The Telegraph
Thursday , October 27 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Injured Maria Sharapova pulls out
Maria Sharapova, after losing to Samantha Stosur, on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Istanbul: Maria Sharapova pulled out of the WTA Championships with a sore ankle, on Wednesday, after losing her second straight match at the season-ending tournament.

Sharapova entered the tournament despite not having played since pulling out of the quarter finals in Tokyo last month with an ankle injury.

After losing 7-6 (4), 6-4 to Li Na in her second round-robin match, on Wednesday, Sharapova said, “The ankle didn’t recover as well as I had hoped after the first round.”

In another match, Samantha Stosur came crashing back to earth when the Australian was crushed in her second match by a fired-up Victoria Azarenka.

Less than 24 hours after recording a first victory in 10 attempts over Sharapova to open her white group campaign, Stosur failed to trouble Azarenka, losing 6-2, 6-2 to the Belarusian in the Sinan Erdem Arena.

Azarenka, who did not play on Tuesday, looked far fresher than the US Open champion, keeping the 27-year-old on the back foot with searing groundstrokes, most of which were accompanied by her trademark whine.

Stosur’s heavy topspin and slice had little effect on the bright green and purple indoor court and she never looked like breaking a second jinx, slipped to a fifth loss in five against world number four Azarenka in one hour and 18 minutes.

All is not lost, however, as Stosur can still qualify for the semi-finals if she beats China’s Li Na in her last round-robin match.

On Tuesday, Caroline Wozniacki gave another gritty demonstration of why she has enjoyed a virtual year-long stranglehold on the world No. 1 ranking with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Agnieszka Radwanska in her opening match.

The pugnacious 21-year-old Wozniacki is inching closer to a second consecutive year end at the top of the tree despite still waiting for a Grand Slam title.

Her hard-fought victory meant Denmark’s most-photographed athlete, not least because of her romance with Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, joined Petra Kvitova, who has an outside chance of de-throning Wozniacki, at the top of Red Group.

Czech leftie Kvitova, whose stunning Wimbledon triumph helped power her up to third on the latest WTA ranking list, showed a few early and late nerves on her tournament debut as she opened proceedings inside Istanbul’s cavernous Sinan Erdem Dome with a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Russia’s Vera Zvonareva.

Wozniacki, whose unerring consistency has earned her a total of 54 weeks as No.1, was made to play catch-up against Radwanska who gained the initiative early with some beautifully-timed effortless winners.

Catch up she did, however, moving 0-40 ahead when Radwanska served at 4-5 in the first set only to blow all three set points. World No. 8 Radwanska seized on her let-off, breaking in the following game and then clubbing away a forehand to pocket a 64-minute first set.

With her father Piotr offering some animated words of wisdom at virtually every change of ends, Wozniacki reeled off four games from 2-2 in the second set to level the match and appeared to be in control in the deciding set when a stunning backhand winner to end a superb rally put her 4-2 ahead.

However, she gifted a break back with a double-fault in the next game and Radwanska, who had her right shoulder taped, began to play some inspired tennis to drag herself back to 4-4.

Wozniacki squandered one match point but a tired-looking Radwanska forehand into the net at 4-5 ended the duel.

Should Wozniacki win another round-robin match and reach the final she will be guaranteed the top ranking going into 2011.


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