursday, October 25, with top-seed being Errani/Vinci and No.2 seed being Hlavackova/Hradecka.
This year’s singles field includes five Grand Slam champions and the eight qualifiers have won 21 of the 26 biggest events of the year including the Grand Slams, Olympics and WTA Premier-level events (listed in order of seeds): Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), Maria Sharapova (Russia), Serena Williams (United States), Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland), Angelique Kerber (Germany), Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic), Errani (Italy) and Li Na (China). Additionally, Samantha Stosur (Australia) and Marion Bartoli (France) will be the first and second alternates, respectively.
The singles draw ceremony will be held on Sunday, October 21, at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski. The players will be selected into two groups – Red and White – with round robin matches to begin on Tuesday, October 23.
“The Turkish Tennis Federation is very proud to once again host the world’s best tennis players in Istanbul for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships” said Ayda Uluc, President of the Turkish Tennis Federation. “We would like to thank our partners in this event, the Ministry of Youth and Sport and TEB BNP Paribas, for their valuable support. We are looking forward to a week of thrilling tennis from these exceptional players.”
“We will once again welcome the world’s best tennis players to the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships – Istanbul, which was brought to our country by the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the Turkish Tennis Federation,” said Varol Civil, TEB CEO. “We are proud to support this great event as its ‘title sponsor’. It is truly exciting to count down to the Championships where the best women’s tennis players will showcase their talents to millions of people. Reaching a record number of 34 million people last year, our country will once again be on the top of the global agenda through the exciting tennis at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships – Istanbul.”
Tickets for the 2012 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships–Istanbul, as well as info about the event, are available for purchase through Biletix – either online at www.biletix.com or at Biletix ticket counters in Turkey.