In a rematch of their US Open final, the result was the same. Serena Williams dispatched world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-4 in round robin play at the year-end WTA Champions played in Istanbul.
Serena finished her round-robin routine undefeated and without the loss of a set as the Red Group champ. She’ll face the No. 2 player who emerges from the White Group.
“I’d been struggling with my serve in my first two rounds – I knew I could do better, so that was keeping me going,” said Serena who improves to 11-1 against Azarenka. “And everything was just a little better today. I knew I needed to play better today to win against Victoria, who has had a stellar year.
Having won 46 of her last 48 matches and all 12 contests with Top 5 players this year, it’s no surprise Serena can’t wait for Australia. “I can’t wait to get to Australia,” she said. “I wish it started next month.”
While Serena has secured her place on the semifinals, Azarenka faces Li Na in an elimination match Friday. If Azarenka wins she also clinches the year-end No. 1 ranking. If she loses then the door opens for White Group champion Maria Sharapova. The Russian is 2-0 thus far and would claim No. 1 by winning the title undefeated coupled with an Azarenka loss Friday.
“It will be a tough match – she’s No.1 in the world and has been doing an amazing job this year,” Li Na said of playing Azarenka. “I will try my best tomorrow and I hope I play the same like today, hitting the ball well and making just a few mistakes.”
Also today, Li Na beat a tired Angelique Kerber and Sara Errani beat replacement Sam Stosur. Stosur is next for Sharapova. Errani faces Agnieszka Radwanska for the right to play Serena in the semifinals on Saturday.
Semifinal scenarios: Serena vs. Errani or Radwanska; Sharapova vs. Azarenka or Na.
FRIDAY ISTANBUL SCHEDULE
Stadium (from 17.00hrs)
1. Maria Sharapova vs. Samantha Stosur
2. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Sara Errani
3. Victoria Azarenka vs. Li Na
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Sharapova, Azarenka, Serena Survive Wild Day At WTA Championships; Victoria Tries To Clinch No. 1 Ranking Thursday
Serena, Azarenka Open With Straight Set Wins At WTA Championships
Serena Into Semis, Determining Matches Friday at WTA Championships