Skip to main content

Sharapova maintains year-end No. 1 hunt

updated 5:14 PM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
Maria Sharapova returns a shot against Sara Errani as the Russian won her opening White Group clash at the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
Maria Sharapova returns a shot against Sara Errani as the Russian won her opening White Group clash at the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
  • Maria Sharapova beat Italy's Sara Errani in straight sets to win opening match in White Group
  • Defending champion Petra Kvitova makes 41 unforced errors as she is beaten by Agnieszka Radwanska for first time
  • Serena Williams returns to action for first time since U.S. Open win, beating Germany's Angelique Kerber

(CNN) -- Maria Sharapova kept alive her hopes of finishing the year as world No. 1 when beating Italy's Sara Errani 6-3 6-2 in her opening match of the WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul.

The Russian, who won the event in 2004, has called attaining the status her 'biggest priority this week' at the season-ending tournament.

The 25-year-old needs to win at least two matches in Istanbul while hoping that Victoria Azarenka, the Belarusian who currently holds the title of the world's best, slips up in the Red Group if she is to finish the year on top.

Sharapova, whose victory margin was identical to her only previous meeting with Errani, who she beat in the final of this year's French Open, was delighted to make an impact at the WTA Championships after injury forced her early withdrawal last year.

Read: Sharapova overpowers Errani to win French Open

Maria Sharapova's greatest hits
Graf excited about German tennis

"This is such a great feeling, not only to make it here but to feel good physically," the World No.2 told the WTA's official website.

"When you're out here and feeling good it's such a big motivation, and it's the last tournament of the year too, so while I'm going to enjoy some time off after this, right now it's all business."

Sharapova is competing in the White Group, where Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska earned her first career win against Petra Kvitova at the fourth attempt as the defending champion lost the opening match of the championships.

The Wimbledon runner-up won 6-3 6-2 in a match where the Czech, looking to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles since Belgium's Justine Henin in 2007, produced 41 unforced errors in contrast to just five from her opponent.

"I was not very comfortable on court and I didn't feel pretty well," said Kvitova, who cut a dejected figure afterwards.

The only Red Group game of the day found Serena Williams playing her first match since winning the U.S. Open in August and she maintained her winning run as she beat Angelique Kerber, the German making her debut at the event for the world's top eight players.

The Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic champion won 6-4 6-1 against the left-hander who had inflicted Williams' only defeat in her 27 matches preceding the tie, with Kerber winning in Cincinnati in August.

The victory, which quickly reached its conclusion once Williams broke for 3-1 in the second set, was greeted with huge enthusiasm by those watching inside Istanbul's Sinan Erdem Dome.

"I've never been here but I never knew I had so many Turkish supporters," Williams told

"It was really an honor to hear the fans go crazy and be really loud when I walked out. It made me have this smile on my face, and an even bigger smile inside."

On Wednesday, Williams is scheduled to play first against Li Na, the former French Open champion from China, while Azarenka enters the action when taking on Kerber, who broke into the top five in the rankings for the first time this week.

"Every match here will be tough - I obviously have great champions in the group," said Azarenka. "It's challenging, definitely, but I'm looking forward to it."

Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:08 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.
Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
updated 8:42 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A year that began in uncertainty for Roger Federer ended with a historic title for the 17-time grand slam champion and his country.
updated 12:16 PM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
French Tennis player Rene Lacoste, one of France's 'Four Musketeers' who won the Davis Cup in 1932, at Wimbledon. He is wearing his embroidered crocodile motif. Original Publication: People Disc - HH0434 (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
updated 2:36 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Marin Cilic follows in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanicevic by claiming a grand slam crown for Croatia, winning the U.S. Open.
updated 9:34 AM EDT, Sun September 14, 2014
Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.
Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Canada and tennis? Really? Yup. The North American tennis power balance is swinging away from the States.
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
updated 7:02 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
updated 7:01 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
updated 9:14 PM EDT, Sun June 22, 2014
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.