Vera Zvonareva defeated Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2 4-6 6-3 on day 2 of the YEC in Istanbul. Zvonareva played a stunning first set, the best I had seen from her all year as she took the game to Wozniacki, stepped up the court and moved her opponent around using the court superbly. Her stats of 18 winners and 9 unforced errors backed this up. The second set went with serve for the majority and although Zvonareva seemed to have the upper hand, Wozniacki kept plugging away. The Dane saved a break point at 2-2 and played a superb game at 3-3 to come back from 0-30 including a terrific smash. Wozniacki was still not playing her best, but she kept battling and forced the match into a third set as Zvonareva started to make a few more errors as the self-belief started to desert her.
Full credit today to Vera for executing her gameplan perfectly and keeping her chances of reaching the Semis alive
Zvonareva regained her composure in the third set as she raced into a 4-1 lead using her stunning crosscourt backhand to good effect. Zvonareva did have a stutter letting slip 2 games to 4-3; however Zvonareva finished the match in a flurry by holding and then breaking to love to claim the all important win. This was one of the best matches I have seen Vera play this year and she deserved it for her intent to take the match to Wozniacki. Her tactics were spot on just like in her triumph over Wozniacki in the US Open semi-final last year. Zvonareva hit 49 winners compared to just 13 from Wozniacki, who put up an admirable fight in the second set but ultimately never looked like winning the match. The middle set that Wozniacki won could prove crucial in her chances of reaching the semi-finals.
The match between Wozniacki and Zvonareva was by far the best on day 2; the other two matches were both disappointing. Victoria Azarenka produced a clean display to comfortably defeat Sam Stosur in a one-sided contest, 6-2 6-2. Azarenka was solid throughout the match hitting 16 winners to just 13 unforced errors. Azarenka also targeted the Stosur backhand and did not allow her to play her A game. Stosur committed far too many errors and only raised her level in the final game, which lasted 10 minutes. However the damage had been done and Azarenka completed victory on her third match point. Azarenka certainly lay down her credentials for this tournament and will have been delighted to have got this done in super quick time. The only question mark I have with her is whether she can stay fit following her victory in Luxembourg last week because she seems to struggle physically playing a lot of matches in a short space of time.
Azarenka’s win saw her installed as the favourite with the bookmakers just ahead of Kvitova
In the other match, Li Na won her first match in two months beating Maria Sharapova, 7-6 6-4. Sharapova later pulled out of the YEC citing a left ankle sprain although her chances of qualifying were effectively over and based on her form here, a royal thrashing would have been on the cards in her final game against Azarenka. Sharapova was up a break three times in the first set, but was forced into a first set tiebreak. Sharapova looked comfortable at 4-0 in this tiebreak but totally lost it at this stage losing seven points in a row, the majority with sloppy errors.
Li pushed forward in the second set to a 5-2 lead. She did have a mini-choke but eventually managed to finish it off. It was a pretty horrendous match and I couldn’t get excited about it after the first set; Li’s stats were actually the worst with 12 winners to 37 unforced errors (Sharapova hit 3 more winners) but she played the big points much better, which was a surprise for someone who had been so low on confidence. I now predict Azarenka to stroll into the Semis with Stosur following in 2nd place. Despite the win today, I still believe Li is well short of her best…
It was a bad match between Li and Sharapova, but credit to Li for winning it in straight sets
Predictions for Thursdays Matches:
Azarenka to beat Li in 2 sets
Kvitova to beat Wozniacki in 2 sets
Zvonareva to beat Radwanska in 3 sets