Serena tops Azarenka at WTA Championships

1:13 PM, Oct 25, 2012   |    comments
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Istanbul, Turkey (Sports Network) - In a rematch of last month's U.S. Open final, Serena Williams once again beat Victoria Azarenka, this time at the season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul.

The third-seeded former world No. 1 Williams defeated the currently-top-ranked Azarenka 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour, 35 minutes indoors at Sinan Erdem Dome. The American star swatted 11 aces, compared to zero for her Belarusian counterpart, who piled up nine double faults en route to defeat.

After Williams snuck out a first-set win, Azarenka jumped out to a 3-0 second- set lead with the help of a pair of breaks. But the powerful American would not be denied on Day 3, as she roared back to win six of the next seven games to improve to 3-0 in this week's round-robin Red Group.

Williams is the Red Group winner and had already secured a berth in Saturday's semifinals. The sizzling-hot star has now won 46 of her last 48 matches overall and is a perfect 12-0 against top-five women this season.

The 31-year-old Williams improved to 5-0 against Azarenka in 2012, as the American great also beat the Belarusian in last month's U.S. Open finale and is now a lopsided 11-1 lifetime against Azarenka.

The 2012 Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic champion Williams captured WTA Championships titles in 2001 and 2009 and is a two-time runner-up at this prestigious event.

The 23-year-old Azarenka now needs to beat Li Na on Friday to guarantee herself the year-end No. 1 ranking. If she loses, Maria Sharapova would finish the year at No. 1 if she can go undefeated this week.

The Australian Open champion Azarenka was last year's WTA Championships runner-up to Czech left-hander Petra Kvitova.

In Thursday's opening match, the former French Open champion Li kept her semifinal hopes alive by dousing German southpaw Angelique Kerber.

The eighth-seeded Chinese star Li improved to 1-1 this week with a 6-4, 6-3 handling of the fifth-seeded Kerber, who went a disappointing 0-3 in her round-robin affairs.

Also on Day 3, seventh-seeded Italian Sara Errani is taking on ninth-seeded Aussie Samantha Stosur, who replaced the 2011 WTA Championships titlist Kvitova in the eight-woman field on Wednesday.

The four-player Red Group features Azarenka (1-1), Williams, Kerber and Li, while the White Group boasts the 2004 champion and 2007 WTA Championships runner-up Sharapova (2-0), Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska (1-1), the French Open runner-up Errani (0-1) and the replacement Stosur.

The top-two players in each group advance to the semifinals, with the winners squaring off in the lucrative finale on Sunday. Sharapova, like Williams, has already secured a berth in the final four.

The winner of this $4.9 million event could collect as much as $1.75 million.

The Sports Network

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