Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone today became the fifth and sixth players to qualify for the season-ending WTA Championships, to be held at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 26-31. Both players have qualified in singles for the first time in their careers, having previously qualified and competed at the WTA Championships in doubles.
Stosur and Schiavone are headed to Doha along with Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters, and the doubles teams of Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta and Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebotnik, who qualified earlier. The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete for the coveted WTA Championships title and a share of the $4.5 million in prize money.
“I’m thrilled,” said Stosur, ranked No. 8. “I’ve been there a few times for doubles, so to qualify in singles is very exciting. It’s always been a goal of mine to achieve this. It’s a privilege for me to compete against the best in the world.”
“I’m excited and very emotional as this is a very special moment and to be able to share it with my team means so much to me,” said No. 6 Schiavone. “I want to live in this moment because it is one of the best in my life. Being able to go to Doha means that you are one of the best players in the world and that is a great feeling.”
Stosur’s qualification comes on the heels of a career season, highlighted by numerous firsts. In ‘10, she reached her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, the first Australian woman to do so since Wendy Turnbull‘s trip to the ‘80 final of the Aussie Open. Stosur’s impressive record on clay started with a win in Charleston — her second tournament title — and continued through Stuttgart, where she lost to Justine Henin in the final. In addition to reaching the RG final, Stosur’s stellar Slam showing continued at the U.S. Open, where she reached the quarters. Additionally, she advanced to the semis in Indian Wells, Eastbourne and Stanford, becoming the third player to achieve 40 wins this year. Stosur achieved a career-high ranking of No. 5 in July, becoming the highest ranked Australian woman since Turnbull in ‘85.
Schiavone won her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, where she defeated Stosur and became the first Italian woman to win a major title, subsequently breaking into the top 10. Schiavone also won the title at the Barcelona Ladies Open, and reached semis in Auckland and Tokyo. She also matched her best performance at the U.S. Open, reaching the quarters, and at the Aussie Open, advancing to the fourth round, losing to Venus Williams on both occasions. Schiavone helped Italy win the coveted title in both ‘06 and ’09, and will lead the team in the final against the U.S. in November.