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Monday, November 07, 2005

WTA Tour Championships get underway on Tuesday

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - The season-ending $3 million WTA Tour Championships will get underway with a trio of round-robin matches Tuesday in Los Angeles, as Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova will all take to the court at the Staples Center.

Maria Sharapova

The coveted year-end world No. 1 ranking is on the line this week, as the American Davenport and Belgian Clijsters will decide who finishes atop the ledger. Both players will be in action on opening night, as the U.S. Open champion Clijsters will encounter U.S. and French Open runner-up Mary Pierce in the event-opening bout, while the Wimbledon and Australian Open runner-up Davenport will face Russian Nadia Petrova, who is making her WTA Championships debut, in the nightcap. One other match will pit the defending champion Maria Sharapova against Swiss lefty Patty Schnyder.

The 22-year-old Clijsters is 3-0 lifetime against the resurgent 30-year-old Pierce, including a lopsided 6-3, 6-1 victory in the U.S. Open final in September, while the 29-year-old Davenport has yet to lose to the 23-year-old Petrova in six career meetings, including a semifinal victory at Amelia Island earlier this season.
The 18-year-old Maria Sharapova and 26-year-old Schnyder have split two career matches, with the Swiss capturing their lone meeting this year on red clay in Rome.
The former world No. 1 Clijsters captured this lucrative event back-to-back in 2002 and 2003, while the current No. 1 Davenport won the tournament back in 1999.

Maria Sharapova prevailed in last year's elite eight-woman field here by topping Serena Williams in the final. Maria, who also bested Williams in last year's Wimbledon finale, is the only player other than Davenport to hold down the No. 1 ranking this year.

This year's field also features last week's Philadelphia titlist Amelie Mauresmo of France and Russian Elena Dementieva. Round-robin play will be the order of the day here from Tuesday through Friday, while the semifinals will be held on Saturday, followed by a Sunday night title match.

A four-player "Green Group" features Davenport, Sharapova, Schnyder and Petrova, while a four-player "Black Group" consists of Clijsters, Mauresmo, Pierce and Dementieva ... The 2005 WTA Championships winner will collect $1 million, while the runner-up will pocket $500,000



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