ISTANBUL, Turkey - A few weeks ago co-World No.1s Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci became the first team to qualify for the doubles event at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul. And today, all in one shot, the other three teams have all been announced as qualifiers - Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, and Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai.
The Top 8 singles players and Top 4 doubles teams will compete in Istanbul for a record-setting $6 million prize money purse and the most prestigious title on the WTA calendar after the Grand Slams.
"Each of these teams had magnificent seasons and it is exciting to see their hard work has earned them a spot in the year-end TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships," WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster said of the news. "The line-up promises to provide an exciting competition with Grand Slam champions, former No.1s and the best WTA doubles players competing at our crown jewel event."
The doubles draw ceremony at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul will be held on Thursday, October 24, with semifinals on Saturday, October 26, and the final on Sunday, October 27.
Petrova and Srebotnik had played together sporadically beforehand but at the beginning of 2013 decided to play the whole year together, winning three WTA doubles titles (Sydney, Miami and Eastbourne) and reaching another three finals (Doha, Dubai and Indian Wells). Both have qualified for this event before with other partners - this is Petrova's third time here (she won the title both previous times, with Meghann Shaughnessy in 2004 and Maria Kirilenko in 2012) while Srebotnik is here for the seventh time (twice before with Tina Krizan, twice with Ai Sugiyama, twice with Kveta Peschke).
Makarova and Vesnina really picked up steam together this time last year, winning Premier-level titles at Beijing and Moscow, and this year they took their partnership to new heights, winning another two titles - Indian Wells and their first Grand Slam doubles title at Roland Garros (becoming just the second all-Russian pairing to win a Grand Slam doubles title). Both are making their debut at this event.
Hsieh and Peng have won more WTA doubles titles this year than both of the other two teams that were announced today, with four - Rome, their first Grand Slam doubles title at Wimbledon (where Hsieh became the first player from Chinese Taipei to win a Grand Slam title of any kind), Cincinnati and Guangzhou. Perhaps even more impressive is the pair is a perfect 8-0 in WTA doubles finals together.
Following two successful, record-breaking editions, Istanbul hosts the WTA Championships for the third and final year in 2013. In 2012, the tournament attracted more than 73,000 fans during six days of competition, the highest attendance at the year-end event since 2000. Broadcast coverage reached 167 countries, and the overall hours produced increased 25 percent, including live matches, match replays and highlights. Nearly 42 million fans followed the on-court and behind-the-scenes action via WTA social media and digital platforms, and it was a record-setting week for the official WTA website that week, with approximately 4.8 million page impressions and nearly 500,000 unique visitors.