Today was a big day in Istanbul. Defending champion Petra Kvitova withdrew from the Championships because of a viral illness that she seems to have had--on and off--all season. Kvitova has been ill so much that thinking about it only leads one to ask the same question (though perhaps in a somewhat different context) as always: What's wrong with Petra?
Sam Stosur, the first alternate, will now step into Kvitova's place in the White Group.
World number 1 Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber gave the crowds something to really cheer about today. The players competed for over three hours in a very high quality and thrilling match. Kerber took the first set and held two match points on Azarenka's serve in the second, but Azarenka was able to turn that set around and go on to win the match.
The first set alone was exhausting to watch, as Kerber saved five set points and won the set in a tiebreak on her sixth set point.
Azarenka's 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 victory could turn out to be the defining match of the tournament. At any rate, it was a memorable one.
Not to be outdone, Maria Sharapova and her some-time nemesis, Agnieszka Radwanska, also went three sets and played for over three hours in the early morning hours in Istanbul. It was another outstanding match, with Sharapova surviving (5-7, 7-5, 7-5) to reach the semifinals.
And while it wasn't that pretty, Serena Williams defeated Li Na 7-6, 6-3 in today's only Red Group action.
Here are the standings so far:
Victoria Azarenka. 1-0
Serena Williams, 2-0
Angelique Kerber, 0-2*
Li Na, 1-0
Maria Sharapova, 2-0
Agnieszka Radwanska, 1-1
Petra Kvitova, 0-1, withdrawn from competition
Sara Errani, 0-1
Samantha Stosur (first alternate), 0-0
*It's worth noting that Kerber drew the ultimate short straw, in that she got Williams and Azarenka as her first two opponents. And while she may have lost today, the German star was most impressive.
Stosur will play for the first time tomorrow; she gets Errani in the final match of the day.
Kerber plays Li tomorrow, and then--once again--Azarenka plays Williams. The world number 1's two big challenges on the tour have been playing Kvitova and Williams. Azarenka lost to Williams in the U.S. Open final, and the fact that these two will meet again in tomorrow's round-robin play probably cannot be over-promoted. Williams is the favorite, of course, but who doesn't want to see them go at it again?