U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova has earned a place among the game's elite. The fifth-ranked Russian joined top-ranked Amelie Mauresmo and second-ranked Lindsay Davenport as the third woman to qualify for the year-end WTA Tour Championships, set for November 10-15th at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
The 19-year-old from St. Petersburg has produced the best season of her career in collecting three tournament titles, compiling a 54-7 record and rising from the 36th-ranked spot at the start of the season to her present position of No. 5.
Kuznetsova, whose 14-match winning streak came to an end at the hands of former No. 1 Serena Williams in Sunday's Beijing final, is third in the Porsche Race to the Championships standings with 3,336 points. She trails only Davenport (3,967 points) and Mauresmo (3,386 points), who was a Los Angeles finalist last year.
Eight players — Anastasia Myskina (2,982), Justine Henin-Hardenne (2,884), Elena Dementieva (2,707), Serena Williams (2,596), Jennifer Capriati (2,300), Maria Sharapova (2,250), Venus Williams (2,145) and Vera Zvonareva (2,096) — are separated by less than 900 points are vying for the final five spots with just six weeks remaining before the year-end event begins. Two-time Grand Slam runner-up Dementieva, who is currently sixth in the standings, and Wimbledon winner Sharapova, who is ninth, can both improve their positions with positive results this week.