The Sports Thread/The Live Thread #1 For 10/22/13 (Second Version): 2013 WTA Championships, Day 1

Second Version: Azarenka defeats Errani 7-6 (4), 6-2

The review is forthcoming at the word "here", but Azarenka needed that match, great first set even with all the breaks because they are great all court returners, and it will be interesting to see if Errani still plays her next two singles round robin matches, with the doubles' semis on Saturday looming. 

Next, it's Serena and Angie. Both are happy and relaxed to be here, but with Serena being relaxed, this will be a routine, calm win today. 

Preview here at TPN.

First match: Vika Azarenka vs Sara Errani

The live coverage is here, and everywhere else.

After the first seven games of the match, 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 Belorussian 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 Aga 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.  
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