Friday, October 26, 2012

WTA TOUR FINALS: Serena Beats Down #1 Vika

Serena Williams won her 56th WTA tour match of the year, beating World #1 Victoria Azarenka for the 5th time this year and improving to a career head-to-head record of 11-1 against the 2012 Australian Open champion. In fact, Serena has now won 46 of her last 48 matches and has only lost four times in 2012 (to Ekaterina Makarova in the 4th round of the Australian Open, Caroline Wozniacki at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Virginia Razzano in the 1st round of the 2012 French Open and Angelique Kerber in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Financial Open.

By defeating Azarenka 6-4 6-4 Serena is now 3-0 in the round-robin at the WTA Tour Year-End Championships and only needs to win two more matches to complete her stunning 2012 season. Azarenka had a bad serving day but showed her mental tenacity by breaking Serena at love when  the American was serving for the first set but then Vika ended up losing the set on another double fault. Despite throwing her racquet to the ground, the word #1 was able to race out to a double-break 3-0 lead in the second set. However, Serena was able to storm back with clutch serving, eventually winning 4 games in a row and although Azarenka was able to stop the run by holding to 4-all the next time she served she went down triple break point and ended the match with a whimper on yet another double fault.

Serena and Maria Sharapova have now qualified for the semifinals in their respective halves of the draw. On Friday, Azarenka will face Li Na in an important match that will decide who will be the second player who advances to the semifinal from the Red Group.  Additionally, Sara Errani and Agnieska Radwanska will play a match that will decide who advances to the 2nd second semifinal slot in the White Group.

In addition to the semifinal slots, the World #1 is up for grabs as well. If Kvitova-replacement Sam Stosur beats Sharapova then Azarenka will automatically get the year-end #1 ranking. Stosur lost to Errani today. If Azarenka wins her match against Li Na then, the Belarus will end the year at #1. If Sharapova beats Stosur and Azarenka loses, Sharapova would still need to win her semifinal and the final in order to claim the #1 ranking, which is a very unlikely result.

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