- WTA Championships begin in Istanbul Tuesday
- Eight-strong tournament has three newcomers
- Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova opens proceedings against Vera Zvonareva
- Maria Sharapova the only member of the field to have won the tournament
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will open proceedings at the WTA Championships in Istanbul Tuesday in her first appearance in the prestigious end-of-season finale.
The Czech was a surprise winner at SW19, beating Maria Sharapova in the final of the grass court grand slam, helping her to earn a place in the elite eight-strong field in Turkey.
She faces experienced Russian Vera Zvonerava in the first match in Red Group and knows that to progress from the robin stage will be tough.
"It doesn't matter who's in the group. All eight players are very strong," she told the WTA official website.
Kvitova, with four other titles in her breakthrough season, must emerge in the top two out of section which also includes World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska.
Pole Radwanska is also a newcomer to the WTA Championships after a storming late season run with two titles.
Arguably, she is in better form than her opponent Wozniacki in the second match on court Tuesday.
While she was winning titles in Beijing and Tokyo, Danish ace Wozniacki was making early exits.
"I was the last one to get in here so I'm just going to enjoy myself and try to play my best tennis, like in Asia," said Radwanska, who had to sweat on the performance of first alternate Marion Bartoli in the final counting event at the Kremlin Cup before sealing her place.
The final match of the first day's proceedings pits Sharapova against newly-crowned U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur in the Blue Group.
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and China's Li Na complete the section and will be in action Wednesday.
Stosur, who stunned Serena Williams to claim her first grand slam title at Flushing Meadows, knows she faces a tough task to progress.
"Maria (Sharapova) and Victoria (Azarenka) I've never beaten before, so there's a great challenge in itself," she said.
Defending champion Kim Clijsters, who beat Wozniacki in last year's final, did not qualify for the tournament after a season ruined by injury, while Williams has not played since reaching the final at the U.S. Open and is in 12th place in the rankings.
Sharapova, who beat Williams for the title in 2004, is the only previous winner of the event in an inexperienced field with French Open champion Li Na joining Kvitova and Radwanska as first timers.