epa03424577 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus celebrates after defeating Maria Sharapova of Russia in their final match at the China Open in Beijing, China, 07 October 2012. EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG |
It’s rare a World No.1 goes six and a half months without winning a WTA title but it happened – but Victoria Azarenka put an emphatic stop to it in Beijing this past week, not losing a set, in fact barely losing any games, en route to the China Open title. She defeated Maria Sharapova handily in the final, 63 61, winning her fifth WTA title of the year and first since Indian Wells in mid-March. She now has 13 career WTA titles.
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina won their first WTA doubles title together, and the Istanbul field was also set in stone,with Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani and Li Na completing the elite eight.
Rafael Nadal got in some much-needed match practice on Monday ahead of his first-round singles match at the China Open, albeit in a losing effort. Nadal, who last played at Wimbledon before being sidelined by a wrist injury, teamed up with fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar and fell to Tomas Berdych and John Isner 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.
Missing among all the great headlines at the Red Rock Pro Open in Las Vegas this week was how the 24-year-old worked her way through the draw without dropping a set, including a dominating performance on Sunday in a 6-1, 6-4 final win over rival Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal to capture the $7,600 winner singles check at the USTA Women’s $50,000 Pro Circuit event played at the Red Rock Country Club.
Rafael Nadal's first-round singles match against Richard Gasquet is not on Monday's China Open schedule, but the world No. 2 will be back in action in a different capacity. After being sidelined for three months with a wrist injury, Nadal is teaming up with Pablo Andujar in the doubles draw and they will kick off their campaign against Tomas Berdych and John Isner.
We exaggerate, slightly, but in all likelihood, this will be the week the WTA Race ends. Beijing is worth 1000 points, and it's mandatory, meaning that it's worth about twice as much to the players as every other event. And with the top nine players, minus Li Na, qualifying for Singapore, and a big, big gap between #9 and #10, chances are very good that things will be over after this.