Vera Zvonareva should be clearing some extra shelves in her head about now, since Agnieszka Radwanska has apparently moved in. Today, for the fourth straight time, Radwanska beat Zvonareva, and the the third set was a drama unto itself. Both part of the Red Group in Istanbul, Zvonareva and Radwanska played a round-robin match that featured sharp changes in momentum, plenty of excitement (especially in that final set), and vastly entertaining shot-making.
Zvonareva, who looked determined to end her losing streak against A-Rad, efficiently took the first set 6-1. But any experienced tennis viewer knew to "stay tuned"--the scene would change. It did. Radwanska dominated in the second set and won it 6-2. The third set was the scene of rallies like this. When Zvonareva served for the match at 5-3, Radwanska saved three match points. All were dramatic, of course, but the third save was simply amazing. Zvonareva was broken, and Radwanska held her nerve and won the set 7-5 while her opponent appeared somewhat done in by the occasion.
Radwanska plays Petra Kvitova tomorrow. Kvitova, who defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2 today, has made it to the semifinals. If Radwanska can win one set against Kvitova tomorrow, she will advance to the semifinals. If Kvitova should beat her in straight sets, the semifinal spot goes to Zvonareva.
Wozniacki was not well today, and she saw both a trainer and a doctor after the first set. Clearly not herself, she continued to play, but Kvitova had an easy time of it in the second set. The Czech player did get tight toward the end, though, and needed three match points to close.
Wozniacki, by the way, ends 2011 as she ended 2010--as the world's number 1 player.
The other victory today went to the White Group's Victoria Azarenka, who defeated Li Na 6-2, 6-2. Azarenka was the first player to reach the semifinals. Tomorrow, she will play Marion Bartoli, the alternate who is stepping in because Maria Sharapova withdrew. Azarenka, who won in Luxembourg last week, has now won seven consecutive straight-set matches.
Also playing tomorrow are Li and Sam Stosur, with the winner going to the semifinals. Stosur has a 5-0 record against Li.
The Istanbul doubles draw was made today. Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik will play Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova in one semifinal, and in the other, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta will play Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond.