On the way to Doha…

After another exhausting and long season for the top female tennis players, the top 8 for the year move onto Doha to battle it out for the season ending championships title. The final women’s tournaments saw Ana Ivanovic triumph in Linz without losing a set, Victoria Azarenka produce a powerful and commanding display in Moscow and Roberta Vinci end on a flurry as she defeated Anne Keothavong and Julia Goerges to win the Luxembourg title. Now in the penultimate tournament of the year, the top 8 women will battle it out in Doha. Unfortunately both Williams Sisters are unable to compete due to injury which i feel personally, has taken the gloss of this year’s event which on paper looks like one of the weakest line-up’s in years.
In the Maroon Group, newly crowned world number one Caroline Wozniacki will fancy her chances of winning her biggest title as she is paired with Francesca Schiavone, Sam Stosur and Elena Dementieva. Stosur has struggled for consistency in recent weeks and a French Open rematch with Schiavone will certainly be interesting. Dementieva should fancy her chances of progressing to the SF’s if she can put the injury that thwarted her in Luxembourg behind her. In the White Group, the new world number two Vera Zvonareva, is joined by Kim Clijsters, Jelena Jankovic and Victoria Azarenka. Despite Jelena Jankovic, who is the 50/1 long-shot to win and unlikely to pose a threat following abysmal recent form and ill health; this should be a closely contested group. Zvonareva has been consistently strong since Wimbledon and Azarenka who has had an irratic season, is coming off one of her recent highs following her win in Moscow. The telling factor will be how fit Kim Clijsters is as she has not played since the US Open. If she can pick up her form quickly, she should qualify from this one. I am also expecting that the last woman to qualify, Victoria Azarenka to make the SF’s so the match-up between Zvonareva and Clijsters could be crucial.
The Women’s game seems to be moving towards the new generation and i think that Wozniacki will win her biggest title of her career. I also hope that Azarenka, who has shown waves of promise but also a lack of consistency will end her season well and ready to tackle the Grand Slams next year with full vigour. Last year’s championships certainly brought drama but also a lot of injuries as the season petered out on a low note. It is a shame that the round-robin matches are put so close together not allowing the player’s a chance to recover. The competition gets underway tomorrow with Vera taking on Jelena followed by Caroline doing battle with Elena and finally Francesca squaring off with Sam… Here’s hoping for a solid send-off to 2010.
Predictions – Zvonareva to beat Jankovic in 2 sets, Wozniacki to beat Dementieva in 3 sets and Schiavone to beat Stosur in 2 sets

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