SOFIA, Bulgaria - The Bulgarian Tennis Federation has announced that Qatar Airways will be the title sponsor for the Tournament of Champions, to be held in Sofia from October 30 to November 4. Under the terms of the one year deal, the event will be known as the Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia.
"We are thrilled that Qatar Airways has signed up as title sponsor of the Tournament of Champions," commented WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster. "Qatar Airways is a truly world class airline with a wonderful history of support for professional tennis, including the Qatar Ladies Open, our WTA Premier event in Doha. I congratulate the Bulgarian Tennis Federation for securing such a premium partner for the first staging of this event in Sofia."
The eight player field in Sofia includes two wildcard entrants, and they will be Bulgaria's own Tsvetana Pironkova, who was announced earlier in the year, and Russia's Maria Kirilenko, who was announced earlier in the week.
Not only is Pironkova Bulgaria's No.1 player by far, she has also made major history for her country - at Wimbledon two years ago she became the first player representing Bulgaria, male or female, to reach a Grand Slam semifinal (and she made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon again a year later).
"I am very proud to have this chance to play at such a prestigious event in front of my home fans," Pironkova said. "This is why I play tennis - to compete and give my best on the big stages. I am also looking forward to welcoming some of my WTA colleagues and friends to Bulgaria. I'm sure we'll put on a great show!"
Kirilenko has had a career year, reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the semifinals of the Olympics and, after reaching the final of New Haven, setting a career-high ranking of No.12. She is also one half of one of the best doubles teams in the world alongside countrywoman Nadia Petrova.
"I am really looking forward to playing at the Tournament of Champions in its first year in Sofia, and seeing my fans there," Kirilenko said. "It will be my first visit but I've heard great things about the city. I'd like to thank BTF President Stefan Tzvetkov for this opportunity - it will be a great way to end the season."
Offering total prize money of $750,000, the Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia is the final event on the 2012 WTA calendar. The tournament brings together the six highest-ranked winners of International series events through the year (not including those who qualify for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul), plus two wildcards, initially split into two groups for a round robin competition feeding into the semifinals and final. The complete starting line-up will not be announced until after the final International tournament of the year in Luxembourg. Sofia is set to host the event from 2012 to 2014.