MOSCOW, Russia - Coming into the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, two questions remained about next week's TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012: what will be the order of the alternates, and who will be the last team to qualify? One was answered on Wednesday, the other lives on.
Samantha Stosur and Marion Bartoli were locked in as the alternates, but who would be first and second was undetermined - but Bartoli needed to at least reach the final this week to be first, and the No.2-seeded Frenchwoman couldn't win her first match in Moscow, going quietly to Sofia Arvidsson, 63 60.
"I felt like my whole body couldn't do what my mind was telling it to do today," Bartoli said. "The surface here is extremely slow, which doesn't suit my game very well, but Sofia played very well and made me feel very uncomfortable."
Still, Bartoli is happy to be headed to Istanbul as second alternate, even with the chance she may not play a match. "As I've said before, it's very rewarding for me to finish in Istanbul, and to be inside the Top 10 is a really good thing."
Arvidsson's win over the World No.10 was the sixth Top 10 win of her career, having beaten Bartoli once before and Anna Chakvetadze, Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova once each, as well.
"Marion is a great competitor, a Top 10 player, and I knew I had to be at my best," Arvidsson said. "My strategy was to focus on how I wanted to play and move her around the court. And I love to play indoors - I grew up in Sweden, so the conditions in Moscow really suit me. I'm very happy to win this match."
Bartoli wasn't alone - No.8 seed Lucie Safarova lost to Klara Zakopalova, 64 64, though she could easily have won the second set - serving 4-1 she missed three chances to go up 5-1, then lost 19 of the last 21 points of the match.
"The key was in the second set when I was 4-1 down," Zakopalova said. "I started playing more aggressively and came back, and I think she was getting a little bit nervous and missing more. So that was the key to winning today.
"I actually got injured in Tokyo and didn't play for three weeks, so I'm motivated and not tired at all. I'm just enjoying my last tournament of the year!"
And on playing a fellow Czech? "To be honest I hate it!" she said. "We are very good friends so it's tough. But we're used to it, we've played like eight times."
No.3 seed Caroline Wozniacki and No.5 seed Dominika Cibulkova moved through in straight sets in the other two second round matches of the day, and in the last two first round matches of the week, No.7 seed Maria Kirilenko and Russian qualifier Valeria Solovieva advanced. Kirilenko rallied from 5-3 down in the first set - and saved set point at 5-4 - to beat Elena Vesnina, 75 61.
The race for the last spot in the doubles field in Istanbul lives on, as Russians Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova and Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears won their matches Wednesday. Both came close to elimination, but while the Russians only had to rally from 6-4 down in the match tie-break of their match, the Americans had to come back from triple match point down in theirs, rallying from 9-6 down in the match tie-break to beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke, who were fresh off a title run in Linz, 63 16 119.
Kops-Jones and Spears need to win their quarterfinal match on Thursday, and then they would play Petrova and Kirilenko in the semifinals. The winner of that match will be the fourth and final team in the Istanbul doubles field.