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Azarenka Makes Linz Debut

Victoria Azarenka returns to Europe to finalize her preparations for the WTA Championships on the indoor courts of Linz.

Published October 07, 2012 06:31

Azarenka Makes Linz Debut
Victoria Azarenka

With the line-up for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012 now finalized, the next two weeks will see the eight qualifiers add the finishing touches to their preparations for the season-ending showpiece.

Some will head to the practice courts to iron out any creases in their game, while others, like World No.1 Victoria Azarenka, have elected to play one final tournament in search of that vital match practice.

Azarenka has traditionally played a European indoor event prior to the WTA Championships and this year is no different as she heads to northern Austria for the Generali Ladies Linz.

After her dominant showing in Beijing, where she romped home to a fifth title of the year, the Belarusian will be confident of adding her name to Linz's star-studded honor roll - since being upgraded from ITF to fully-fledged tour event in 1991, eight major winners have triumphed in Linz, including Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Ana Ivanovic and Petra Kvitova.

Ivanovic, who lifted the title in 2008 and 2010, is No.2 seed and one of seven Top 30 players hoping to upstage Azarenka at the Intersport Arena; joining her in the draw are Dominika Cibulkova, Lucie Safarova, Julia Goerges, Yanina Wickmayer, Tamira Paszek and Sabine Lisicki.

While Azarenka and company may be back in Europe, the Asian leg of the WTA calendar is not quite over. Samantha Stosur, Zheng Jie and a handful of other Top 50 players have made the four-hour flight from Beijing to Osaka to battle it out for the fourth edition of the HP Open.

As the site of her very first WTA title, Osaka is a tournament that holds a special place in World No.9 Stosur's heart and she is competing for the fourth consecutive year. Despite being out of the running for an automatic spot in Istanbul, Stosur will be hoping to cap off the year with some silverware, although with Zheng, Christina McHale, Yaroslava Shvedova, Francesca Schiavone and Laura Robson also in the draw she is unlikely to have things all her own way.

Two players in Osaka who do still have a shot at making it to Turkey are Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears. With two titles in the last month, the American duo are in the form of their life and if they reach the semifinals or better they will leapfrog Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova into fourth place in the race for Istanbul.

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