The WTA year end championships begins today in Istanbul, Turkey, with the top 8 players competing in a round robin format. There are two groups (Red and White) of four players each, with the top two from each group moving into the semifinals. The Red Group is loaded up with world #1 Victoria Azarenka, red hot Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber (the tour’s leader in match wins this year), and Na Li. In the White Group, Maria Sharapova headlines with Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani.
In other news…
–Venus Williams won her first title since February of 2010, defeating Monica Niculescu in the Luxembourg final 6-2 6-3 this past weekend. It’s her 44th career title, the second-most among active players behind only her sister Serena.
–Caroline Wozniacki won her 20th career title at the Kremlin Cup last week, defeating Samantha Stosur in a riveting final, 6-2 4-6 7-5. Caroline built up a 6-2 4-3 lead, but the Aussie came storming back, winning five straight games, winning the second set and taking an early lead in the 3rd. ‘Woz hung tough and battled back to take the deciding third set.
Stay tuned this week as the world’s best battle it out in Turkey for the year end championships! Thanks for reading!
The biggest jump in the ATP top 50 rankings this week was 26-year-old Grega Zemlja. After making the finals at last week’s ATP event in Vienna, Austria, the surging Slovenian has vaulted himself 23 spots in the rankings to a career high ranking of #50. Grega had the best tournament of his career, gaining wins over Xavier Malisse, Tommy Haas and Janko Tipsarevic before losing in the finals to Juan Martin Del Potro.
However, even though this might be the first time you’ve heard of him, Zemlja’s recent success hasn’t come from out of the blue. His final’s appearance in Vienna has been a manifestation of the career year he’s been having in 2012. Going into the US Open, Grega won 10 of 11 matches and two ATP Challenger events (the equivalent of the “minor leagues” of the ATP). He followed that up by winning 5 matches at the US Open (three in the qualifying and two in the main draw), firmly placing him in the top 100 for the first time in his career. A little over a month later, he won 6 matches, two over players in the top 20, and has gotten himself into the top 50. Let’s keep an eye on the surging Slovenian in the weeks to come!
In other news…
–Novak Djokovic saved 5 match points in the Shanghai Masters 1000 final against rival Andy Murray and won his 5th title of the year. Don’t look now, but Novak has only lost two matches since the Olympics and has a firm lead over Roger Federer to end the year as the world’s top ranked player for the second year in a row.
–Tomas Berdych has continued his strong play, winning the title in Stockholm last week over fellow top-10er Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That’s the second time in as many weeks that the lanky Czech has beaten Tsonga, putting him in a great position to qualify for the year end championship in London in which the top 8 ranked players compete.
-Andreas Seppi won his second title of the year, taking the Kremlin Cup over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. The 28-year-old Italian has now won a title on every surface (hard, clay, and grass), and reaches a career high ranking this week of #22.
-This week, the ATP has two stops in Valencia, Spain and Basel, Switzerland before heading to Paris for the final Masters 1000 event of the year. Most of the top 20 will be in action jostling for the final positions in the ATP World Tour Finals in London in two weeks. With world #4 Rafael Nadal out, there are four spots up for grabs (with Djokovic, Murray, Federer, and Ferrer already in). Look for the action to heat up as the season comes to an end!
Thanks for reading!