ISTANBUL, Turkey - With a flurry of down-the-line winners in the first and third sets, Vera Zvonareva powered past reigning No.1 Caroline Wozniacki to wrap up Day 2 play at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships.
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Zvonareva, the No.6 seed, was the clear aggressor in the match, going for her big groundstrokes - including some particularly impressive backhands - to take the first set in just 35 minutes. Wozniacki broke in the last game of the second set to push the match to a third but Zvonareva came alive again, racing out to a double-break 4-1 lead and barely looking back. The Russian, who just turned 27 last month, won the last seven points of the match to end it, 62 46 63.
"We always have tough matches and this one was very tough too, three sets as usual," Zvonareva commented. "I did well today. I played my game and went for my shots and was able to win this time. It was a great match for me."
Although both Zvonareva and Wozniacki are known for their strong defensive skills, the Russian's offense really shone through at the Sinan Erdem Dome - she had by far the bigger numbers for the day, 49 winners to 49 unforced errors (Wozniacki finished the match with 13 winners to 18 unforced errors).
Zvonareva collected her fourth career win over a reigning No.1. Her first three came against Maria Sharapova (2007 Indian Wells), Jelena Jankovic (2008 WTA Championships) and Wozniacki (earlier this year in Doha).
There was one big positive for Wozniacki, however - Sharapova withdrew from the tournament with a left ankle sprain after her match earlier in the day, meaning Wozniacki is guaranteed to finish the year at No.1, the second straight year she has finished at the top spot on the rankings.
"I tried to push the ankle as much as I could, I think it was just too soon," said Sharapova, who first injured her ankle in Tokyo a few weeks ago. "I didn't really have any expectations coming here because I never really had that type of injury before. It didn't recover as well as I had hoped after the first round. The swelling got worse and it's not something I really want to risk this late in the year."
Still, Sharapova wraps up a very positive season indeed, highlighted by two Premier titles and reaching the Wimbledon final. "It's disappointing to end it this way, but I have no regrets. I started the year barely in the Top 20, and I don't know what I'll be at the end of the year, but my game has stepped up. Going into next year there's so many things I can improve to make me even better. It's something I look forward to when I start training again soon."
The first two matches on Day 2 of round robin play saw Li Na dispatch Sharapova in straight sets, 76(4) 64, and Victoria Azarenka cruise past Samantha Stosur, 62 62.