ISTANBUL (AP) — Jelena Jankovic topped second-ranked Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3 in her first match at the WTA Championships on Wednesday.
Earlier, fifth-ranked Li Na edged Sara Errani 6-3, 7-6 (5). Errani also lost her opening group match on Tuesday to Azarenka and likely will be eliminated from the round-robin event featuring the top eight players in the world.
Jankovic, who was ranked No. 1 in 2008 and returned in the top 10 for the first time since 2011, outplayed the erratic Azeranka to snap a four-match losing streak against her.
Li trailed 3-1 in the second set but won the next four games — and then couldn’t close it out. She twice served for the match — wasting a match point at 5-3 — and both times dropped her serve. Trailing 3-1 in the tiebreaker, Li won the next five points. She converted her third match point when Errani sent a forehand into the net to improve to 6-0 in career meetings.
“The first match is always tight,” said Li. “I still have to find the rhythm on the court.”
Jankovic is ranked No. 8 and seeded seventh because third-ranked Maria Sharapova pulled out of the event with a shoulder injury. She proved to be the steadier player against Azarenka, the Australian Open champion.
In the first set, Jankovic needed 10 minutes to hold serve for a 5-3 lead. Azarenka saved two set points in the next game but sent a forehand wide on Jankovic’s fourth in the 10th game.
Azarenka dropped her serve in the third game of the second set and held in the fifth despite serving three double-faults and facing four break points. But she could not trouble Jankovic on her serve and another forehand by Azarenka sailed long and gave Jankovic the match.
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