By Chris Oddo/ Thursday, October 24, 2013
Five players are in the hunt for three WTA Championships semifinal spots. Who has the best chance to
reach the last four on Friday in Istanbul?
Photo Source: Matthew Stockman/ Getty
Things got a little sticky in the White Group at the WTA Championships on Day 3—except for Sara Errani, who is out of the race for a semifinal spot and will now only be playing for prize money on Friday. And for Jelena Jankovic, Li Na and Victoria Azarenka, there is still lots to play for.
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There's also something to be decided in the Red Group, as Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber will square off in a battle for the semifinals.
Here's a preview of what's on tap for Friday in Istanbul:
Victoria Azarenka vs. Li Na
Head-to-Head: Azarenka leads 6-4
Azarenka has won the last five battles with Li, and she will need to make it six to earn a spot in the semifinals. The world No. 2 has made much of her end-of-the-year malaise, making comments about how difficult it is for her to focus at the end of a long year to the press after losing to Jelena Jankovic on Wednesday, but she'll need to snap out of it--and pronto--if she hopes to finish the year on a high note.
Li is playing with purpose thus far in Istanbul, and she appears ready to end what has been a long and unproductive run against Azarenka, dating back all the way to the 2011 WTA Championships.
If Li wins, she'll go through to the semis automatically, and even have a shot to reach No. 3 in the rankings with a surprise run to the title. Should Azarenka win, tiebreakers could come into effect if Jankovic takes out Errani in the day's final match.
Pick: Li in three
Petra Kvitova vs. Angelique Kerber
Head-to-head: 2-2 tie
The two lefties in the draw will meet for the fifth time on Friday. As their last three battles have gone three sets, expect a dogfight between Kvitova, who was ransacked by red-hot Serena Williams on Thursday, and Kerber, who came up with an inspired performance against a downtrodden Agnieszka Radwanska to win her first career WTA Championships match earlier in the day.
Will Kerber be able to build on the momentum, or will the former champion Kvitova bounce back from a one-sided loss to Williams? Neither player should be low on motivation as the stakes are high and the math simple: win and reach the semifinals.
Pick: Kerber in three
Sara Errani vs. Jelena Jankovic
Head-to-head: Jankovic Leads, 1-0
A resurgent Jankovic will bid to reach her third WTA Championships semifinal when she faces Errani in Friday's final tilt. But she better beware as Errani has nothing to lose and will surely be looking to end her singles season on a high note.
Jankovic can reach the semis straight-up with a win combined with an Azarenka loss to Li, but if she wins and Azarenka also wins, a tiebreaker between Azarenka, Li and Jankovic will take place.
Pick: Jankovic in three
Rules: Highest percentage of sets won is the tiebreaker, and if all players are tied, then highest percentage of games won takes it.
Here are the current White Group totals:
Li, 4-1; Jankovic, 3-2; Azarenka, 2-2
Li, 27-21; Jankovic, 24-21; Azarenka, 20-20