Tenaciously Tennis

Of Margaritas, Money and Mayhem at the WTA Championships

Put down the margarita next time, Maria. It seemed like your time to shine and reclaim the World No. 1 ranking at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, which began on October 25. That, however, was not to be with Petra Kvitova claiming the title over Victoria Azarenka. After dropping her first two matches in round robin play, the Russian withdrew from the event citing a left ankle injury she sustained in Japan weeks before.

As current World No. 2 Maria Sharapova, this year’s Wimbledon finalist, recently told reporters before the retirement: “I think I’m just fortunate enough to say that I’m here and I’m going to be competing. That, to me, is a big accomplishment by itself. The last couple of years at this time I was sipping a margarita on the beach and now I have another tournament.”

She continued: “It’s tough to talk about [No. 1] coming off the [ankle] injury in Tokyo and not even knowing if I’d be able to compete for the rest of the year.

At Istanbul, Sharapova had the chance to snatch the title from current top player Caroline Wozniacki. But by pulling out, the Dane, who’s been dating US Open golf champion Rory McIlroy, enjoys the achievement for the second year in a row.

And while the Russian chatted about drinking booze on beaches, Wozniacki offered more sober remarks about the top spot: “Of course when you’ve been No. 1 the whole year, you’d like to finish the last week as number one as well. That would mean a lot to me since not a lot of people have finished the year two times in a row as No. 1.” Congratulations, Wozniacki, for doing just that.

But this year’s WTA Championships, which saw the absence of this year’s Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters and 16-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, wasn’t only about Wozniacki and, previously, Sharapova. The competition was fierce and the predictions wonky as a cast of talented, but by no means dominating, women took to the courts.

Along with Wozniacki, reigning Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, who’s claimed three titles this year, 2011 French Open champion Li Na, two-time Grand Slam runner-up Vera Zvonareva, US Open titlist Samantha Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska, who’s won three tournaments since August and Marion Bartoli, after Sharapova’s exit, all vied for a chance at the year’s final trophy.

Azarenka looked to have the most solid chance of taking the title out of the above cast of women with a win in Luxembourg without dropping a set.

Plus, she made some noise off-court, too. She told reporters before the event kicked off: “[Money is] a good motivation and I’d be lying if I said that we just play for the love of the game and the points. You know when you’re down you think that it could be a bit more money and it might pump you up a bit.”

Well, it’s no margarita, but that kind of cash could be enough reason for the Belarusian to notch the biggest win of her young (and loud) career one day. This just wasn’t quite her year.

Congratulations to Kvitova on a huge win after a wonderful Wimbledon. Let’s see how the current World No. 2 fares in 2012.


8 Responses to 'Of Margaritas, Money and Mayhem at the WTA Championships'

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  1. […] read this post in its entirety, click here. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  2. Brigid McCarthy said,

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  3. Dean Daggett said,

    What I’d like to know is why not a single writer was brave enough to come out praising Kvitova two years ago, when she had already thrashed Venus and Dinara. Anybody who really knows stroke production and mental resolve should have spotted the preternaturally able Czech then. Few were brave enough until after Wimbledon this year, and even now, the praise is somewhat muted and diverted by all sorts of non-essentials about her not being celebrity material. Wertheim of SI wrote about Petra: “The WTA, the tennis tastemakers and the media (I don’t exclude myself) might wish for a more dynamic, quotable, transcendent celebrity figure. What a pile. Notice the word WISH. I’d say that this is a case of bad values. Even on those terms, quick, somebody, give me a quote by Ana Ivanovic, media darling. You cannot. Few succeed on that standard. Moreover, Kvitova is the most dynamic player on the tour. She hits every single shot in the book, including the forgotten chip lob and stop volley, and hits them well. As to transcendence, time will tell who is and who is not transcendent. Jeez.

    • Elias said,

      Not to defend a feollw Chinese, but if you question the Championship of Li Na at Roland Garros, you surely don’t understand French Open. Remember who Martin Verkerk is? Oh, yeah, Martin Verkerk, the Dutch, who beat so many top players with his big gun! Well, who is he before reaching the final of French Open 2003? Who is he after getting the runner-up? Remember how Gaston Gaudio won the title, by coming back from the brink of defeat while Gillermo Coria suffered’ a panick attack ? Many weird things happened in French Open. That’s why I gave up betting on this tournie long ago.

  4. Don McGriff said,

    Hmm. Methinks they want her to be a goddess to get their approval. Pitiful, ain’t it?

  5. Zoe Edgell said,

    Looking at that quote from the guy at SI a few things jump out.
    What he heck is a ‘tennis tastemaker’, as if the public accepts whatever the media guys spin. I get it that his three (un-fulfilled) requirements trotted out just for Kvitova are arbitrary to a great extent. And it appears that these guys have defined tennis more in terms of photogenicity, charisma, quotability and such than in terms of tennis skill and mental fortitude. Dear readers, make up your own minds. Ignore the pundits for the most part, for they know not what they are doing.

  6. Ben said,

    Hey all! Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate your reading.

  7. Anwar said,

    Hey all, thanks for weinhigg in on this. I was thinking: Is it good for the game that there’s no dominant player? It’s tough to predict who’s going to win and maybe this shows more parity.On the other hand, is it bad? Not knowing who really has a shot to winn could be construed as showing the talent level’s really watered down across the board.

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