The season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul has its first couple of qualifiers, and they are two ladies are familiar with one another on big stages this year.
|U.S. Open Day 12|
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and No. 3 Maria Sharapova (about to be No. 2) have qualified to be two of the eight players in the final tournament of the year when the year's best duke it out one last time. Sharapova and Azarenka met late in two Grand Slams, including meeting Friday in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.
The doubles team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, who will play for the U.S. Open title together this weekend, were the first team to qualify for the championship.
"We are delighted that Victoria, Maria, Sara and Roberta have qualified for the second staging of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul, which launched with such great success last year in Turkey,"Ayda Uluc, Turkish Tennis Federation President, said in the WTA release. "We are planning to raise the bar even higher at this year's event and look forward to showcasing the talents of these extraordinary players to fans in Istanbul and around the world."
It's been a remarkable year for Azarenka, who has been No. 1 in the rankings for the majority of the year. She won her first major by taking the Australian Open and the No. 1 ranking came with it. The title Down Under was part of an amazing 26-match winning streak to start the year. She would love to finish the year by starting another streak to carry into 2013.
Sharapova has returned to where she once was in the world standings after undergoing shoulder surgery a few years ago. In 2012 she completed the career Grand Slam by winning the French Open, giving her exactly one championship at each of the Slam events thus far.
The WTA Championships will take begin Oct. 23 in Istanbul on the indoor hard courts in Turkey. Petra Kvitova won the final last year by beating Azarenka in the final.