Doha Thurs: Can Vika Find Her Moscow Mojo?
Published October 27, 2010 12:00
Day 3 Preview - Round Robin
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 Samantha Stosur (AUS #7) vs.  Elena Dementieva (RUS #9)
Head-to-Head: Dementieva leads 4-2
So far this week Stosur has turned back the clock to her glorious spring, where her purple patch on clay culminated in her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros. Indeed, after her nervous start against Schiavone on Tuesday, the 26-year-old Aussie has grown in assurance, and after her imperious defeat of Wozniacki on Wednesday, she surely deserves to be considered a genuine contender for this title. While Dementieva holds the edge in the pair's rivalry, their last three matches have gone to three sets, with Stosur prevailing most recently in a nail-biter at Flushing Meadows. Given Dementieva's foot issues, another thriller may be too much to ask for, but you never know. Since her limp showing against Wozniacki on Tuesday, the 29-year-old has had an extra day to regroup, and she wouldn't take to the court unless she thought she had a chance. But her return game, one of the very best on tour, will need to be at its best to counter one of the top servers. Look for added interest as she strives to keep the points short.
Hot Stats: Dementieva is third on the list of active main draw hardcourt match winners behind the Williams sisters, with 282 to 135 losses (.676). Including this week, Stosur is 112-83 on hardcourts (.574).
 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN #1) vs.  Francesca Schiavone (ITA #6)
Head-to-Head: Schiavone leads 2-1
This is a must-win match for 20-year-old Wozniacki, the youngest player in the field, and also for Schiavone, who at 30 is the grande dame of this year's Doha line-up. As well as being separated by a decade, these two are chalk and cheese in playing style, which should make for a hugely entertaining encounter. No less energetic than her buoyant younger rival, Schiavone's essential challenge is that Wozniacki is the supreme retriever of women's tennis. That means The French Open champ will have to work her angles and spins to the max - and then some. It may help the feisty Italian, who started so impressively against Stosur, that Wozniacki's delivery isn't as good as the Aussie's - which in theory will allow her easier admission into more points. But if anyone can bounce back from the disappointment of a loss, Wozniacki can, and she'll stay out there all night if she has to. Which isn't to say Schiavone won't, especially with her semifinal hopes in peril.
Hot Stats: Should she triumph today, Schiavone will be only the second Italian to win a match at the WTA Championships, after Raffaella Reggi, who was a quarterfinalist in 1987. Including her loss to Stosur yesterday, Wozniacki is now 30-3 since Wimbledon.
 Kim Clijsters (BEL #4) vs.  Victoria Azarenka (BLR #10)
Head-to-Head: Clijsters leads 2-1
With a winning head-to-head record against all other seven players competing at Doha, a 15-1 record since Wimbledon, and a straightforward enough win over Jankovic on Wednesday, Clijsters - also the only former champion here - must be feeling pretty good about her chances of a third WTA Championships title this week. But the 27-year-old will know that she must serve better today than she did yesterday, as her seven aces were cancelled out by 10 double faults. This could prove fatal against a healthy Azarenka, one of the most potent returners on the WTA circuit, who happened to win their last meeting, at Eastbourne. For her part, Azarenka arrived in Doha on a high after her title run at Moscow, but it will be interesting to see whether the magic has evaporated after her loss Zvonareva, despite putting in a quality performance and being up a break in both sets. Hopefully she'll be sizzling and seething - in a good way - because if she is this could be a barnburner. Otherwise, Clijsters' experience and more varied arsenal will hold sway.
Hot Stats: With her round robin defeat of Jankovic on Wednesday, Clijsters became the eighth player to surpass the $20 million career prize money mark. After her match with Zvonareva, Azarenka is 4-6 in tie-breaks this season (but 35-25 in her career).
- Adam Lincoln