Top 8 women set for battle
Originally published on: 22/10/12 00:00
When the WTA Championships gets underway on Tuesday it will mark the first time in the tournament’s 42-year history that all eight players hail from eight different countries – Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), Maria Sharapova (Russia), Serena Williams (United States), Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland), Angelique Kerber (Germany), Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic), Sara Errani (Italy) and Li Na (China).
Wimbledon, Olympic and US Open champion Williams has been drawn in the red group along with Australian Open champion Azarenka, Kerber and Li. The American has been in dazzling form of late, winning 43 of her last 45 matches, and with a career win-loss record of 35-5 against the other seven women, the 15-time Grand Slam champion will be fully confident of collecting her third end-of-season title.
Standing in her way is last year’s runner-up Azarenka, who is making her fourth appearance at the Championships. The Belarusian has a 1-10 losing record versus Williams but the world No.1 proved in New York that she’s getting closer to the American with every match they play. Since losing the US Open final, Azarenka has steam-rolled, winning 26 sets in a row on her way to titles in Beijing and Linz.
Kerber and Li complete the red group. Debutant Kerber is the only player present who has beaten Williams this year, while Li, who is playing in her second Championships, boasts a career winning record (26-23) against the other seven players.
The 2004 champion Sharapova will be looking to finish 2012 on a high after completing her collection of Grand Slam victories with the French Open title in June. The Russian is the favourite to make it through the white group but she’ll need to be at the top of her game to get past Kvitova, Radwanska and Errani.
Defending champion Kvitova has never lost a match at the WTA Championships but the Czech world No.6 has struggled of late losing to world No. 73 Petra Martic and world No.46 Carla Suarez Navarro in her last two tournaments.
Radwanska and Errani make up the white group. Wimbledon finalist Radwanksa is making her third appearance while debutant Errani, who has had a breakthrough year climbing from No.45 to No.7 in the rankings, has never beaten Sharapova or Kvitova.
TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships
Order of play: Tuesday, October 23 (from 15:00 BST)
1. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Petra Kvitova
2. Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Sara Errani