SOFIA, BULGARIA (October 24, 2012) – Four of the world’s Top 16 ranked women, including former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki and former world No.3 Nadia Petrova will be among the eight-player field competing at the $750,000 Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia, to be staged in Bulgaria’s capital city at the Arena Armeec from October 30–November 4, 2012. This marks the first year that Sofia will host the annual season-ending championships for the WTA’s International tournaments, after three successful years in Bali.
Wozniacki and Petrova will be the top two seeds and will be joined by Roberta Vinci, Hsieh Su-Wei, Zheng Jie and Daniela Hantuchova as the six highest-ranked International Series tournament winners eligible to compete at the Tournament of Champions. Russia’s Maria Kirilenko and Bulgarian star Tsvetana Pironkova each received wildcards into the field, which this year returns to a round robin format. The players will be split into two groups of four, with each group’s top two players advancing to the semifinals.
“I would like to congratulate this prestigious group of players on their success in 2012 as they eagerly await the start of the Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO. “This is a very strong field, with each player having a tremendous amount of success. Amongst the group, there are nine WTA singles titles earned this year and tennis fans in Sofia are in for a week of incredible women’s tennis.”
“We are delighted to have such a strong player field for the first staging of the Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia,” said Stefan Tzvetkov, President of the Bulgarian Tennis Federation and the event’s Tournament Director. “We look forward to welcoming these stars of women’s tennis to Bulgaria, where everyone is looking forward to an exciting event.”
Tournament of Champions Sofia – 2012 Participants:
Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark, No.11
Caroline Wozniacki reached three WTA finals in 2012, winning titles at the KDB Korean Open in Seoul, putting her in contention for Sofia, and just last week at the Premier level Kremlin Cup in Moscow – the 20th WTA singles title of her career. Among other highlights, Wozniacki posted her first ever win over Serena Williams en route to the semifinals at the Sony Open Tennis in Miami. The 22 year old ranks fourth among active players for singles titles, finished as runner-up at the 2009 US Open, and has spent 67 weeks at No.1 on the rankings, ending both the 2010 and 2011 seasons in the top spot. Wozniacki is making her Tournament of Champions debut.
Nadia Petrova, Russia, No.13
Former world No.3 Nadia Petrova, 30, has enjoyed a resurgence in 2012. In June she won the title at the UNICEF Open (‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands), an International grass court event, and in October she defeated three Top 10 players to capture the biggest singles title of her career at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, taking her tally to 12 singles titles. Across her career, Petrova has reached at least the quarterfinals at all four Grand Slam events, including two semis at Roland Garros. In doubles this year she has enjoyed much success with Kirilenko, winning at Miami, reaching the final at Roland Garros and claiming the Olympic bronze medal. As a result of their 2012 doubles success, the team qualified for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul. Petrova is making her second appearance at the Tournament of Champions, having reached the semis in Bali last year.
Maria Kirilenko, Russia, No.15
In addition to her standout doubles results with Petrova, 25-year-old Maria Kirilenko has enjoyed a career season in singles in 2012. The owner of five WTA singles titles, she was runner-up at Pattaya City in February (l. Hantuchova) and at New Haven (l. Kvitova) in August, after which she moved to new career high ranking of No.12. A semifinalist in singles at the Olympics (l. Azarenka in bronze medal play-off), Kirilenko also reached her second Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon. Having received a wildcard, she is making her Tournament of Champions debut.
Roberta Vinci, Italy, No.16
After a 2011 season that saw her break into the Top 20 for the first time, Vinci has done even better in 2012, cracking the Top 15 for the first time. During a nine-match winning streak this summer, she won her seventh career WTA singles title at the Texas Tennis Open (Dallas) and reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open. She has also been part of the world’s top doubles team this year, alongside fellow Italian and best friend Sara Errani winning eight titles, including two Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and the US Open. Currently the world No.1 ranked doubles player, the 29-year-old played the Tournament of Champions in Bali last year, falling to eventual champion Ana Ivanovic in the first round.
Hsieh Su-Wei, Chinese Taipei, No.25
Earlier in her career Hsieh Su-Wei was best known for her doubles results, as she worked her way to nine titles and climbed into the Top 10. In 2012 the 26-year-old has made a breakthrough in singles, winning International titles at the BMW Malaysian Open (Kuala Lumpur) and Guangzhou International Women’s Open as well as the semifinals at the PTT Pattaya Open in Thailand, where she fell to eventual champion Hantuchova. Boosted further by strong results on the ITF Circuit, Hsieh arrives in Sofia on a new career high ranking of No.25 after finishing 2011 at No.172. She is making her Tournament of Champions debut.
Zheng Jie, China, No.29
A trailblazer for Chinese tennis, Zheng Jie began the 2012 season strongly with a trophy run at the ASB Classic (Auckland), her fourth WTA singles title. This year she also reached the last 16 at the Australian Open and the semifinals on grass at the AEGON Classic (Birmingham). Indeed, it was on the lawns of Wimbledon in 2008 that Zheng became China’s first Grand Slam semifinalist, a feat she matched by reaching the final four at the 2010 Australian Open. In 2006, the doubles team of Zheng and Yan Zi captured China’s first Grand Slam titles of any kind, at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Now 29 years old, the former world No.15 Zheng is making her debut at the Tournament of Champions.
Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, No.32
Former world No.5 Daniela Hantuchova began the 2012 season strongly, reaching a Premier final at the Brisbane International, the quarterfinals at the Apia International Sydney and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and successfully defending her crown at the PTT Pattaya Open – the fifth WTA singles title of her career. A foot injury interrupted the 29-year-old’s season, but she arrives in Sofia after a semifinal run at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open. A two-time champion of the BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells) and one of just six women all-time to complete a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles, Hantuchova is playing the Tournament of Champions for the third time, after two appearances in Bali.
Tsvetana Pironkova, Bulgaria, No.44
Tsvetana Pironkova, who became the first Bulgarian to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2010, and made the quarters at the All England Club in 2011, will be bidding for her first WTA title in Sofia. This year the 25-year-old has consolidated her place in the Top 50 by reaching three quarterfinals, also posting a strong run to the round of 16 at the US Open – her best result at a Grand Slam away from Wimbledon. Her hometown is Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson and Alizé Cornet of France will travel to Sofia as alternates.