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About threesets

Three Sets is a new women's tennis blog following the WTA tour. No smut allowed.

Sharapova needs group form to reclaim Tour title

Maria Sharapova heads into this season’s WTA Championships as world number two, with a Grand Slam to her name and an Olympic silver medal this year.

The Russian faces tough opposition against the top eight players in the world for the WTA Championship crown, but with her recent run of form Sharapova will feel confident she can win the curtain call event of the season.

Sharapova has been drawn in in the White group for the round robin stage, alongside Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber and Li Na. And although Sharapova will have her work cut out to overcome Williams – who beat her 6-0 6-1 in the final of London 2012 – few will contest her position as favourite against the other two in the group.

Statistically, Sharapova has been on fire this season and has only missed out on another Grand Slam through the impressive determination of opponents. Fifty-six wins to 10 losses prove her position as world number two is well earned and bar a bad mid-summer in the UK she has performed well all year.

She looked exhausted during the Olympic final representing her home country Russia, a criticism noted in her fourth-round exit at Wimbledon. Yet a final appearance at the Australian Open before claiming the title at Roland Garros over Sara Errani 6-3 6-2 proves Sharapova can make it to big event finals.

The 2004 WTA Tour champion will head into Istanbul next week with great confidence of reclaiming the title she won eight years ago and performances in the group stage will give us an early indication of if she can fulfil that dream.

She must convincingly beat Kerber and Li to finish at least second in the group. If she can do this then her energy levels should be enough to pull through the gruelling final rounds.

Photo: 

Haruneskar
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Kremlin victory vital for Wozniacki career

Caroline Wozniacki’s three-set victory over Sam Stosur in Sunday’s final of the Kremlin Cup could be a defining moment in the young star’s career, after a tempestuous season suggested she would never regain the form of previous years.

Wozniacki, playing in a rare 2012 tour final, overcame Stosur 6-2 4-6 7-5 in Moscow to secure her second WTA title of the year – a poor harvest for someone who started 2012 as world number one.

Indeed, bad form and injuries have seriously hampered Wozniacki’s season yet she was expected to win more titles than Moscow and Seoul, the latter of which she claimed last month. Her ranking has slipped from first to 11th and did not look likely to improve before her Kremlin Cup victory.

So poor has the Dane been that there were serious misgivings that she would ever reclaim a place in the world top-10 again but this second title of the year should see her rise up the rankings – if only a little.

Indeed, the title will be crucial both for her confidence and her seeding at Grand Slams next season. Had she succumbed to the powerful Stosur, Wozniacki would have gone into next year without form, confidence or the ranking needed for a respectable draw at the Australian Open. Some would argue she doesn’t deserve a good seeding after falling in the third round of Roland Garros this summer before collapsing to first-round defeats at Wimbledon and the US Open.

However, this three-set victory proves Wozniacki has it in her to match the best. Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka have all pushed the bar higher than ever before this year and Wozniacki must capitalise on this title in Russia and start the season well next January.

If the 22-year-old can find her form again then she will become a formidable opponent on the circuit once more and with the illusive first Grand Slam still far out of reach, any WTA tour success at this stage is no doubt greatly received.

Photo:  

Charlie Cowins

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WTA Championships draw announced

At a glitzy ceremony in Istanbul, the draw for the WTA Championships was made on Sunday evening in front of the women’s tennis circuit’s elite stars.

The tournament includes an initial round robin stage before two qualifiers from each group head into the semi-finals and eventual final in Turkey, which will be played next Sunday, 28 October.

The world’s top eight players were drawn into two groups of four, with top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova heading each side. Below are the two groups with each players’ world ranking.

Red Group

Victoria Azarenka – BLR (1)

Serena Williams – USA (3)

Angelique Kerber – GER (5)

Li Na – CHN (8)

White Group

Maria Sharapova – RUS (2)

Agnieszka Radwanska – POL (4)

Petra Kvitova – CZE (6)

Sara Errani – ITA (7)

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Wozniacki wins Kremlin Cup showdown

If ever a tennis player needed a title it was Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane has suffered a terrible season yet ends 2012 with a second WTA title in as many months after defeating Sam Stosur 6-2 4-6 7-5 in an epic encounter in Moscow.

Wozniacki picks up a cheque of $740,000 dollars for Russia’s showpiece Kremlin Cup event yet will take more confidence in her victory than any amount of money can buy.

The 22-year-old started well against Stosur, whom she had a 3-3 career record, grinding her opponent down with resilient tennis that screams of the quality she showed when world number one last season.

Stosur could not reply in the first set and appeared restricted by her own game, offering up unforced errors during her own serve to quickly find herself a set down and broken three times. In reply, the Australian came back fighting and broke Wozniacki in the second set – enough to force her way back into the match.

