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(2/14/2009) The Road To Bali has begun, and two winners have staked their claim to qualify for the prestigious end-of-season Commonwealth Bank Tennis Tournament of Champions, set to take place in Bali, Indonesia November 8-14, 2009.
Olympic champion Elena Dementieva recently defeated fellow Russian Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-1 to lift the title in the JSB Classic held in Auckland January 5th, and Victoria Azarenka from Belarus overcame Marion Bartoli of France 6-3 6-1 in Brisbane at the Brisbane International on January 4th to earn her first career title.
"The way I was thinking on court was very different from before," said Azarenka, who had lost her previous four finals. "I was playing every point, no matter what happened. I wasn't thinking about the fact that I was playing in a final. I was thinking it was a regular match, regular points. There weren't any nerves. I think that helped me today. I don't really believe I've won yet. Everybody says the third time is the charm, but for me it's the fifth one - I'm just glad I finally got it!"
Dementieva appreciated the great support she received, and she was especially thrilled to have earned her victory without the usual guiding hand of her coach and mother.
"The crowd's support was awesome, not just today but all week," Dementieva said. "It was a pleasure to come here and play this tournament. We all really felt at home here, it was very nice. And for the first time my mom isn't here with me, so I'm especially happy to take this trophy back home for her."
The Road to Bali
The Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions will debut at the Bali International Convention Centre at the Westin Resort November 4-8, 2009 . The new tournament has adopted as its theme the "Road to Bali." This theme will represent the champions drawn from international tournaments throughout the year, tying together the international series events throughout the year.
Featuring top Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players and next generation champions competing in an innovative, 12-woman round-robin singles format (divided into four groups of three players), this tournament will offer both US$600,000 in prize money and an opportunity to earn US$1 million in bonus prizes.
The highest-ranked 10 players who have captured at least one international tournament during the year and who are not participating in singles at the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha 2009 will qualify for the event, along with two wildcards. A player who wins three International series tournaments and the season-ending Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions will take home the additional $1-million bonus on top of her prize money.
The Road to Bali Schedule
Below is the "Road to Bali" - 29 International series tournaments, each offering $220,000 prize money, leading up to the season-ending finale, the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali.
January 5 - Brisbane International, Brisbane, Australia (Won by Victoria Azarenka)
January 5 - ASB Classic, Auckland, New Zealand (won by Elena Dementieva)
January 11 - Moorila Hobart International, Hobart, Australia (Won by Petra Kvitova)
February 9 - PTT Pattaya Women's Open, Pattaya, Thailand
February 15 - Regions Morgan Keegan Championship & the Cellular South Cup, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.
February 16 - Copa Colsanitas, Bogota, Columbia
February 23 - Abierto Mexicano TELCEL presentado poor HBC, Acapulco, Mexico
March 2 - Monterrey Open, Monterrey, Mexico
April 6 - MPS Group Championships, Ponte Verde Beach, Florida
April 13 - Barcelona Ladies Open, Barcelona, Spain
April 27 - Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Mervem, Fes, Morroco
May 4 - Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal
May 18 - Internationaux de Strassbourg, Strassbourg, France
June 8 - AEGON Classic, Brimingham, Great Britain
June 15 - Ordina Open, 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
July 6 - Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary
July 6 - Swedish Open Women, Bastad, Sweden
July 13 - Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palmero, Italy
July 13 - ECM Praque Open, Prague, Czech Republic
July 20 - Banka Koper Slovena Open, Portoroz, Slovakia
July 20 - Warsaw Open, Warsaw, Poland
July 27 - Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, Turkey
September 14 - Gangzhou International Womens Open, Guangzhou, China
September 14 - Bell Challenge, Quebec City, Canada
September 21 - Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 12 - Generali Ladies Linz, Linz, Austria
October 12 - Japan Women's Open Tennis, Osaka, Japan
October 19 - BGL- BNP Paribas Open Luxembourg, Luxembourg
November 8 - Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions, Bali, Indonesia