The only former champion in the field, Maria Sharapova, looks somehow blocked during this week’s WTA Championships and after losing to Samantha Stosur for the first time in their ten matches, the Russian fell to Li Na the following day 7-6 (4) 6-4.
The third White Group round-robin match of the tournament was long and unpredictable, as both Sharapova and Li had big ups and downs. Also, they piled up a total of 74 unforced errors, 37 each!
First it was Sharapova who led, 4-2, but then Li took charge and forced a tiebreak, their first in eighteen sets they played, and after Sharapova’s 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, Li stormed to 7-4 to win the set. The second set was also undecided. At 5-2 for Li, Sharapova broke her opponent’s serve, and you can never count Sharapova out. However, the Russian wasn’t even close to her best and Li eventually won 7-6(4) 6-4.
The 2004 champion Sharapova is so far the biggest disappointment of the tournament, and we don’t know how much of it is due to her very recent ankle injury. The former world No.1, now ranked No.2, was the biggest Caroline Wozniacki’s competitor for the top ranking. All the Dane has to do now to secure her year-end top spot is to beat Vera Zvonareva in the match they’ve just started. (photo: Esther Lim)