Beijing Day 6 Preview
Published October 03, 2012 09:21
BEIJING, China - The last four third round matches at the China Open will be played on Thursday, and the local fans are sure to take extra delight in an all-Chinese match-up. World No.1 Victoria Azarenka and World No.2 Maria Sharapova are also on the schedule.
Thursday, Third Round
National Tennis Stadium
 Li Na (CHN #8) vs. Peng Shuai (CHN #49)
Head-to-head: Li leads 3-1
Two of the players who helped put Chinese tennis on the map will have their first WTA showdown on Chinese soil. Li Na's 2004 triumph in Guangzhou was the first WTA title won by a Chinese player. She participated in the first all-Chinese final in WTA history at Estoril in 2006. She was the first Chinese player to win a Premier-level title with her victory at Sydney in 2011. Her career-high ranking of No.4, first achieved in June 2011, is the highest ranking a Chinese player has achieved. Finally, she was not just the first Chinese player, but the first Asian, to win a Grand Slam title with her 2011 French Open championship.
As for Peng Shuai, she became the first Chinese woman to reach the semifinals at a Premier event at San Diego in 2005. Also, her career-high ranking of No.14 - achieved in August 2011 - made her the second-highest-ranked Chinese player ever. After falling in straight sets in her first three encounters with Li, Peng won their most recent clash - at Indian Wells in 2011. The winner will be two matches away from becoming Beijing's first Chinese finalist, but World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska awaits in the quarters.
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #1) vs. [Q] Elena Vesnina (RUS #78)
Head-to-head: Azarenka leads 2-0
Victoria Azarenka failed to win consecutive matches in each of her three previous appearances in Beijing. However, she looks to be in fine form this year, having dropped just seven games in two matches - best in the field of all players without a bye. On top of that, she has now won 10 of her past 11 matches, her lone defeat during that period a narrow one in the US Open final against Serena Williams.
Third round opponent Elena Vesnina is looking for her fifth Top 10 win, having beaten then-No.7 Svetlana Kuznetsova at Dubai in 2009, No.9 Vera Zvonareva and No.8 Francesca Schiavone at Sydney in 2010 and Samantha Stosur at Charleston in 2011. She is 0-5 against World No.1s.
 Angelique Kerber (GER #6) vs.  Caroline Wozniacki (DEN #11)
Head-to-head: Tied 2-2
Angelique Kerber would appear to be the favorite in her third round tilt with Caroline Wozniacki, as she is the WTA's match wins leader in 2012 with 59. And she has won her two most recent meetings with Wozniacki, including in the Copenhagen final earlier this year.
However, Wozniacki has been the hotter player during the Asian swing, having won 10 of 11 matches in Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing. In fact, she secured her first title in over a year in Seoul. The 2010 Beijing champion has been pushed here, though, going three sets in both matches so far.
Around the grounds…
World No.2 Maria Sharapova squares off with Slovenian No.1 Polona Hercog, who rallied from a 5-1 third set deficit in her second round win over Ekaterina Makarova on Wednesday.
For more on today's matches, see our Match Notes in the Press Center.