On Sunday night, the official draw ceremony took place at the $4.9-million WTA Championships in Istanbul, dividing the eight players into two round-robin groups. Serena Williams is the only multiple champion at the year-end finale and is 35-5 against the rest of the field combined (9-1 this season), while Sara Errani is 4-23 and is the only one with a negative head-to-head record against all the three players in her group. Let's have a closer look at the draw.
RED GROUP: (1) Victoria Azarenka, (3) Serena Williams, (5) Angelique Kerber, (8) Li Na
World No.1 Victoria Azarenka is a leader in match wins this season with 67, she's also a title leader with six (tied with Serena Williams), and this fall she's been 13-0 in matches and 26-0 in sets. Serena is fifth in the list of match wins this season with 53, even though inactive this fall, and has a stunning 10-1 head-to-head record against Azarenka. Moreover, two Grand Slams and the Olympics are among Serena's six 2012 titles and three of the six she won without losing a set.
First-time WTA Championships qualifier Angelique Kerber is coming off a right foot injury. Interestingly, she's the only player in the draw who has defeated Serena this year, in the quarterfinals of Cincinnati 6-4 6-4, in fact, only against Serena she doesn't have a negative career record in the Red Group. Of all the eight players in the field, only Li did not reach a semifinal at Grand Slams this season, actually, her best showings were two fourth rounds.
WHITE GROUP: (2) Maria Sharapova, (4) Agnieszka Radwanska, (6) Petra Kvitova, (7) Sara Errani
Defending champion Petra Kvitova is in this group. Last year she played the tournament for the first time and went 5-0. She's 3-0 against Agnieszka Radwanska and 3-0 against Sara Errani, but 2-4 against Maria Sharapova, although the indoor venue could be considered an advantage for Kvitova.
Sara Errani is the only player in the field with negative head-to-head record against all the three remaining players in her group. Just like Kerber in the Red Group, Sara Errani is the first-time qualifier and is coming off an injury, a left thigh one.
Agnieszka Radwanska was lucky that both Victoria Azarenka and Li Na, against whom she has a 0-6 and 1-3 record this season (that's seven of Radwanska's 17 losses in 2012), are in the other group. However, whether Radwanska will come out on top against Sharapova and Kvitova is a big question.
The tournament begins on Tuesday, October 23. Samantha Stosur and Marion Bartoli are alternates and will step in if some of the eight players withdraw. (photos: © Neal Trousdale)