Stosur in semi-final as big names tumble
Kvitova favourite in low-key last four as the year-ending tournament looks like a damp squib
The women's season reaches its finale here this weekend but the six biggest names in the game will not be around to take part in it.
Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters never made it to the start line for the year-ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, and Li Na yesterday joined Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki in failing to reach the last four. Instead, today's semi-finals will see Victoria Azarenka take on Vera Zvonareva, while Sam Stosur will play Petra Kvitova.
Stosur secured her passage with a crushing 6-1, 6-0 winner-takes-all victory over Li. Zvonareva owed her qualification to Kvitova's 7-6, 6-3 win against Agnieszka Radwanska. Kvitova had already qualified for the latter stages going into her last round-robin match, while Radwanska needed to win only a set to deny Zvonareva.
Having won all three of her matches so far this week, Kvitova would earn $1.75m (almost £1.1m) by lifting the title in her first appearance at the year-end championships, which is almost as much as the 21-year-old Czech picked up after winning Wimbledon. Kvitova also has her eyes on the world No 2 ranking behind Wozniacki. Kvitova has already accumulated enough points to overtake Sharapova, the current No 2, but Azarenka could yet overtake both.
At this stage of the year fitness and form can count for everything. Sharapova withdrew with an ankle injury after her first two matches here, while Wozniacki has been unwell and looked decidedly below-par in the defeat to Kvitova that sealed her fate. Li did not report any physical problems apart from feeling heavy-legged but played poorly against Stosur.
While Zvonareva has won only one title – a minor event in Azerbaijan – since February, the three other semi-finalists have all enjoyed good runs in the latter half of the year. Kvitova, who suffered a dip in form after winning Wimbledon, bounced back to win a tournament in Linz last month, Azarenka came here fresh from victory in Luxembourg last weekend, while Stosur won the US Open and subsequently reached the final in Osaka.
Elena Baltacha, the British No 1, is through to the semi-finals of the $100,000 ITF event in Poitiers, France, after beating Poland's Magda Linette 6-3, 6-3. Anne Keothavong, the British No 3, reached the final of the Aegon GB Pro-Series tournament in Barnstaple thanks to a 6-3, 7-6 victory over Germany's Mona Barthel. She now plays Poland's Marta Domachowska.
The Braehead Arena in Glasgow will stage Britain's Davis Cup tie against the Slovak Republic in February. Leon Smith's team played their last two ties at the same venue.
ITV has agreed a three-year deal to cover the French Open beginning next year. It is the first time ITV has covered a Grand Slam tournament.
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