Wozniacki out as Azarenka and Kvitova advance

Fri, 28 Oct 10:55:00 2011

A weary Caroline Wozniacki was sent packing from the WTA Championships after losing 6-4 6-2 to powerful Czech Petra Kvitova in her final round-robin match.

Caroline Wozniacki - 0

The day after the Dane secured the year-end world number one ranking, she looked mentally and physically drained as Wimbledon champion Kvitova marched into the semi-finals with a match to spare in the Red Group.

Wozniacki, who has racked up 80 matches on the tour this year, needed to have her blood pressure checked after the first set and said after that she had nothing left in the tank.

Kvitova was joined in the last four of the season-ending event by Belarusian Victoria Azarenka who trounced China's Li Na 6-2 6-2 to guarantee a top-two place in the White Group, also with a match remaining.

Russian Vera Zvonareva blew her chance to secure a semi-final berth when she was ambushed by Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, squandering three match points in a 1-6 6-2 7-5 defeat that had the 11,000 crowd on the edge of their seats.

Needing a victory to go through from the Red Group, Zvonareva led 5-3 in the decider before Radwanska staged a thrilling fightback in the most entertaining set of the tournament.

"I was thinking that I had to push the ball to the other side (on the match points)," said Radwanska. "It gives me a lot of confidence to win a match like that."

WTA Istanbul - White Group

Zvonareva must now hope Kvitova beats Radwanska in straight sets on Friday. Any other result would see the Pole progress.

After two long three-setters in two days, a win against close friend Radwanska and a defeat by Zvonareva, Wozniacki proved no match for world number three Kvitova.

Having lost the first set the Dane quickly went 4-0 behind in the second and at one point almost missed the ball altogether on a first serve - the ball spinning embarrassingly off her racket and bouncing mid-court.

Some late resistance proved in vain.

"Petra played well," said Wozniacki who will end a second consecutive year as number one despite failing to win a maiden Grand Slam.

"I wish I could have been 110 per cent but my body just didn't want to do the things I wanted today. I've been feeling a bit tired and to get a little bit sick now, that's not the best if you want to beat the top players."

Wozniacki said the left-handed Kvitova, the first Czech to qualify for the year-ender since Jana Novotna in 1998, would be tough to stop on the bright green and purple indoor court that has proved much to her liking.

"She's playing very strong tennis, she's hitting it deep and hard," the Dane added.

The Dane - whose only win in the round-robin matches came against Zvonareva - looked in need of a holiday by the end.

The Belarusian Azarenka maintained the form that saw US Open champion Sam Stosur swept aside on Wednesday with the kind of hitting that justifies her standing as the new favourite for the tournament alongside Kvitova.

Li played better than she did in beating world number two Maria Sharapova on Wednesday, but still came up short against the superior movement of Azarenka, whose court coverage and depth of shot on a consistent basis was something to behold.

"I thank you so much for you support. The crowd helped me play so good," said Azarenka. "Li Na has a such a good return, but my service worked for me, and I tried to use it to my advantage.

"I just have to keep going from day-to-day, and working hard."

The world number four has dropped just eight games in the showpiece event so far.

With victories over two of the year's Grand Slam champions on consecutive days, the in-form 22-year-old is emerging as the favourite to take the title having failed to survive the round-robin stage on her previous two appearances in the event.

French Open winner Li, who had beaten Sharapova in her opening match, never got to grips with Azarenka's power and was often rushed into errors.

Azarenka was never threatened on serve and she claimed victory in one hour 32 minutes when Li sent a forehand long.

The winner of the White Group match between Li and Stosur, who play on Friday, will join Azarenka in the semi-finals.

"It's just like a normal tournament now," said the 29-year-old Li. "The winner can go in the draw and the loser has to go back.

"Yeah, it's tough. I think both of us will be fighting a lot."

Eurosport / Reuters

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