Titles Won (2): Doha, Baku (2-2 in finals)
Best Grand Slam Result: SF (1): Australian Open
Win/Loss Record: 55-19
Record Against Top 10: 3-6
SEC History: Fifth appearance; runner-up in 2008
While Vera Zvonareva's 2011 hasn't been as flashy as 2010, when she made back-to-back Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, she has applied her powerful, well-rounded game to considerable effect. She reached the semis at the Australian Open, falling to eventual champion Kim Clijsters, and won her 11th and 12th career titles at the Qatar Ladies Open and the inaugural Baku Cup. She also spent time at her career-high ranking of No.2, first earned late last year.
Making her fifth trip to the season finale at 27 years of age, self-confessed perfectionist Zvonareva now channels her on-court emotions in more constructive ways. The upshot is that she has evolved into one of the WTA's most reliable performers, her feat of reaching at least the semifinals nine times this year second only to Caroline Wozniacki's effort.
Although the thoughtful Russian's clay court season was, by her standards, middling and she didn't lift a trophy on the North American swing, Zvonareva was perhaps the most constant of the elite players. She reached the final at Carlsbad, the round of 16 at Toronto, the semis at Cincinnati and the quarters at Flushing Meadows, where eventual champion Samantha Stosur ended her run.
Since then she has been runner-up at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo (to her new nemesis, Agnieszka Radwanska - the Pole has won all three of their meetings in the second half of 2011) and fell to Ana Ivanovic in the third round of the China Open. Desite falling in the quarters as top seed at last week's Kremlin Cup, Zvonareva arrives in Turkey's biggest city as one of just four players to post more than 50 match wins this season, and with the most hardcourt wins under her belt (43, for 13 losses).
All of this while studying for a degree in international relations at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Zvonareva has already proven that her classy all-court arsenal is highly effective in the Championships pressurecooker. She emerged winless from her tournament debut back in 2004, but in two of the last three years has won all three of her round robin matches, eventually succumbing to Venus Williams in a three set final in 2008, and Wozniacki in the semis last year. Doha suited her well but, in an open field, Istanbul could fit even better.