<
>

Will Caroline Wozniacki wow us in Doha?

The show must go on.

Yes, without the world's most dominant female player (Serena Williams), its most marketable (Maria Sharapova), a second comeback Belgian (Justine Henin) and big-name veteran (Venus Williams) the women's year-end championships begin Tuesday in cash-heavy Qatar.

The WTA Tour's prayers were answered when it came to U.S. Open Champion Kim Clijsters, though. Clijsters has recovered in time from a foot infection to compete.

ESPN.com breaks down the eight competitors.

The favorites

Caroline Wozniacki: Wozniacki is in a bit of a no-win situation. If she wins the title in Doha, Qutar, especially without topping Clijsters, critics will say the Dane didn't have to beat anyone special. If she fails to win, it gives more ammunition to those who feel she's not a worthy No. 1.

Nonetheless, Wozniacki is on a roll, going 24-1 in her past 25. Further, for the first time in a while before a massive event, she's fit and/or rested. "I'm 100 percent healthy now," she told her website last week, also throwing in a great line about being followed by the paparazzi.

Kim Clijsters: Clijsters hasn't played since the U.S. Open, so rust figures to be a factor. Just how rusty is the question. If Clijsters finds her form quickly, the power baseliner has to be the leading contender.

Clijsters is without hubby Brian and bubbly daughter Jada, regulars in her entourage. Is that good in the sense she can focus entirely on tennis or bad since she'll no doubt be missing them?

Vera Zvonareva: Could Zvonareva be the sentimental favorite, slightly ahead of Francesca Schiavone? Zvonareva has had a breakthrough season, reaching two Grand Slam finals, and appears to have become calmer. She's still a work in progress on court. Claiming the title might take the Russian's confidence to another level, setting her up nicely for the Slams in 2011.

Don't count 'em out

Francesca Schiavone: Schiavone has a lovely all-court game and now the confidence to trouble big hitters on a hard court, as the Italian showcased at the U.S. Open. She enjoyed success on the recently completed Asian swing, too.

Although Schiavone has one eye on the upcoming Fed Cup final -- she loves representing Italy -- expect her to give it her all in Doha. At 30, she's the oldest competitor and one of two debutants.

"For sure I want to enjoy it, but I also want to keep going forward," she told the WTA Tour's website last week. "This is just the start for me."

Victoria Azarenka: Who knows what she'll do. Azarenka, only participating because of injuries to others, could lose all of her matches or go unbeaten.

The highly volatile 21-year-old, who went into meltdown mode in Doha in 2009, enters in good spirits, having won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Sunday.

Samantha Stosur: Despite reaching the fourth round or better at three of the Slams in 2010, Stosur remains a tad unpredictable, although not in the same class as Azarenka.

Given that Stosur has struggled in the past to believe she can mix it with the elite, it'll be interesting to see how she fares. The serve and forehand need to be working.

Little chance

Elena Dementieva: We all admire Dementieva for her work ethic and lack of excuses. It's refreshing, but Dementieva can't win a huge tournament. This year gave us more proof. Dementieva lost to Henin in Melbourne, Australia, and failed to finish off Stosur in New York. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Russian in the semis.

Jelena Jankovic: Jankovic, the antithesis of Dementieva when it comes to excuses, dealt with more health problems in Moscow. It's too bad Na Li couldn't get into the tournament, since she'd be a much bigger threat than Jankovic. Jankovic only had one decent major and did virtually nothing (apart from Indian Wells) outside the clay-court campaign.