MOSCOW, Russia - Though the elite eight is known for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012, there's another battle brewing that has major implications for the WTA finale - and it's going on in Moscow.
Every year there are two alternates at the WTA Championships - this year they are Samantha Stosur and Marion Bartoli - but it's the first alternate who steps in first if one of the players in the elite eight is unable to take the court.
So, Stosur and Bartoli's results at this week's Kremlin Cup in Moscow are crucial. Stosur, No.9 in the race, has a lead in ranking points over Bartoli, who is No.10 in the race; so Bartoli has to make up ground to overtake Stosur:
~ Bartoli NEEDS to at least reach the final
~ Bartoli can become first alternate by reaching the final...
ONLY if Stosur loses before the semifinals
~ Bartoli can become first alternate by winning the title...
ONLY if Stosur loses before the final
At the Kremlin Cup's All-Access Hour on Monday afternoon, both Stosur and Bartoli were asked by reporters about the race for No.9 in the, well, race.
"Finishing No.9 means we'll be more likely to get a match in Istanbul," Stosur said. "It's certainly going to be interesting to see what happens this week, but we can't control anything but our own matches, so we have to stay focused.
"Of course even for whoever gets No.9, playing a match in Istanbul means someone will have to get injured, so we just have to go there and prepare to play, and if we get one it's a bonus. But I hope I do get a match there."
"My main goal in Moscow this week is to play well and become the first alternate," Bartoli said. "If I can do well and Sam doesn't do that well, I have a chance to jump to No.9. But even if it doesn't happen, being the second alternate and finishing in the Top 10 is a really great achievement for me.
"I have experience being an alternate at the WTA Championships. In Madrid I was an alternate and played two matches; last year I was an alternate again in Istanbul and played very well against Vika Azarenka and won the match.
"No matter what happens, being in Istanbul will be great. It's a reward. You feel like you belong to something special. I look forward to playing there."
On another note, Stosur and Bartoli could be two of the most dangerous alternates in recent memory at the WTA Championships, both having wins over six of the eight players in the elite eight (the only two players Stosur has never beaten are Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova, while the only two Bartoli has never beaten are Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska).