Sam Stosur

Sam in race to WTA Championships

After her exciting recent run to the US Open quarterfinals, Sam Stosur’s sights have now turned to the prestigious season-ending WTA Championships, which will conclude the women’s tennis season in Istanbul in late October.

But along with several other players vying for a place in the elite eight-player field, Stosur’s participation at the championships has not yet been confirmed.

Stosur currently sits at ninth in the Race to the WTA Championships, with the top eight players to qualify for the tournament at Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Arena. And she has a little bit of work to do to catch the players above her and ensure she books her ticket to Turkey.

While Stosur has posted erratic results throughout the season, several of the sport’s top women have enjoyed remarkable consistency, earning them plenty of points and putting them in a good position to qualify for the event. Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams – the trio that scooped the year’s major titles and the medals in the Olympic singles competition – have already done so.

Five places in the tournament are yet to be determined, and the results throughout the next month’s Asian swing will go some way to shaping the field.

Stosur is scheduled to play in Tokyo, Beijing and Osaka, and says she may make the trip to Moscow to contest the Kremlin Cup should she still require points to qualify for Istanbul. But of course this is not a given – the women ahead of the Australian in the race will be highly motivated to perform well and cement their top-eight standings.

A semifinalist at the WTA Championships in both 2010 and 2011, Stosur will be motivated herself to return to the event, giving her both a chance to defend her 2011 points as well as improve on last year’s result in which she fell to Petra Kvitova at the penultimate stage in three tense sets.

These factors combine to create an exciting few months ahead on the tennis calendar during a period which is sometimes considered dead time on the tour – the Grand Slams are over, the players are weary, and the Northern Hemisphere becomes more wintry by the day.

By contrast, the race to Istanbul is only heating up.

Race projections

Looking at the WTA Race to the Championships, Stosur is currently 581 points behind the eighth-placed Li Na, a gap closed from around 900 points thanks to the Australian’s quarterfinal finish in New York (Li fell in the third round).

There are plenty of points on offer in Tokyo and Beijing, which offer winners 900 and 1000 points respectively. The Queenslander could leapfrog Li in the race in one fell swoop in Tokyo should she win the title, provided the Chinese player does not progress beyond the quarterfinals. If that failed, she could do so in Beijing the next week should a similar scenario play out. However, this will be an extremely tough ask – the draws in both Tokyo and Beijing are stacked with top 10 talent, making Stosur’s potential path to the title hardly a walk in the park.

Stosur can still eat away at Li’s lead in the points tally should she progress a few rounds deeper into each event than the 2011 French Open champion.

The Aussie needs to make her move at these two Premier Asian events, as her next tournament – in Osaka – will provide less potential gain. The winner of that event amasses just 280 points, a result she cannot rely on to surpass the Chinese player. Should she desperately be seeking points to qualify at the last minute, Moscow offers the winner 470 points given is status as a Premier tournament. At this stage, Li has not entered the Osaka or Moscow events.

Stosur is not in much danger of slipping lower in the race standings, but does have Marion Bartoli snapping at her heels. The Frenchwoman sits just over 200 points behind Stosur in the race heading into a time of the season during which she traditionally performs well. Bartoli is scheduled to play in Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow.

The Race to the WTA Championships (as of 17 September 2012)

1 Victoria Azarenka 8686
2 Maria Sharapova 8190
3 Serena Williams 7900
4 Agnieszka Radwanksa 6296
5 Petra Kvitova 5310
6 Angelique Kerber 5080
7 Sara Errani 4820
8 Li Na 4152
10 Marion Bartoli 3345
11 Caroline Wozniacki 2876

*those in bold have already qualified

  • Jim

    Hey Sam, just want to say I’m pulling for you to qualify for the YEC for a third year in a row. You’re a bit unlucky not to be better placed than you currently are, with a number of really crucial close matches this year that went against you. But that only means that your form is better than your ranking suggests, so I think you have a great chance of qualifying now. Good luck starting off your Asian campaign in Tokyo. The draw is quite tough, but I think you have a good chance of a deep run nonetheless. Have fun Sam!

  • Carolyn

    I checked the 2012 WTA rulebook, and according to that Sam’s points for last year’s WTA Championships won’t be counted for qualification into this year’s. Page 163 (165 in the pdf version) says, “The qualification method will count the previous 52 weeks of events, beginning the Monday of the week of the current Premier WTA Championships and dropping off the ranking points earned in the 2011 Premier WTA Championships and the 2011 International Tournament of Champions.”

  • Christian

    Good race, good health, good luck!

  • Mike B

    Well Errani is ahead of you now as I predicted she would be. However you are a much better player than her no doubt just look at head to heads. What you need to do is focus on being consistant I nean really consistant That is not getting beaten by players who are ranked much lower than you. Unless you can overcome this your WTA ranking will eventually start to slide again if not this season but next. I guesss no one is more frustrated (or perplexed) than your coach. I wish you (both) the best. Come on Sam its time to pull it all together FOCUS and show us how good you really are. Personally I have no doubt at all, but it is perplexing to see someone most of the other girls fear slide in the rankings. All the best I will pray you come good.

  • Editor’s note – thanks for this Caroline. The information we received varied slightly from the rulebook, indicating that Sam’s 2011 points were included in her points tally and that the top eight players in the rankings qualified, as opposed to the top eight in the race. We have corrected the story accordingly.

  • Mike B

    Mike B.
    So there are some big names, good. Go after them like you did with VA. But from the start. They are the ones you need to knock off. At least you can finish this season with some positive results. Practice, Practice and more Practice on serving, and backhand accuracy with power particularly. Do not fear the backhand polish it (well placed shots) and make it work for you like your forehand. You have the potential to be in at least the top 5 maybe higher if you can get it together. Get cracking now. All the best.

  • doncas

    To Sam Stosur ,
    You will make the last eight if you visualize yourself doing it and are not distracted.
    You are capable of beating all of the above players and you have enough time in the Asian tournaments and Moscow. I have been to Moscow myself a few times and it can be a really friendly place if you let it. I like the Russians – they make good friends as well as the Asian countries…
    (old Aussie in NZ)

  • Mike B

    Don is right no more to say. Used to have a boss from Russia, great guy. His surname was Koblinski. (hope spelling is ok) Never been there though. Huge country just look on map.

  • Mike B

    Sam you will play F Schiavione ITA. You know her well. Work to get on top early,stay there. None of this “roll the dice stuff” just power with well placed shots will get you through. If you hit a purple patch just keep calm and fight back like you did with VA who is No.1 and you matched shot for shot after a poor start. Go get those points you need for Istanbul.