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ZeroSOFInfinity
Nov 5th, 2007, 11:52 AM
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Madrid Profile: Svetlana Kuznetsova

MADRID, Spain - Svetlana Kuznetsova has been one of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's most consistent performers in 2007, enjoying a title run in New Haven and five runner-up finishes – most notably at the US Open. These successes have seen the Russian rewarded not only with a place in the prestigious Sony Ericsson Championships, but also a career-high ranking of No.2.
After a slightly disappointing start to the season, Kuznetsova found her feet in Doha and Indian Wells where she achieved back-to-back runner-up finishes. This sparkling form continued for the remainder of the season, bringing success on every surface. A memorable three weeks in America was undoubtedly the highlight of the 22-year-old's year, where she captured a ninth career title in New Haven before reaching her third Grand Slam final at Flushing Meadows - losing out to an inspired Justine Henin. In addition to the 55 wins racked-up since January, 2007 has also brought Fed Cup glory for Kuznetsova, with the St. Petersburg-born star enjoying an unblemished 4-0 record in the competition.
Kuznetsova will be hoping it is third-time lucky for her in the Madrid, as her previous two appearances in the season-ending showpiece have both culminated in premature exits. In both 2004 and 2006 the former US Open champion failed to make it beyond the round robin stage, but after the year she has enjoyed there is every possibility of her improving on this disappointing 2-4 record next week.
"Qualifying for the Sony Ericsson Championships was one of the main goals I set myself for this season," Kuznetsova said. "It's an honor for every player to make it to the best eight and I'm happy I have done it again this year. Playing in Spain is always very special for me. I have a lot of friends who come and watch me and have lived there now for many years, so I consider it a second home."

QUICK STATS
Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships standing: No.3
2007 Win-Loss Record: 55-17
2007 Highlights: Won (1): New Haven; R-Up (5): US Open, Doha, Indian Wells, Berlin, Rome; SF (4): Dubai, Warsaw, Stuttgart, Moscow
Championships history: Third appearance at this event; in 2004 (d. Zvonareva; l. to Mauresmo and eventual champion Sharapova) and 2006 (d. Dementieva; l. to Sharapova and Clijsters) fell in round robin group stage

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Championships Profile: Ana Ivanovic

MADRID, Spain - The emergence of Ana Ivanovic as a major force on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour has been one of the most exciting developments of the 2007 season and next week she will look to crown a glorious season with a title run in Madrid. Perhaps the greatest of the young Serbs long list of achievements was her memorable runner-up finish to Justine Henin at Roland Garros, although in a year which saw her collect three trophies and establish herself in the world's Top 5 there was certainly no shortage of highlights.
After a quietly impressive opening few months of the season, Ivanovic really started to hit top form at the start of the clay court season. A powerful all-court game enabled her to embark on a 12 match win streak, encapsulating a title run at the prestigious Tier I event in Berlin and an even more spectacular runner-up finish on the terre battue of Roland Garros. From here the 20-year-old's star continued to rise and the next four months brought title runs in Los Angeles and Luxembourg, as well as a semifinal finish on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon.
Alongside Jelena Jankovic and Anna Chakvetadze, Ivanovic is one of three players making their Sony Ericsson Championships debut this week, but after the year she has enjoyed she will certainly be among the favorites to take the title. She was the fourth player to qualify for the Spanish showpiece and with her hard-sitting game there is every chance of her going all the way at the Recinto Ferial Casa de Campo next week.
"I'm delighted," Ivanovic said. "At the start of the season I made this my No.1 goal, so to achieve it is very satisfying. As a professional tennis player, I train for the opportunity to play against the top players, and in Madrid we should have all of the world's best players there. It's going to be a very exciting tournament and a new experience for me. I am also looking forward to spending some time in Madrid, because I love Spain."

