A scene from the 2008 WTA Championships. The ladies are still racing to Doha this year before the tourney heads to Istanbul for a three-year stint in 2011. (Photo by elatawiec62 via flickr.)
The respective races are heating up to the tours’ year-end championships, with the women vying for a spot in Doha while the men aim for London. The inactive Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams joined the over-playing Vera Zvonareva and Caroline Wozniacki as the four players who have qualified for the year’s final tournament.
On the men’s side of things, Rafael Nadal sealed the year-end deal way back in May, but continues to play a full hardcourt schedule this fall. Roger Federer, the only other player to win a Slam this year, has also qualified. Nipping to join the two-some are Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Tomas Berdych, Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco.
David Ferrer, Mikhail Youzhny, Jurgen Melzer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are all floating outside the Top 8, with Ferrer having a great shot at displacing Roddick or Verdasco with a good showing over the next few weeks.
All contenders are in action this week with the exception of father Federer. Nadal, Roddick, Melzer and Tsonga spending their time in Tokyo, while Djokovic, Murray, Soderling, Berdych, Verdasco, Ferrer and Youzhny are hitting the courts in Beijing alongside the ladies. Tsonga, who has a semifinal showing at the Australian and a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon on his 2010 resume, is playing for the first time since making aforementioned run at the All England Club.
While Samantha Stosur, Venus Williams, Francesca Schiavone and Jelena Jankovic fill out the rest of the WTA line-up on the current Race to the Championships rankings, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na and Elena Dementieva are all knocking on the door. Dementieva has played in 10 of the last 11 tour championships, winning just 6 of 24 matches.
So we’re wondering: who do you think the Top 8 on each tour will be? Can one of the outsiders slip in during the final weeks? Or will the tours’ top players hold strong to their positions?