LONDON, England - The WTA announced Wednesday that the inaugural Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia achieved new milestones for the season finale of the International series of events.
The 'Road to Sofia' comprised 29 tournaments on six continents, culminating in a six-day celebration of tennis in the Bulgarian capital from October 30 to November 4. Attendance at the final exceeded 7,500, with overall attendance for the week exceeding 30,000.
The field featured former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, former World No.3 Nadia Petrova, Roberta Vinci, Hsieh Su-Wei, Zheng Jie and Daniela Hantuchova. In addition, wildcards were awarded to Maria Kirilenko and Bulgaria's own Tsvetana Pironkova.
Wozniacki and Petrova, the Top 2 seeds, emerged from their respective round robin groups undefeated, with Petrova edging Vinci and Wozniacki defeating Pironkova in semifinal action. In Sunday's final, Petrova cruised to a 62 61 win for the 13th WTA singles title of her career.
"We are thrilled by the reception the Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions received in Sofia," said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman & CEO. "I experienced first-hand the excitement and interest in the event along with a world class facility and operation. With the support of great sponsors, led by Qatar Airways, committed organization by the Bulgarian Tennis Federation, and the support of the country's Ministry of Sports and the City of Sofia, this tournament was a terrific success for the WTA and the sport of tennis."
The tournament attracted 90 accredited media to Sofia, from as far away as China, and matches were broadcast to 25 countries. Host broadcaster BNT reported average daily viewership of 2.76 million households, in a country with a population of 7.4 million.
"Arena Armeec is an impressive new facility and on the weekend it's been packed, so it was really exciting to play here," Petrova said. "It helped, I think, that Tsvetana was part of the tournament, which raised awareness and will help get people involved in tennis.
"Each player was given her own locker room and personalized car and driver - we've been treated so well! And for me, winning the doubles with Maria in Istanbul and coming here to win the singles - I couldn't ask for a better end to the season. It's been perfect."
Players participated in a variety of off-court activities throughout the week. Hantuchova appeared live on Let Them Speak, a Sunday prime time chat show with an audience of 2 million. Wozniacki visited Sony partner Mtel in downtown Sofia. Pironkova met children supported by the Berbatov Foundation, a charity established by UK-based Bulgarian football star Dimitar Berbatov to foster young talent in a variety of endeavors. And tournament alternates Sofia Arvidsson and Alizé Cornet enjoyed a rehearsal by the Philip Koutev Folkore Ensemble, the nation's pre-eminent troupe of Bulgarian folk dancers, singers and musicians.
Petrova joins Aravane Rezai (2009) and Ana Ivanovic (2010-11) on the honor roll of the Tournament of Champions, which was launched in Bali, Indonesia, in 2009 and enjoyed three successful years there. Sofia is set to host the event for another two years.