QUICK STATS
Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships standing: No.4
2007 Win-Loss Record: 49-16
2007 Highlights: Won (3): Berlin, Los Angeles, Luxembourg; R-Up (2): Roland Garros, Tokyo [Pan Pacific]; SF (2): Wimbledon, Amelia Island
Championships history: Making event debut


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Madrid Profile: Maria Sharapova

MADRID, Spain - The final qualification spot for the 2007 Sony Ericsson Championships fell to former champion Maria Sharapova and despite having played just one match since the US Open, she certainly has the pedigree to repeat her 2004 triumph. The young Russian has endured a difficult year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour with a persistent right-shoulder injury hampering her playing schedule. Despite this she still managed to finish runner-up at the Australian Open and capture the prestigious Tier I title in San Diego.
After her heroics in San Diego and Melbourne, arguably Sharapova's next best performance of 2007 came on the punishing clay courts of Roland Garros. The 20-year-old cast aside her injury woes to embark on a memorable run in the French capital, defeating Patty Schnyder 36 64 97 in a thrilling fourth-round battle before eventually falling to an inspired Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals.
Although Sharapova arrives in Madrid short on match practice, the two-time Grand Slam champion possesses a fine record at the season-ending Championships. After winning the prestigious title on her event debut in 2004, the proceeding two years have seen the former world No.1 suffer semifinal heartache - on both occasions losing out to the eventual champion - and she will be desperate to taste more glory when she steps out at the Recinto Ferial Casa de Campo next week.
"This has been a very frustrating year for me physically and I'm really disappointed that I haven't been able to compete as much as I would like," Sharapova said. "But I'm a big competitor and after resting my shoulder for a few weeks I'm determined to compete at the Sony Ericsson Championships."

QUICK STATS

Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships standing: No.9*
2007 Win-Loss Record: 36-10
2007 Highlights: Won (1): San Diego; R-Up (2): Australian Open, Birmingham; SF (4): Roland Garros, Tokyo [Pan Pacific], Istanbul, Los Angeles
Championships history: Fourth appearance at this event; captured the title on debut in 2004 (d. Kuznetsova, Zvonareva, Myskina en route to final, where d. S.Williams); in 2005 and 2006 fell at semifinal stage to eventual champions Mauresmo and Henin respectively
*Qualified by virtue of Venus Williams' withdrawal due to illness


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Madrid Profile: Daniela Hantuchova

MADRID, Spain - Daniela Hantuchova has enjoyed a quietly impressive year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in 2007 and an impressive title run in Linz last week secured her place at the season-ending showpiece in Madrid. The popular Slovak is one of a select band of players to have recorded over 50 wins this year and this, allied with a morale boosting European indoor season, will see her arrive at the Sony Ericsson Championships in high spirits.
After a slow start to the year, Hantuchova's game finally clicked into gear on the hardcourts of Indian Wells where she defeated Martina Hingis and Svetlana Kuznetsova en route to the Tier I title. Despite slightly disappointing performances in the Grand Slams, the 24-year-old was remarkably consistent for the remainder of the year, finishing runner-up in Bali and Luxembourg, breaking back into the elite Top 10 and rounding her season off in style with victory in Austria on Sunday.
Hantuchova will be making just her second appearance at the year-end finale next week and will be eager to improve on the first-round defeat she suffered in 2002. While she may have left it late to secure qualification, the world No.9 comes to the Spanish capital in fine form and will be looking to end a wonderful season on an even higher note.
"It's definitely a dream come true for me this year and I know I did everything possible to qualify for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Madrid," Hantuchova said. "All my hard work this year will make this a great reward and I'm just going to enjoy every single match so much. I'm thrilled to be a part of it and am really looking forward to going to Madrid."

QUICK STATS
Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships standing: No.8
2007 Win-Loss Record: 51-26
2007 Highlights: Won (2): Indian Wells, Linz; R-Up (2): Bali, Luxembourg; SF (5): Doha, Rome, 's-Hertogenbosch, Stanford, Kolkata
Championships history: Second appearance at this event; in 2002 fell in first round to Magdalena Maleeva