Indeed, the pair entered the final set in completely opposite form from the first, with Wozniacki unable to even find successive points against her opponent.

However, Wozniacki’s rollercoaster ride this season fit her game well and the Dane once more came back, pinning her rival level in the third 4-4. Wozniacki gifted Stosur three break points – all spurned – and headed into the final game 6-5 up on the Australian’s serve.

So unpredictable has Wozniacki’s season been that even with a match point there will have been some predicting a loss, yet Stosur’s final forehand wide handed Wozniacki the title and secured her place in the top-15 of the women’s game heading into the new year.

Photo: niccombe

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Errani has stats on her side for Turkey task

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Sara Errani has her work cut out at the WTA Championships next week after qualifying for both the singles and doubles event in Istanbul.

The Italian is just the fifth player to compete in both events since the round robin aspect of the tournament was introduced back in 2003 and looking at the form book over the past nine years suggests she has a chance of doing well this autumn.

For Errani joins an elite field of players that have competed at both doubles and singles in the same WTA Championships. Kim Clijsters was the first to do so in 2003, where she won the singles event and came runner up with partner Ai Sugiyama.

A year later and Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the final of the singles and the doubles semis, while the Williams sisters partnered up in 2009 to make the semis together before battling out a singles final between them.

The stats, therefore, suggest Errani will make at least the singles final and a semi-final place in the doubles – despite the obvious pressures and strains playing both tournaments will come with.

Her partner, Italian world number 15 Roberta Vinci, has been a decent form this season and must help Errani balance her workload if she is to get through the round robin stages next week. Speaking to the Championships’ official website, Errani expressed her delight at qualifying for both fields.

“I’m so proud to be able to represent my country at the WTA Championships in both singles and doubles,” Errani said. “This has been a wonderful year for me, and to be able to play not only singles in Istanbul, but also doubles with my good friend Roberta Vinci, is a great way to finish the season.”

Photo:

Christian Mesiano

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by | 20/10/2012 · 07:30

WTA Champs stats prove it’s Serena’s title to lose

ImageSerena Williams is by far the form girl heading into next week’s WTA Championship finals in Istanbul, where the top eight players in the world meet at the curtain call event of the year.

With six tour titles adding to her Wimbledon, US Open and Olympics crowns this year, Williams has proven she is more than capable of continuing her dominance of the women’s game despite her lack of tour events.

Indeed, so good has Williams been that she heads into the WTA Championships with a 9-1 aggregate score over her seven other opponents. Only world number five Angelique Kerber has overcome Williams this season, and that was with the German playing above even her wildest expectations to win 6-4 6-4.

Williams should have no fear playing against Kerber or any of the other competitors in Turkey however, for her power and resilience on court has proved the crucial point in grinding down weaker opponents. Her 6-0 6-1 demolition of Maria Sharapova at London 2012 proved just how focussed Williams is and despite being up against the best in the women’s game she should have no problems bypassing the early rounds this October.

The full list of qualified competitors for the WTA Championships:

1) Victoria Azarenka – 10,190 points

2) Maria Sharapova – 9,115 points

3) Serena Williams – 7,900 points

4) Agnieszka Radwanska – 7,095 points

5) Angelique Kerber – 5,470 points

6) Petra Kvitova – 5,215 points

7) Sara Errani – 4,855 points

8) Li Na – 4,726 points

Photo:

ZankaM

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by | 19/10/2012 · 08:19

WTA sickness bug could ruin Kvitova’s Tour dreams

The WTA Tour Championships could prove a strain too far for some of the WTA’s top players after a mysterious illness played havoc with competitors on tour this month.

Petra Kvitova, fifth in the world, looked slow and pale during her China Open second-round match with Carla Suarez Navarro a week ago. Stomach flu was apparently the cause of the problem and the reason for her underperformance, while Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – world number 24 – also withdrew from the tournament with a gastrointestinal illness.

This bug could have serious repercussions of Kvitova’s attempted to reach her second WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul in just a few weeks time. China was meant to boost the 22-year-old’s chances of making the showpiece event and she would have needed form in order to topple the four better players above her in the rankings.

She isn’t the only one to have felt the affects of a dodgy bug that has swept through the tour however. Victoria Azarenka had to take a couple of breathers during her second-round defeat in Japan last month after feeling dizzy on court, while US Champion Serena Williams withdrew from the China Open after suffering a heavy flu bug around the same time.

No one knows if the illnesses are related but it is nevertheless concerning that three of the world’s top five players have come down with something so close to the Tour Championships.

Match practice is vital for Kvitova is she is to compete properly in Turkey this October and Beijing was meant thought of as the perfect preparation for the event. Now, however, there is concern whether or not she can even compete at the highest level when she touches down in Istanbul in three week’s time.

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