TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, Istanbul, Turkey October 25-30

Wozniacki & Sharapova fight for World Number One Spot


The 2011 WTA Championships, the end of season event on the Tour, which sees the top eight players who earned the most points over the course of the season. The race for Istanbul was closed out on the final week of the regular season, with Pole Agnieszka Radwanska grabbing the final spot of the eight. The tournament, which runs from October 25 to October 30 for the first time in Turkey, will see the eight players split into two groups of four for the event, played in a round robin format. The top two players from each group then move forward to a semi final knockout. Last year’s winner Kim Clijsters is not in attendance, the second half of her season having been interrupted by injury. This is a tough field of eight to make tennis betting calls from, especially in the Red Group which is wide open. Although, when you start breaking down the draw and planning your predictions through the tournament, we can draw some conclusions. Tournament favourite Victoria Azarenka is worth of holding that mantle at the moment, but there is also the race for the World Number One spot between current holder Caroline Wozniacki and current number two Maria Sharapova. There is also a mathematical, albeit outside chance that either Kvitova or Azarenka could take number one spot too. TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships betting is pretty competitive and hopefully we will get to see a Wozniacki v Sharapova meeting at some stage during the end of season finale. Here we take a look at the groups, the betting odds, and the competitors for TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships betting.

Eight Qualifiers
1st Caroline Wozniacki, 2nd Maria Sharapova, 3rd Petra Kvitova, 4th Victoria Azarenka, 5th Li Na, 6th Vera Zvonareva, 7th Sam Stosur, 8th Agnieszka Radwanska.

Round Robin: October 25th-28th
Semi Finals and Finals: October 29th and 30th

Red Group: Wozniacki, Kvitova, Zvonareva, Radwanska
Really fascinating group, as Wozniacki and Zvonareva are the big names here, but Radwanska and Kvitova are the form players. So this group could be wide open. Would still fancy Wozniacki getting through though, because she is tougher than a lot of people give her credit for. Out of the other, if they were all on top form, would back Kvitova as the Estonian as a much better all round game. She is more of a complete player and has an edge of aggression and power when needed. But Zvonareva has a 2-1 head to head record over Kvitova this year, including a comfortable recent semi final win in Tokyo against her. But then Zvonareva lost to Radwanska in the final there, so it’s really pick a name out of a hat.
Red Group Prediction: We’d stick with Wozniacki and Kvitova to battle through.
Red Group Winner: Kvitova 13/8, Wozniacki 11/5, Radwanska 4/1, Zvonareva 4/1 at Bet365
To Qualify from Red Group: Wozniacki 8/15, Kvitova 8/15, Radwanska 6/4, Zvonareva 6/4 at Stan James

White Group: Sharapova, Azarenka, Na, Stosur
Well, on paper Sharapova and Azarenka, the world number 2 and 4 respectively should qualify through this group. Don’t seem much form or threat coming from Stosur or Na. Interestingly the head to head between Azarenka and Sharapova is at three each, and they have met twice this season, both players winning one. Perhaps most notable was Azarenka win which was in the final in Miami on hard court. Sharapova’s win was a walkover due to Azarenka picking up an injury in the match in Rome.
White Group Prediction: Victoria Azarenka has the big guns and form to edge this group.
White Group Winner: Azarenka 11/10, Sharapova 9/4, Stosur 4/1, Na 8/1 at Bet365
To Qualify from White Group: Azarenka 1/3, Sharapova 4/6, Stosur 5/4, Na 5/2 at Stan James

2011 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships Betting Odds

Victoria Azarenka: 4/1 at Bet365
May be surprised to not see Caroline Wozniacki at the top of the betting list, especially in a field of eight players? Well, don’t be. Azarenka holds the favourite crown for the WTA Championships, because she is the one of the eight who has really ramped up her game over the second half of the season. She won last week in Luxembourg as well, making that her third WTA title of the year. She made it to the semi finals of Wimbledon, but that first Grand Slam title has eluded her so far. But she has grown so much in stature this year, is much more in control of her temper than she used to be, and maturing very well. The young Belarusian is strong off her serve, she is not one of the bigger flair players, but is a big momentum player. Has been plagued with inconsistency before, but she seems to be getting on top of that. If you are backing form, Azarenka is your woman. Holds a 9-1 match record over her last three tournaments (after withdrawing from Beijing with an injury).
WTA Championships History: 2 Previous Appearances, Best Result Round Robin stage
2011 WTA Championship Prediction: Finalist

Petra Kvitova: 5/1 at Coral
The big leftie fully fulfilled her potential at Wimbledon this year, beating tournament favourite Maria Sharpova in the final. Kvitova, who won in Linz recently, has picked up five titles on Tour this year, and is a tremendous ground stroke player. Her forehands look pretty much effortless and carry a lot of power, even though she doesn’t seem to hit the ball hard. Very good off the serve, yes, a little inconsistent at times, but has proved herself on Tour for most of the year. Had a bit of slump in form after her breakthrough Grand Slam victory at Wimbledon, but her recent win see her back on her game. Will always be a threat against the big guns and she makes her first appearance here. Her recent Fall series victory is what is keeping her short in the prices, but pretty good value as she looks to be in pretty good shape and confident.
WTA Championships History: First Appearance
2011 WTA Championship Prediction: Semi Finalist

