By Andrew Jones
(October 22, 2013) After the first seven games of the match in the first match at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, it seemed Sara Errani was ready to show again to any of her critics why their negative comments about her are still unbelievably foolish.
With her all court skill and savvy at just 5’4, Errani’s level of shotmaking and versatility became the main story of the first set instead of Victoria Azarenka‘s search to reclaim her top two form. But as the case with Errani, having even two breaks leads in a set against the elite is not a guarantee for her, as the Belarusian came back to score a satisfying opening win, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
Down 5-2 in the first set, Azarenka found her consistency with her usual depth that was absent the first seven games. It came in the nic of time, as she started to anticipate Errani’s top class dropshots and raise her own level of serve to turn around the match.
Errani was clearly crushed that she couldn’t serve out the first set with two opportunities, as she ended the first set tiebreak with a brutal second double fault of her serve to give Azarenka the full escape out of trouble. That was a precursor to how the second set would go, as Errani’s ailing calf and achilles on her right leg were prevalent to all. She called for the trainer twice and received one medical timeout, but the 5th ranked player did not have any plans to retire from the match.
It will be interesting to see if Errani will play her remaining two matches in the White Group, especially with her having the first match again Wednesday against Li Na. With her and Roberta Vinci in the doubles’ semifinals, it would not be a surprise to see Caroline Wozniacki replace Errani as the first alternative.
Meanwhile for Azarenka, it was the type of tricky test she needed in order to end her three match losing streak. Errani is as eclectic as any top 10 player (and that includes Agnieszka Radwanska), and the world number two is fully cognizant of the fact that she won’t face anyone else as capricious as the diminutive Italian. She showed terrific movement and no signs of any ailments and showed, even on the notoriously slow indoor surface at the Sinan Erdem Dome, that she is still the favorite right after Serena Williams.