Top seeds and tournament favorites Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka opened up with victories on Tuesday at the WTA Championships at Istanbul.
On the first day of round robin play, three-time champion Serena ousted Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1. “I feel really good actually,” said Serena who has now won her last 11 matches at the event. “I think I served really well. She’s beaten me before so I was really a little nervous and so focused going into this match. I really felt like I had to play well to win today.”
The win also moves Serena past the $10 million mark in prize money for this season.
Also in the Serena’s RED group, Petra Kvitova got the better of Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4 in a crucial showdown. Kvitova, the year-end event in 2011, broke her rival in three of six chances.
“I feel really happy – it was a tough match for the first round,” the Czech lefty said. “I also lost to her in my first match here last year, so I didn’t have very nice memories against her here, but I just tried to stay aggressive today and not have many mistakes – I knew those were the keys to the match today.”
In the first match of the day and first played in the WHITE group, Azarenka ended a 3-match losing skid by beating Sara Errani 7-6, 6-2. The Italian, who’s now 0-20 against Top 3 players, led the World No. 5-2 in the first before succumbing.
“I think it’s pretty normal to have a slow start – I hadn’t played in a while, and to go out after a break like that against a Top 10 player is not easy,” Azarenka said. “Sara’s a great fighter. She was fighting for every ball and playing some great tennis. I was also missing too much, just some close misses.
“But all of the matches will be tough here, so it’s important to just find your rhythm. I turned it around. Sara makes you play every ball and brings every ball back, so it’s important to step up and close out the points. I did a good job of that today against her – but the accuracy could be a little better.”
Since the start of 2012, Azarenka is 99-1 when she win the first set in matches.
Serena and Azarneka both return on Wednesday as the round robin continues.
WEDNESDAY WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE
17:00 –  Na Li (CHN) V  Sara Errani (ITA)
19:00 –  Victoria Azarenka (BLR) V  Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
21:00 –  Serena Williams (USA) V  Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
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