Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WTA TOUR FINALS: The Elite Eight and the Draw

The Eight women who have qualified for the WTA Tour Finals to be held in Istanbul this week are (from left to right) Li Na, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Agnieska Radwanska and Sara Errani.

The year end #1 ranking is (somewhat) at stake, with Azarenka able to clinch the spot if she wins just two round-robin matches. If Vika doesn't and Sharapova wins the entire tournament, then Masha could be World #1 for 2012. Of course, since Serena won not one but two Grand Slam titles (2012 Wimbledon, 2012 US Open) plus Olympic Gold medals in Singles and Doubles in 2012, the #1 ranking on the WTA Tour is not the same thing as saying who was the best player in 2012, since Serena's results speak for themselves, especially since she is so dominant against both Vika (the 2012 Australian Open champ) and Masha (the 2012 French Open champ), having not lost to either player all year.

The two groups for round-robin play at the Year-End Championships are:

Red Group• No. 1 Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
• No. 3 Serena Williams (USA)
• No. 5 Angelique Kerber (GER)
• No. 8 Li Na (CHN)
White Group• No. 2 Maria Sharapova (RUS)
• No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
• No. 6 Petra Kvitova (CZE)
• No. 7 Sara Errani (ITA)
This means that Vika and Serena will play each other once in the round-robin and then maybe again in the final (since the top 2 from one group play elimination semifinals against the Top 2 in the other group, with #1 from one group playing #2 from the other group).
Clearly the red group is the tougher group, with all 4 players supreme bashers of the ball. In the White group (honestly, they couldn't have used the name "Blue" group?) Radwanksa and Errani are not exactly power players. However I would not be surprised if the Top 2 are not Sharapova and 2011 WTA Tour champion Kvitova. The White group surprisingly, does consist of only players who have reached a slam final before.
It would be great for the tournament (and the tour!) if Kvitova and Sharapova have to face Azarenka and Serena in the semis, then the final would feature some heavy hitting.
The tournament starts today and runs through the final on Sunday.

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