Victoria Azarenka admits there is still much work to be done at the WTA Tour Championships after beating Li Na on Friday to set up a semi-final clash with Maria Sharapova (Sharapova 7/4, Azarenka 4/9 Match Prices with bet365).
The Belarusian star’s final group victory means that, whatever happens in the remaining matches in Istanbul, she will end the year as the world number one.
She was made to work hard by her Chinese opponent, taking the first set on a tie-break before running out a 7-6 6-3 winner, and afterwards said it was “a dream come true” to secure the top ranking going into 2013.
The 23-year-old will be back in action on Saturday with a match-up against the player she kept off the top of the standings.
She owns a 7-4 winning record against Sharapova and is favourite to reach the final, but it remains to be seen how much she has left in the tank after three tough group games.
Waiting in the final will probably be Serena Williams, who faces Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday’s other semi-final and is an overwhelming favourite to down the Pole (Williams 1/10, Radwanska 6/1 Match Prices with bet365).
It would be easy for Azarenka to take it easy against Sharapova and bask in her achievements, but the Australian Open champion insists that there is still plenty of tennis to be played before she can reflect on what has happened in 2012.
“I just want to play my last matches of the year and then after that I can relax and enjoy this moment more,” she said.
“Right now I’m in competition and trying to focus on every single day – there’s still a lot of challenge in this tournament.”
Juan Martin del Potro (9/1 to win the end-of-season event with bet365) wants to end 2012 in style after he was handed a spot for the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
The Argentine boosted his chances of reaching the eight-man showpiece by winning his third title of the season at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna last week.
However, he was saved an anxious wait when Rafael Nadal (9/2 to win 2013 Australian Open with bet365) confirmed his long-standing knee problem would prevent him from competing at the O2 Arena in December.
The 2009 US Open champion admitted it was a bittersweet moment when he heard the news on Thursday.
“I’m sad for Rafa, he’s really trying in his comeback. But it’s not easy after such a long time away. I had the same feeling with my wrist,” the South American said.
“We miss Rafa a lot on the tour. He is one of the best players in history, he will come back strong.”
Del Potro joins Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych in the season finale, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Janko Tipsarevic, Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Almagro competing for the remaining two positions.
The 24-year-old is confident he can make an impact at the star-studded event.
“It’s only eight players fighting for one tournament. It’s the best eight players of the year, so it’s very important to me,” Del Potro added.
“I’m so glad to be there once again. I will be fighting against the big names and maybe I’ll have a chance to make another final.”
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ATP World Tour Finals | Tennis Betting News | October 26, 2012 15:10 |
Maria Sharapova insists she is looking forward to a break from tennis but not before giving it her all in the WTA Tour Championships (Sharapova 6/1 – Tournament Outright with bet365).
The 25-year-old went into the season-ending event as the world number two and she kicked off her campaign with an easy straight-sets victory over Italy’s Sara Errani.
She now faces Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in her second White Group clash on Wednesday, and victory will put her in pole position to reach the semi-finals.
Radwanska pulled off a shock on day one, downing 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets, and so one of the stars will lose their unbeaten record when they do battle in Turkey (Sharapova 4/11, Radwanska 11/5 – Match Prices with bet365).
Sharapova has enjoyed an excellent season with a march to the final of the Australian Open before completing her set of Grand Slam titles with victory at Roland Garros.
The 2004 Wimbledon champion reached the final of the London Olympic tournament and semi-finals of the US Open before going down to Azarenka in the final of the China Open.
It has been a long season for the Florida resident but, while admitting she is relishing the prospect of putting down her racket for a while, Sharapova has made it clear she wants to take advantage of her physical fitness to end the year on a high.
“This is such a great feeling, not only to make it here but to feel good physically,” she said.
“When you’re out here and feeling good it’s such a big motivation, and it’s the last tournament of the year too, so while I’m going to enjoy some time off after this, right now it’s all business.”
Tags: agnieszka radwanska, Australian Open, maria sharapova, Petra Kvitova, sara errani, serena williams, tennis betting and odds, US Open, Wimbledon, wta tour championships odds
WTA | Tennis Betting News | October 24, 2012 08:58 |
Two-time defending champion Andy Murray (12/5 To Win Outright with bet365) eased past Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-2 6-2 to secure his place in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters.