Maria Sharapova: 7/1 at Victor Chandler
We saw the consistent, powerful best of Maria Sharapova this season, something we haven’t enjoyed for a long time. For all of her great form, she just couldn’t land another Grand Slam title this year, but did pick up two Tour titles in Rome and Cincinnati. She is the only player in this year’s eight to have previously won this end of season finale. That was back in 2004 though, and she has been quiet in the Fall series of WTA tournaments. She showed up in Tokyo recently, her only outing after the US Open, and she lost to Petra Kvitova in the quarter finals of Tokyo. She is going to be pretty rested though, but did pick up an ankle injury in Tokyo though, but has apparently fully records. On a whole, the 24 year old Russian, who seems to have been around forever, has arguably been one of the strongest, if not the strongest player of the WTA season. Surprised maybe she hasn’t won more titles when it has come to the crunch. Should be helped by being in the easier of the two groups, with Azarenka likely being the toughest challenge. Could end up as World Number One if she makes it to the final of the WTA Championship this week, depending on how well Wozniacki does.
WTA Championships History: 4 Previous Appearance, Best Result Winner 2004
2011 WTA Championship Prediction: Semi Finalist

Caroline Wozniacki: 7/1 at Victor Chandler
Not sure where the great, all conquering Wozniacki has gone. She has been one of the busiest women on the WTA this season, and she remains as the World Number One. She has earned herself a WTA best of six Tour titles this season, edging out Kvitova who has won five, but that first Grand Slam title still eludes her. It is something which she really needs, and really deserves to get under her belt. Wozniacki still doesn’t have the big gun, the big weapon to pull out of the draw when she needs it, she just does everything very well. Her defence is perhaps the most remarkable part of her game, and she is very tough to break down. She really had a dip in form after Wimbledon, but pulled it back a bit for the US Open, where she was overpowered by Serena Williams in the semi finals. In her most recent tournaments, Wozniacki lost in the third our of Tokyo against Kaia Kanepi, and then in the quarter finals of Beijing against Flavia Pennetta. Nothing too much wrong with Wozniacki’s game. She may be lacking a bit of confidence, her opponents may have found a way to combat her a bit, so this will be a test of her character in a tough field. She also has the added pressure of needing to make it to the final of the WTA Championships (and with winning two of her three round robin matches) to guarantee that she will hold the World Number One spot at the end of this week. Wozniacki’s long reign is under threat from Maria Sharapova, who could overtake the Dane is she reaches the final.
WTA Championships History: 2 Previous Appearances, Best Result Runner Up 2010
2011 WTA Championship Prediction: Finalist

Agnieszka Radwanska: 10/1 at SportingBet
The last player to book her spot at the WTA Championships, edging out Marion Bartoli in the end. This is officially the first time she has made it to the finals on merit, but she has been here before as an alternate player, playing one match in 2008 and 2009. Radwanska really hit the Asian swing of the WTA season hard, winning back to back titles recently in Tokyo and Beijing, which was pretty impressive and she holds an 11-1 match record for the fall series, although she crashed in the second round of Moscow last week. But she has earned herself three titles for the season, and clearly in a bit of form. Shot selection has been a bit of weakness for her before, but she seems to be getting on top of things, especially as late. Looking down the list, she would be one of the outsiders, but can’t be dismissed because of her recent form. She could make things interesting in the Red Group.
WTA Championships History: First Qualifying Appearance
2011 WTA Championship Prediction: R/R

Vera Zvonareva: 12/1 at SportingBet
The Russian is another one of those players who has not lived up to their form of 2010. While the likes of Azarenka and Kvitova have really pushed on, Zvonareva has appeared to stand still just a little bit. Not sure why totally, but she knows she hasn’t raised her game enough. She hasn’t look quite as fired up for her matches as she was last year.  Still, she has earned herself two WTA titles this year, perhaps not against the strongest fields, and her best run at a Grand Slam was to the semi’s of the Australian Open at the start of the year. She has had some battles this season against lower class opposition, so it will be interesting to see how she fares against this tough field. Would never totally dismiss her, but failing to win in Moscow on her home turf last week, losing out against youngster Dominika Cibulkova in the quarter finals, was a blow for Zvonareva’s confidence. It is going to be a tough group for her to pull through.
WTA Championships History: 3 Previous Appearances, Best Result Runner Up 2008
2011 WTA Championship Prediction: R/R

Sam Stosur: 16/1 at Bet365
This year’s surprise US Open winner. The Australian always seems to be on the fringe of things, and when you scan competitive tournament fields for shock upsets, you kind of always look to her to be a victim. She clearly has game, because she won a Grand Slam, but she really doesn’t have the power, nor the consistency of the likes of Sharapova or Wozniacki over sustained periods of times to really rack up titles. The US Open has been her only title on the tour this year, and her Fall series record is nothing to write home about either, losing in the second round of both Tokyo and Beijing. Tough group for her, because she has never beaten Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka before in her career.
WTA Championships History: 1 Previous Appearance, Best Result Semi Final 2010
2011 WTA Championship Prediction: R/R

Li Na: 28/1 at Sportingbet
The Chinese star started the year so strongly, reaching the final of the Australian Open, and then went one better at the French Open, winning her first career Grand Slam title. Na is a flat, powerful hitter, who really puts tremendous power in her shots. However, she remains inconsistent, for example not making an impact in the other two Grand Slams of the year, and her only appearance in the Fall series was a first round exit in Beijing. She has the capability of pulling off upsets with her power, but doesn’t look to be in the kind of form, nor hold the kind of consistency to get her through this.
WTA Championships History: First Appearance
2011 WTA Championship Prediction: R/R