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WTA Results, Predictions (Day 1, 2)

Istanbul 2011

October 25, 2011 | 06:40 PM

TRIVIA QUESTIONS (answers at bottom of this post):

1. Who was the only man to achieve the #1 world ranking without winning a major?

2. In the last 3 years how many women have reached #1 without winning a major?


Red group:

#1 Wozniacki

#3 Kvitova

# 6 Zvonareva

#8 Radwanska

WOZ won a tough 3 setter with Radwanska, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, who played fearless tennis, mixing her length, spin and pace to force the #1 to play one of her best matches since coming back against Schiavone after losing the 1st set in the semi-final in Australia. The star from Poland came back from being down 0-40 at 4-5 to take the first set, and evened the 3rd set after being down a break and 40-0 before the star with the Polish name [lost yet?] won some long battles with brilliant tennis to close it out.

Kvitova is the favorite in this group given her 15-0 record indoors this year. The only player she has not played this year is Wozniacki, and she took care of #6 Zvonareva (6-2, 6-4), who beat Caroline in their only match of 2011.

White group:

#2 Sharapova

# 4 Azarenka

#5 Na Li

#7 Stosur

Maria was taken down by the new Open champ Sam Stosur, 6-1, 7-5, who played with the confidence that fueled her decisive victory over Serena in the US final. In their 9 previous encounters, Maria had been able to rush Sam and force errors enough to hold a 9-0 edge. Today Sam was ready for the pace even on her backhand, hitting winners of her own off both sides and equalling Maria with winners, while dancing nimbly on the baseline like Rafa to keep her errors down to almost half of Maria's 30 UE's. After taking the 1st set in 28 minutes, Sam saw herself go down 0-3 in the 2nd. She showed the same composure as she'd done in her 2nd set with Serena to work her way quickly back to even at 3-3. For #2 Sharapova to stay in the race for #1, she'll have to win her next two matches and Wozniacki will have to lose one of hers. Their respective results today made this scenario seem less likely.

A favorite is tougher to pick in this group.

- Sharapova lost to both Azarenka and Na Li this year, but can't be counted out even after her loss to Stosur today.

- Azarenka just won an indoor tournament and beat Maria in their only encounter this year, but she lost to Na Li twice. Although she did not play Stosur this year, she is 4-0 with her lifetime.

- Stosur beat Na Li 3 times, and is in a good position to make the semis after today's win.

- Na Li beat Maria once along with beating Azarenka twice, but has not played as well since Paris.

PREDICTIONS: My hunch is that Kvitova will win the event and move ahead of Maria in the year-end rankings, but Wozniacki will hold on to her #1 ranking by making the final 4. Stosur and Azarenka are my other two picks to reach the semis (they are favored in the Betfair odds to do so), and I think the final should be Stosur v Kvitova though the odds favor Azarenka over Stosur by 2 to 1 in their match tomorrow.


Samantha Stosur vs. Victoria Azarenka

Maria Sharapova vs. Li Na

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Vera Zvonareva


1. The only man to reach the #1 ranking without winning a major was Marcelo Rios for 6 weeks in the spring of 1998.

2. Three women have reached #1 in the last 3 years without winning a major: Jelena Jankovic (2009), Dinara Safina (2009), and Caroline Wozniacki (2010-11).



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