The British number one, who received a first round bye and then immediately progressed to round three when his scheduled second-round opponent Florian Mayer had to withdraw because of injury, showed no signs of rustiness as he romped to victory within an hour.
Murray adapted his game to see off the challenge of the Ukrainian, Dolgopolov, as he looks to build on his US Open success and eventually become the world’s top ranked player.
And, ahead of a last-eight date against Radek Stepanek (Murray 1/12, Stepanek 7/1 To Win Match with bet365), who beat big-serving American John Isner 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-3, he told Sky Sports: “I have started trusting my baseline game more and using slower serves and more variety and that has paid off.
“My first serve percentage has gone up and I have been able to dictate more of the points.
“Also, I have worked a lot on my second serve and when you trust your second serve it allows you to be a bit freer on your first.”
Laura Robson continues to impress, making it safely through to the second round of the HP Open, as the young Briton aims for the world’s top 50 this year (Robson – 5/1 HP Open Outright).
The British number one has truly announced herself in the women’s game in 2012 and continued to progress with a fairly convincing 6-4 6-2 first-round HP Open win over Greece’s Eleni Daniilidou.
Robson, who is seeded for a WTA tournament for the first time, edged ahead after a closely-fought first set in Osaka and then appeared to be on the brink of another good victory when 3-0 up in the second.
However, she let that slip to 3-2 and was almost tied 3-3 but managed to hold her nerve and ended up sealing the set thereafter 6-4.
Robson will now face Zhou Yimiao of China (Robson 1/7, Yimiao 9/2 – Match Prices) after she beat Japan’s Kurumi Nara and the 20-year-old will fancy her chances of another win to continue her impressive development in recent months.
The doubles Olympic silver medallist, who also made it into the fourth round of the US Open this year, is tipped to continue her improvement in 2013 and will target making the latter stages of the Grand Slams with Wimbledon the highlight for the London-based star next summer.
Andy Murray has targeted the number one ranking next year and wants to finish the season well to give him the best possible chance of achieving his goal, starting with the Shanghai Masters this week (Murray 1/10, Florian Mayer – Round 2 Match Betting with bet365).
The Scot has dismissed suggestions that he could climb to the top of the ranking tree in 2012, despite a hugely successful year in which he won his maiden Grand Slam at the US Open as well as Olympic gold at Wimbledon.
Murray is looking at maintaining his good form through the remainder of the schedule to put himself in a good position to reach number one next season.
Murray should be feeling good going into his second-round match in Shanghai having won the last two events there, and is determined there will be no let-up in his game.
“I’ll try to do as well as I can between now and the end of the year. If I do that, there’s a possibility to get to number one next year,” Murray said.
“I think getting to number one in the world, that’s more a reward for playing very good tennis throughout the whole season at pretty much every tournament you play.
“You need to focus more on the process and not so much just ‘number one, number one’.
“The next Grand Slam in Australia is obviously a focus that would be not that far away, but I would say it’s more of a long-term goal.”
Murray has twice reached the final of the Australian Open and can be backed at 5/2 with bet365 to go one better next year, although defending champion Novak Djokovic – who beat the Scot in five sets in the semi-finals in January – is the 11/8 favourite.
Roger Federer believes Andy Murray is capable of overtaking him and becoming the new world number one ahead of the Shanghai Masters (Murray 5/2 Australian Open outright with bet365).
The Swiss maestro is currently the top-ranked player in the world, a position he has become accustom to having spent more than 300 weeks at the top of the ATP standings.
However, the 17-time Grand Slam winner knows his time at the top will be coming to an end soon and has backed Murray to succeed him as the world number one.
The Scot said after winning his first Grand Slam at the US Open this year that his next aim was to become the world number one.
Murray is currently ranked third in the world, behind Federer and Novak Djokovic, but has a chance to lay down a marker in China this week.
The world’s top three players will battle it out for the Shanghai Masters crown this week, a title Murray won last year.
