By Erik Gudris / Thursday, October 24, 2013
Top seed Serena Williams continued her domination of the WTA Championships this week. Li Na and Angelique Kerber both helped their semifinal chances with wins today.
Photo Credit: AP
That's the best word to describe Day 3 at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships. For the fans, many looked forward to a highly touted battle of two of the tour's biggest hitters. But for one player in particular, her quick exit from Istanbul may have been a sign that she was all too ready for her long season to end.
Fresh off of her surprise win against Victoria Azarenka on Wednesday, Jelena Jankovic looked to repeat her success under the lights. Facing Li Na in White Group round robin play, Jankovic hoped to avoid a straight sets drubbing like the one she received from the Chinese star earlier in the summer at the US Open when they last met.
But it was Li who once again took control early as she won 15 of the first 18 points in the opening set with aggressive hitting that kept Jankovic running. The Serbian managed to finally get her game going, but it wasn't enough to stop Li from securing the set 6-3.
Jankovic jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the second set. But with both women trading breaks of serve, the set was up for grabs. That was until Jankovic broke Li again to take hold of a 4-2 lead. Now looking more confident of her chances, Jankovic wrapped up the 6-2 set with yet another big backhand return winner.
With the winner of this match set to become the overall leader in the White Group, the third set became a fascinating duel of contrasts. After being shaken in the second set, Li returned to her aggressive game plan from earlier. A pop up volley from Jankovic while down break point set up an easy passing shot winner for Li to take a 2-1 lead. But Jankovic wasn't done yet. Down 1-3, the Serb used her trademark defensive skills to claw back to 3-all. But again Li responded with more deep hitting when it mattered.
Taking another break, Li climbed to 5-3. Serving to stay in the match, Jankovic saved one match point with a signature down the line backhand winner. But on the second match point, more deep hitting from Li forced Jankovic to net a final backhand.
Li celebrated the well-earned 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win that puts her into the lead in the White Group standings at 2-0.
Kerber Rolls Radwanska in Under an Hour
For Angelique Kerber, having a day off appeared to allow the German to hit the "reboot" button after suffering a quick loss to Serena Williams earlier in the week. Agnieszka Radwanska, playing in her third straight match of the week, didn't look as fresh, though. That combination added up to a one-sided match.
Already 0-2 in round robin play, Radwanska had a dim chance to reach the semis. But a win against Kerber would have secured a year-end No.3 ranking. That prospect didn't seem to motivate Radwanska against Kerber, who leapt out to an early lead in the opening set.
A disgruntled Radwanska, facing another break point a few games later, tossed in a double fault. That helped propel Kerber to a 5-2 advantage.
Seventeen winners later, Kerber took the set 6-2.
The pattern didn't change in the second set as Radwanska failed to make any dent in Kerber's onslaught. A total of 31 winners later, Kerber cranked up a final ace to close out the comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 win in just 56 minutes.
The win for Kerber keeps her hopes alive of reaching the semis. The loss for Radwanska means she is out of the event and her season now at an end.
Failing to win a set all week in Istanbul, Radwanksa later sent out this message on Twitter to sum up the day.
Williams Nearly Perfect Versus Kvitova
In the most anticipated match of the day, top seed Serena Williams took on Petra Kvitova in a showdown of the two most in-form players so far at Istanbul.
Hoping to notch her first ever win over Williams, Kvitova got off to a good start by holding three break points on Williams' opening service game. The No. 1 saved all of them to hold and then broke Kvitova to take a 2-0 lead.
And that's when Williams really upped her game.
Refusing to give Kvitova any real chance to challenge in the set, Williams won 15 straight points on her serve to open up a 5-2 lead.
Stunned by the display coming from the American, Kvitova tossed in a double fault while down set point to hand Williams the 6-2 set.
Though Kvitova played as well as she could, shots that would have been winners against anyone else came back with interest from Williams. After saving a break point against her early in the second set, Williams secured another key break in the next game when Kvitova netted a forehand.
Kvitova did manage to win one of the few extended baseline rallies late in the set. But that would be one of her few good moments as Williams prepared to serve for match and the semis while up 5-3. Williams again brought the heat with her serve and soon held two match points.
A netted forehand return from Kvitova ended the evening with Williams again the victor 6-2, 6-3.
Williams hit a total 27 winners, 11 aces and only 13 unforced errors in the stellar effort that puts her at 3-0 in group play and secured her spot in the semifinals.
Kvitova still has a chance to make the semis herself depending on her result against Kerber in their match Friday. The White Group is very much up for grabs with Azarenka facing Li, while Jankovic will meet Errani.