Top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo will need to overcome a sore shoulder and an even more painful record at the Zurich Open if she hopes to finish the season atop the WTA Tour rankings.
"To finish as world No. 1 would be the cherry on an already fabulous season," Mauresmo said Tuesday. "But it's going to be tough to finish ahead of Justine (Henin-Hardenne) considering the points situation and my physical condition. I don't have any illusions in regards to that goal."
Mauresmo, who received a first-round bye in Zurich and will begin play Wednesday, won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year and has been leading the WTA Tour rankings for 31 consecutive weeks. The top-ranked Frenchwoman currently has a margin of 194 points over runner-up Henin-Hardenne, and 630 points more than U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova, who sits third.
But the rankings reflect a player's results over the last 52 weeks and the year-end rankings will cover the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2006. Many of Mauresmo's points currently come from October and November 2005, which will expire.
"To get more points it will be important to do well here, especially after what happened in Moscow," Mauresmo said. Mauresmo's campaign took a hit at last week's Kremlin Cup, where she lost in the quarterfinals against 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3) after leading 6-1, 5-2.
"It was a very frustrating defeat. But I have to take away a couple of things from that," the 26-year-old said. "First, what I did for almost two sets to get to 6-1, 5-2 but also the lesson from letting her back into the game.
"It shows that even after having achieved big things I'm not immune to a loss of vigilance and rigor, which, earlier in the season, would have allowed me to wrap up that kind of match." Mauresmo needs to rally in Zurich, but it won't be easy. The Frenchwoman has won just one match in three appearances in Zurich.
She won her first match in 1998, and was defeated in the opening rounds in 2003 and 2005.
This time she is carrying a nagging shoulder injury, which caused her to pull out of Stuttgart.
"I always lose in the first round here, or I don't manage to go very far. I'd like to finally reverse that trend," she said. "I feel better this year despite my shoulder injury, which is a bit frustrating and prevents me from being 100 percent, but I still think I can do better than in previous years."
The Zurich Open is the last Tier I event before the season-ending WTA Tour Championships in Madrid, Spain, and only the top eight players in the WTA race rankings qualify.
The top three seeded players in Zurich _ Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova _ already have secured their berths. Mauresmo is the defending champion but the points she earned from that title won't count in the year-end rankings.