If the British number one can claim the championship again Federer believes it will set him up nicely for a vital nine months to come in his quest be number one.
When asked if he could become world number one, the Swiss said: “Yes, he can do it. He should be able to have that goal. He has results that back up his chances.
“His next nine months are going to be extremely interesting to follow. I hope for him he can achieve it eventually.”
Murray will face either Bernand Tomic or Florian Mayer in the second round in Shanghai, with Tomic 6/4 to make it through, while Mayer is 1/2 with bet365.
Top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are still on course to meet in the final of the WTA Beijing Open after winning their respective last-16 matches (Azarenka 1/25, Romina Oprandi 12/1 – quarter-final betting with bet365).
World number one Azarenka had no problems in defeating Russian opponent Elena Vesnina in straight sets on Thursday, coming through 6-3 6-3 in just over an hour-and-a-half.
The Belarusian looked solid, if unspectacular, for much of the match but will need to work on her second serve after nine double faults in the victory over Vesnina.
Azarenka will now face Romina Oprandi, who caused something of an upset in defeating 11th seed Ana Ivanovic in straight sets 6-4 6-3 in her last-16 match.
Laying in wait in the final for the Australian Open champion could be Sharapova if she continues her impressive run of form in China.
The Russian star needed just 74 minutes to see off qualifier Polona Hercog 6-0 6-2, winning the first eight games as she cruised through to the quarter-finals.
Sharapova’s serve was also firing on Thursday as she dropped just 12 points on serve, with 82% of her first efforts finding their mark.
The French Open champion insisted, despite the scoreline, it hadn’t been an easy match against Hercog.
“It wasn’t easy. I was up a set and a break and played a couple of loose points, and then all of a sudden my opponent started feeling better and more confident. But when you have a letdown, you just have to recover as fast as you can,” said Sharapova.
Sharapova’s quarter-final last eight opponent should provide her with a stiff examination as she takes on Germany’s Angelique Kerber. Sharapova is 2/5 for the win, while Kerber is 7/4 with bet365.
Such is the confidence of Laura Robson right now that she believes she can win matches without playing at her best as she secured a second round meeting with Lourdes Dominguez Lino at the China Open (Robson 2/11, Dominguez 7/2 Match Betting with bet365).
The 18-year-old climbed up to 57th in the world with her appearance in the final at the Guangzhou Open last week before qualifying for this tournament on Saturday.
The British number one made a sluggish start to her first-round clash with veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm but started to crank it up with some big forehands to reel off five straight games to take the opening set, before controlling the second to book her progress with a 6-4 6-4 win.
Robson took an hour and 21 minutes to secure the win and insists she was more than happy to come through the contest without being at her best.
“I’m feeling confident when I play at the moment. Even when I’m not playing my best like I was today I still feel that I am able to win matches,” Robson told AFP.
“I was a double-break down in the first set and I knew I had to get a lot better and start moving my feet a bit more.
“She’s a tough opponent to play against because she hits the ball very low so you have to bend your legs a lot more than I like to.”
Robson is not expected to perish against Dominguez Lino (Robson 4/7 to win 2-0 Set Betting with bet365) but must guard against complacency after the Spaniard upset world number 16 Roberta Vinci 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.
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Tennis, WTA | Tennis Betting News | September 30, 2012 13:43 |
The 2009 winner Rafael Nadal, available to back at 4/1 with bet365 in the outright betting, has said he “cannot say for sure” he will be fit for the 2013 Australian Open.
Hopes were high that the world number three would have recovered from a patella problem in his right knee in time for the first Grand Slam of next year in Melbourne, but the 26-year-old’s participation is under threat.
Nadal has not swung a competitive racquet since his shock defeat by Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June. He sat out the London Olympics for Spain and missed the US Open in New York City.
Now, the 11-time Grand Slam winner has cast doubt on whether he will be ready to usurp reigning champion and 11/8 bet365 favourite, Novak Djokovic.
He told the Daily Mail: “I hope you see me in Australia. That is the biggest goal for me, to come back just before then in Qatar, but I cannot say for sure it is going to happen.”