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(10/17/2009) Among the headliners at The Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions that gets underway next month at the Bali International Convention Center, Westin Resort, Nusa Dua, Bali will be a Wimbledon finalist and a young star who reached the semi-finals of the US Open.
Play scheduled November 4-8, 2009, will feature top tour players and next generation champions competing in an innovative 12-woman round-robin singles format. The top 10 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players who have all won at least one international series tournament over the past year and players not participating in singles at the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships will qualify for the event, along with two wild cards. The 12-woman event will feature four groups of three players in a round robin format, then a single-elimination semi-finals and final.
Marion Bartoli, who defeated then world number one Justine Henin to reach the 2007 Wimbledon final, has joined The Road to Bali by winning the Monterrey Open in March. That title came after she fell just short of claiming the Brisbane International in January by reaching the final, before falling to Victoria Azarenka.
As well as her success at those two events, the 25-year old from France reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Jelena Jankovic. Later, she went on to reach the semi-finals in Charleston and Eastbourne. A second title of the year followed in August, when she defeated Jankovic again and then overcame Venus Williams in a tense three-set final in Stanford.
While Bartoli is an established champion, event organizers cite Yanina Wickmayer as a perfect representative of what the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions is all about - presenting some of the very best of the young, upcoming stars of tomorrow.
The 20-year old from Belgium has made a massive leap up the rankings this year after a poor start to the season. Just one win in her first eight WTA Tour and Fed Cup matches was followed by a spectacular run to the title in Estoril, and after that confidence booster more success followed in Birmingham where she reached the quarter-finals, and then s'Hertogenbosch where she finished as runner-up to defending champion Tamarine Tanasugarn. At the US Open in New York she swept her way to the semi-finals before falling to Caroline Wozniacki.
As the Bali tournament nears, there are two players in line to win a US$1,000,000 bonus available to any player that can win three International Series events and the Tournament of Champions.
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez secured her shot at the bonus prize by winning Bogota in February and adding the Bastad title in July. She has just three more events this season to claim a third title and become eligible for the $1,000,000 bonus to be played in Osaka, Linz and Luxembourg.
Among other players expected to compete in Bali are Anabel Medina Garrigues, who won the Fes Tournament in Morocco, and Melinda Czink, who recently claimed the title in Quebec City.
The race for the remaining places in the draw, which will feature 10 international series winners based on their ranking, plus two wild cards, is heating up as the season approaches its climax. No fewer than eight players are in line for what could be the last four places in the draw, with just 15 places separating them in the rankings.
Possible qualifiers include Strasbourg champion Aravane Rezai, Budapest winner Agnes Szavay, Istanbul title-holder Vera Dushevina, Birmingham winner Magdalena Rybarikova and Austrian left-hander Sybille Bammer, who won in Prague.
"It will be wonderful to welcome Marion Bartoli back to Bali, after she reached the final three years ago before losing to an in-form Svetlana Kuznetsova," said tournament director Kevin Livesey. At the same time we look forward to welcoming new friends, players who have shown by their results this year that they are destined to do great things in the future.
"The next few weeks will be very exciting as so many players jostle to take part in what is certain to be an exciting week of tennis in a spectacular location."
International Series Champions to Date
• Marion Bartoli - champion in Monterrey, ranked 14
• Anabel Medina Garrigues - champion in Fes, ranked 21
• Yanina Wickmayer - champion in Estoril, ranked 23
• Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez - champion in Bogota and Bastad, ranked 37
• Melinda Czink - champion in Quebec City, ranked 38
• Aravane Rezai - champion in Strasbourg, ranked 44
• Agnes Szavay - champion in Budapest, ranked 45
• Vera Dushevina - champion in Istanbul, ranked 47
• Magdalena Rybarikova - champion in Birmingham, ranked 49
• Sybille Bammer - champion in Prague, ranked 50
• Petra Kvitova - champion in Hobart, ranked 55
• Andrea Petkovic - champion in Bad Gastein, ranked 58
• Roberta Vinci - champion in Barcelona, ranked 59
• Kimiko Date Krumm - champion in Seoul, ranked 100
• Tamarine Tanasugarn - champion in s'Hertogenbosch, ranked 104