Women's Tennis: Previewing the WTA Championships Semifinals

Michael Ann McKinlayContributor IIIOctober 26, 2012

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - OCTOBER 21:  (L-R) Li Na of China, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Maria Sharapova of Russia, Serena Williams of USA, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and Sara Errani of Italy pose for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul on October 21, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for WTA)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

It was an exciting week in Istanbul, where the top women have been competing for the WTA championships in round robin matches. From Victoria Azarenka saving multiple match points vs. Angelique Kerber to Maria Sharapova battling it out until early morning against Agnieszka Radwanska—these championships have produced some of the best WTA matches this season.

Azarenka has already clinched the year-end No.1 ranking thanks to her defeat of Na Li, and looks to capture the title that will undoubtedly back up her ranking. 

However, Serena Williams and Sharapova went 3-0 in their respective groups and tomorrow will battle it out against Radwanska and Azarenka to earn a spot in the final.

Let's look at the two semifinals featuring the top four players in the world.  

Serena Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

Head to head: 3-0           

Last meeting: 2012 Wimbledon final, Williams def. Radwanska 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 

Although Radwanska turned a predictable Wimbledon final into an exciting three set match, don’t expect her to get her first win over Williams here. And it doesn’t help Radwanska that she is coming off a hard fought win over Sara Errani in three and half hours. Williams, though not playing her best, still has managed to win all three round robin matches in straight sets. The most convincing was her US Open rematch against the No. 1 player in the world, and even though she was down 0-3 in the second set, Williams turned her game around and defeated Azarenka 6-4, 6-4. Williams has proven to be the player to beat at these championships. Look for a quick semifinal. 


Prediction: Williams in two easy sets


Maria Sharapova vs. Victoria Azarenka

Head to Head: 4-7

Last meeting: 2012 Beijing final, Azarenka def. Sharapova 6-3, 6-1 

Here we have the most intriguing semifinal matchup; if you can get past the shrieking, this should not disappoint. Azarenka has gotten the better of Sharapova this year, beating her in Melbourne, Indian Wells, New York and just a couple of weeks ago in Beijing, but look for Sharapova to put up more of a fight than she did in China. The key for both of these players will be the first-serve percentage, because these players can punish second serves. Also, Sharapova and Azarenka have played marathon matches during the week, so fitness will be another key in the match. Both looked dominant in their final round robin matches, but in the end, it will really come down to who will want to battle Serena Williams in the final.  

Prediction: Azarenka in three very noisy sets