• WTA Championships

Azarenka and Serena to resume rivalry in Istanbul

Jo Carter October 22, 2012
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Going by grand slam results alone, the women have been more consistent than the men this year, which is a bit of a turn up for the books.

The current top three - Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams (2) - are in possession of the four major trophies between them, and they all will be looking to end the year on a high at the WTA Championships in Istanbul.

WTA Championships

Victoria Azarenka is the world No. 1 © PA Photos
  • Red Group
  • Victoria Azarenka
  • Serena Williams
  • Angelique Kerber
  • Li Na
  • White Group
  • Maria Sharapova
  • Agnieszka Radwanska
  • Petra Kvitova
  • Sara Errani

For world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who topped the rankings for the first time after her Australian Open victory in January, just two wins in the round-robin phase will be enough to ensure she will end the year on top.

It has been quite a year for Azarenka, who began the season with a 26-match winning streak and has bagged six titles, as well as becoming the first woman to win two Premier Mandatory titles in a season.

The Belarusian arrives in Turkey on the back of an 11-match winning streak with her eyes firmly on the prize, having been pipped in last year's final by Petra Kvitova. Azarenka's chances of victory is rated at 2/1 with bet365.

Perhaps the one player capable of stopping Azarenka is Serena Williams, who has also been drawn in the Red Group, guaranteeing the pair will meet in the round-robin stages.

Williams was virtually unstoppable this summer, winning Wimbledon, Olympic singles gold and the US Open, as well as a title in Stanford.

While Azarenka has bounced back from her US Open final defeat to Williams in New York with back-to-back titles in Beijing and Linz, Williams has not been seen since Flushing Meadows, but she is the red-hot favourite with odds of 6/5 with bet365

Cash in with Carter

  • Victoria Azarenka to win the WTA Championships - 2/1 at bet365
    Petra Kvitova to reach the final - 9/2 at bet365

Those who value their eardrums will be praying it won't be Azarenka versus Maria Sharapova in the final - but that match-up could happen in the semi-finals if one player wins her group and the other finishes runner-up.

Defending champion Petra Kvitova has struggled with consistency this season, but will always be dangerous on an indoor court - she is a tempting 9/1 with bet365.

French Open finalist Sara Errani may be the rank outsider at odds of 66/1 with bet365, but she is arguably the most likely player to leave Turkey with a trophy as she partners Roberta Vinci in the doubles.

With Azarenka and Williams both draw in the Red Group, Li Na (22/1 ) and Angelique Kerber (18/1) face an uphill battle to make it to the semi-finals.

Completing the White Group with Sharapova, Kvitova and Errani is Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, who at No. 4 in the world is expected to make the knockout stages, but her clash against Kvitova could well determine the outcome of the group.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Jo Carter is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk