WTA Finals tip by Ian Hudson
October 25th – 31st 2011 WTA Championships, Istanbul, Turkey.
The eight best women tennis players in the world are competing in the WTA finals in Istanbul this week. World number one Caroline Wozniacki is looking to confirm her status as statistically the leading lady player of the season by winning the season-ending event for the first time in her career. The tournament is being played indoors on hardcourts.
Wozniacki has won six titles this year and risen to the top of the rankings without winning a Grand Slam tournament. There are some pundits who question the validity of a system that allows a player to reach the peak of the game without winning a major championship. However, you cannot question Wozniacki sustained consistency over the last three years.
In 2006 the Danish player was ranked at 237 in the standings but improved her ranking each year over the next four years until she reached number one in 2010. She has won over 10 million dollars in official prize money so I hope she buys dinner when she goes out to eat with her current boyfriend, Rory McIlroy.
Wozniacki has competed in 19 Grand Slam tournaments without reaching a final. She has made the semis twice at the US Open and once in Australia. She has not progressed beyond the fourth round in four appearances at Wimbledon.
The world number one is in the red group at the finals in Istanbul and will play Petra Kvitova, Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska. Each player meets the other in their group, and the two top players in each pool move into the semi-finals with the final this coming Sunday.
Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, French Open champion Li Na and US Open winner Sam Stosur are in the white group in an event being held in Turkey for the first time. Thirteen-time Grand Slam singles winner Serena Williams failed to qualify for the tournament, as did her sister Venus.
Sharapova is ranked number two in the world and is therefore seeded to meet Wozniacki in the final. She has never quite made number one in the world so is now at a career high position. The Russian has won 24 WTA singles titles since turning pro in 2001.
The number two seed has won three Grand Slam titles in a ten year career. She only needs the French Open to then have won each of the four biggest tournaments of the year. In addition to the three wins Sharapova has made the semi-finals in eight grand Slam tournaments.
If the tournament goes to form and the seedings work out then Sharapova will meet Wozniacki in the final on Sunday. They have met on seven occasions and Sharapova has won five of those matches. Wozniacki has won two of the meetings on hardcourts.
In matches against common opponents Sharapova has won 58% of these crossover matches while Wozniacki has won just 43%. Before backing Sharapova its worth considering that she retired from her last competitive match due to an ankle injury and it's not clear at this stage whether that will hinder her in Turkey this week.
The favourite to win the event and my idea of the winner is Petra Kvitova. She struggled to maintain her form after winning the Wimbledon title in July but looked back to her best when winning the WTA title in Linz two weeks ago. She beat Dominika Cibulkova in the final and that player won her first singles title in Moscow last week.
Kvitova has an average head to head record against the three players she will face in the round-robin part of the tournament this week. She will open the tournament against Zvonareva at 1500 BST on Tuesday.
These two players have faced each other five times during the course of their respective careers over the last three years. Zvonareva leads the head to heads by three matches to two. Kvitova has only beaten her first opponent this week on clay. She has won all her matches against common opponents while Zvonareva has won two from three crossover matches.
The match that will probably decides who is to win the red group is between Kvitova and Wozniacki and this looks like being a close affair. Wozniacki has won three of the four match-ups between the pair, though Kvitova beat her at Wimbledon last year for the loss of just two games.
Not one of the four meetings between these players has gone to a deciding set and Wozniacki has not dropped a single set against her opponent in the three matches not played at Wimbledon. There have just been four crossover matches this season and both players have won 50% of matches against common opponents.
Kvitova showed at Wimbledon that she has the ability and temperament to compete at the highest level. She is a powerful player with a solid all court game and she can continue her career progression by lifting the trophy in Turkey at the weekend.
WTA Championships Istanbul – Winner Petra Kvitova at 4.7 with Betfair