ISTANBUL, Turkey - By virtue of winning her quarterfinal match at the China Open on Friday afternoon, China's Li Na has become the eighth and final qualifier for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012.
For the first time in the 42-year history of the WTA Championships, every player in the field is representing a different country: Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), Maria Sharapova (Russia), Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland), Serena Williams (United States), Angelique Kerber (Germany), Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic), Sara Errani (Italy) and last but not least Li Na (China).
"I would like to congratulate Li Na on qualifying for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships for the second successive year, which is an amazing accomplishment," WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster said of the announcement. "She is one of the WTA's most popular players and will proudly represent her country, as she continues to inspire a generation of players in China. I am also thrilled that for the first time in the history of our Championships, the singles field will feature players from all different countries, which underscores the incredible global reach of our sport and athletes."
Li's season has been highlighted by her sixth WTA title at the Premier-level event in Cincinnati and three more finals, all at Premier-level events as well, at Sydney, Rome and Montréal (losing to Azarenka, Sharapova and Kvitova, respectively). She clinched the final berth in Istanbul by beating Radwanska in the quarterfinals of another Premier-level tournament in Beijing.
"In the last two years I have played the best tennis of my career and I am excited to return to the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships again this year," Li commented after her 64 62 win over Radwanska in the Chinese capital.
With three of the four doubles teams locked in - Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka - the line-up for the season finale is almost complete. Two teams are battling it out for the last doubles spot, Russians Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova and Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.