WTA Championships Day 2 preview

Wednesday October 26th, 2011

Day 2 at the WTA Championships in Istanbul starts with some big matches for the White Group and finishes with a couple of counterpunchers. Matches begin at 10 a.m. ET (5 p.m. local time).

Victoria Azarenka vs. Samantha Stosur: History says this is Azarenka's to win. Stosur is 0-4 against the Belarusian, who captured her third title of the year in Luxembourg on Sunday without dropping a set. In fact, in their last two meetings, Stosur won no more than five games, losing 6-2, 6-3 last year in Stanford and 6-1, 6-0 the year before in Miami.

Whether Azarenka's had time to adjust to the slow courts in Istanbul will be a big question. Stosur showed Tuesday that she could handle the slow Rebound Ace surface. The Aussie is also confident knowing that she's already beaten a player who plays a similarly aggressive style in Maria Sharapova. A win would not only get another monkey off her back but also put her in the driver's seat to qualify for the semifinals.

Maria Sharapova vs. Li Na: No player has more question marks surrounding her this week than Li. She has completely fallen off the radar after making the finals at the Australian Open and winning her first career major at the French Open. Li comes in with very little match play and minimal confidence. She hasn't won a match, let alone a set, since mid-August in New Haven, Conn.

While she may not have the form, Li does have the quality. She's won her last three meetings against Sharapova (all on grass or clay), though Sharapova leads their head-to-head 5-3 and has won all three matches on hardcourts in straight sets. Sharapova showed her rust in a loss to Stosur, but she moved better than expected given her questionable ankle. This match will be key if Sharapova wants to escape the White Group and reach the semis. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Vera Zvonareva: A battle of grinders caps the day. Wozniacki, who defeated Agnieszka Radwanska on Day 1, is trying to secure a second win in round-robin play to take control of the Red Group. Zvonareva is still nursing a shoulder injury that forced her out of Moscow, and she admitted to feeling slow around the court in Tuesday's loss to Petra Kvitova. The two have split their eight meetings, with Zvonareva winning their only clash this year, on the hardcourts of Doha. If Zvonareva is willing to be aggressive and get herself to the net, she could tip the match in her favor.

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