Doha Tuesday: Roland Garros Rematch Looms
Published October 25, 2010 12:00
Day 1 Preview - Round Robin
 Vera Zvonareva (RUS #2) vs.  Jelena Jankovic (SRB #8)
Head-to-Head: Tied at 6-6
While 2010 hasn't been Zvonareva's best year for trophies - six finals producing a sole win at Pattaya City - it has been, in just about every other respect, a corker of a season for the 26-year-old Russian. Breakthrough back-to-back Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open were undoubtedly the high point, and she arrives in Doha on a new career-best ranking of No.2 - with a shot at No.1 if she goes all the way to the title. By contrast, Jankovic has ridden a rollercoaster. The former No.1 won her 12th WTA title at Indian Wells and built a 32-12 match record to rise back to No.2 after Wimbledon, along the way becoming just the seventh player to beat the Williams sisters at the same event (Rome). But since then she has gone 8-14, including four losses to opponents ranked outside the Top 90. Illness was a factor in her defeat by No.268 Zarina Diyas in Moscow last week, so the 25-year-old Serb will need to be firing on all cylinders today. Both players boast great baseline games, but Zvonareva has the edge in aggression. She also has the momentum in their rivalry, coming out on top at their last three meetings.
Hot Stats: Zvonareva has been particularly effective when things get tight in 2010, going 8-4 in three-setters and 6-0 in tie-breaks. Whatever the ups and downs of her season, Jankovic is 4-0 against the Top 5 in 2010.
 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN #1) vs.  Elena Dementieva (RUS #9)
Head-to-Head: Wozniacki leads 4-3
Notwithstanding the pesky matter of Grand Slams, Wozniacki has been the form player of 2010, earning her rise to No.1 by playing by the rules - and winning most of the time. With six titles from seven finals and the most match wins (59), the 20-year-old Dane has been especially impressive post-Wimbledon (29-2 in seven tournaments); what's more, her 85% season win-loss record in three-setters is the best among the Top 40. Today she faces one of the elite against whom she has enjoyed some of her best success, in what is one of the most satisfying 'inter-generational' rivalries on the tour. Wozniacki has won the pair's last two meetings, but both matches went to three, most recently in the final at Tokyo. Appearing at the WTA Championships for the 10th time in 11 years, Dementieva will be keen to balance the ledger for more than one reason: The 29-year-old has only made it past the round robin once since 2003. After a tough year at the majors (bad draws, injury) this consummate pro should be doubly dangerous as she strives to finish the year on a high, although the foot injury that forced her out of Luxembourg could be a worry.
Hot Stats: This week Wozniacki has an opportunity to improve her 4-12 lifetime record against the Top 5 (1-0 in 2010). Among active players, Dementieva is tied in fourth place (w/Clijsters) for Top 5 wins - 30 (19 against Top 3).
 Francesca Schiavone (ITA #6] vs.  Samantha Stosur (AUS #7)
Head-to-Head: Stosur leads 4-2
These two Championships debutantes could be forgiven for wishing the event was being played on clay: not only did they both enjoy thrilling runs to the final at Roland Garros, they boast the best win-loss percentages on the surface this season (.870 for Stosur, .842 for Schiavone). While they haven't been quite as successful on the other stages, they are hardly one-dimensional, both having won titles on hardcourts as well. Stosur might like her chances this time, for the 26-year-old has beaten Schiavone in their last two matches on this surface, the last time being the final at Osaka in 2009. To succeed today, 30-year-old Schiavone will need to find a way to neutralize Stosur's famed kick-serve and overall power; this will be harder to achieve here than it is on the red stuff. After a post-Paris lull, the swashbuckling veteran has arguably made more of her season than Stosur has, but in the end it will come down to who handles the occasion the better. Both have been here before in doubles, but they don't need anyone to tell them singles is a very different matter.
Hot Stats: After V.Williams, Schiavone is just the second 30-year-old to play the WTA Championships since Mary Pierce in 2005. In 2010, Stosur has saved more match points before going on to win matches any other player - seven.
- Adam Lincoln