My motto has always been: Why be the best of the best when you can be the best of the rest? But apparently the WTA Tour and ATP Tour have other ideas about that. That is why we are having the WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul. The best eight players of the 2011 season will come together one more time to compete and show the world who really is the best of the 2011 season.
But even with a winner this year, how certain can we say that it is indeed the best player of the 2011 season? It has been a long season and I guess we can say that it is not so much about skill anymore at this stage but more about determination and will.
To analyze the tournament we will just go by seeds. From top to bottom.
Caroline Wozniacki (no. 1 seed)
Caroline Wozniacki was off to a great start of the 2011 season. She reached the semis at the Australian Open and won in Dubai and Indian Wells. She was ousted in the second round at the Medibank International but as the season progressed started the feel the pressure of being a slamless number one. And ofcourse she has been distracted by boyfriend Rory McIlroy as well. Losing in first rounds and midnight sessions with the boyfriend on her phone cost her dearly and she has not played up to her potential at all in the second part of the season and my guess is that she will have trouble getting past the round robin stage. Better luck next year.
Maria Sharapova (no. 2 seed)
Maria Sharapova is a special case. She has won three out of four slams in her career but the last couple of years and was a title favorite at the French Open 2011 after winning in Rome. She would have completed her career Grand Slam if she indeed had won the French Open. It was not meant to be as she was ousted by later French Open winner Na Li. Before Rome she was written off by many people who said that she will never win another slam or be that player who indeed won slams and while it has been a while ago that Sharapova won one, I wouldn’t write her off and in fact her bid for a next Grand Slam title could start right here in Istanbul.
Petra Kvitova (no. 3 seed)
While many people were surprised by her taking Wimbledon, I have to admit that I am not surprised at all. With a strong display in Madrid at the Mutua Open I was convinced that it was only a matter of time to see her win a Grand Slam tournament and it happened in London. Her statistics haven’t been great ever since that Wimbledon win but I saw her play a few weeks ago in Linz and I saw a strong and confident Petra Kvitova: A force to be reckoned with!
Victoria Azarenka (no. 4 seed)
Victoria Azarenka. I have long waited for her to win her first major but it is yet to happen. She is definitely a contender in any Slam she plays in but just misses that final piece. Nevertheless with great wins at the Sony Ericsson Open and great runs at the French Open and Wimbledon this lady just won’t give up until she has won that Grand Slam. And it can’t be soon enough for me. She has had a good run in Luxembourg by defeating Monica Niculescu in the finals. It looks to be a good rehearsal for the Istanbul tournament. It is too bad that Azarenka is prone to injury or she would have perhaps won tournaments this season.
Li Na (no. 5 seed)
Li Na was my personal heroine this year after she won the French Open. The first female Asian player but she kind of fell off the radar after that. With early round losses and simply returning to her sloppy form between the Australian Open and the French Open I don’t have high expectations for this great player. In fact I am hoping for a first round loss to put her out of her misery.
Vera Zvonareva (no. 6 seed)
Vera Zvonareva had two great seasons in a row in 2009 and 2010. She is not having her best season this year but I reckon it is tough to stay on top of your game for three years in a row. The season slump has already set in and her two consecutive losses to Agnieszka Radwanska aren’t doing her any good either. Zvonareva is not a contender this year but she may be able to surprise us with a win here and there. Who knows?
Sam Stosur (no.7 seed)
Samantha Stosur did what many fans hoped she would do one day: Win a Grand Slam tournament. She came close at the French Open a few years ago but the US Open fell prey to her this year and it was a great and well deserved victory versus hot title favorite Serena Williams. I am undecided if she can win the Istanbul tournament. Her stats after the Open win aren’t that good but I do hope that she gets her act together and shows us one more time this season why we cheered for her for years.
Agnieszka Radwanska (no. 8 seed)
Agnieska Radwanska is the lucky loser. She got into the tournament after Marion Bartoli decided to withdraw. Does lucky loser mean anything? It means that you are the underdog in every match and with that Radwanska can thrive under it. Just like she is the kind of top 10 player who always seems to fly under the radar until you see her win tournaments. She might just be the tournament revelation.
The groups are set
The players are divided in two groups, the red group and the white group.
The Red Group
The red group harbors the following players:
Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Vera Zvonareva, Agnieszka Radwanska
The White Group
While the white group contains the following:
Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Samantha Stosur