WTA 2014: All chasing Serena Williams

Dec. 23, 2013 at 9:03 AM
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- WTA players to watch in 2014 include Li Na, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep but they're all chasing Serena Williams.

Williams, ranked No. 1 in women's tennis, posted a dominating year in 2013, winning 11 tournaments while going 78-4 overall. World No. 2 Victoria Azarenka beat Williams twice but Williams also had two wins against Azarenka -- the finals at Rome and the U.S. Open. Still, Williams is 13-3 all-time versus Azarenka.

The other losses were to Sabina Lisicki in their only meeting for 2013 (Williams is 2-1 lifetime versus Lisicki) and Sloane Stephens, who lost twice in straight sets to Williams in their other matches last year. All of the losses by Williams came in three sets.

She has amassed 13,260 rankings points, more than 5,000 ahead of Azarenka, who seeks to defend her title at the Australian Open in a few weeks.

That tournament could also be a guide to see which players emerge in 2014.

Li moved to No. 3 in the rankings after reaching at least the quarterfinals in three of the four Grand Slam events last year (she lost the Australian Open final to Azarenka and the WTA Championships to Williams).

Sharapova slipped to fourth mainly because she appeared in just two tournaments after a French Open final loss (to Williams). Her play was limited by a shoulder injury. She is expected to play in the Australian Open this year.

Halep won six tournaments last year, which was second most (to Williams) on the WTA tour. They weren't high-profile events but all came in a period from mid-June through November. Whether she can carry that success into 2014 is the question.

The 2014 WTA calendar begins Sunday with tournaments in Brisbane, Australia, and Shenzhen, China. There is also the ASB Classic in New Zealand, which begins Dec. 30.

The WTA Top 10 listing player's name, home country and rankings points:

1. Serena Williams, United States, 13,260

2. Victoria Azarenka, Belarus, 8,046

3. Li Na, China, 6,045

4. Maria Sharapova, Russia, 5,891

5. Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland, 5,875

6. Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic, 4,775

7. Sara Errani, Italy, 4,435

8. Jelena Jankovic, Serbia, 4,170

9. Angelique Kerber, Germany, 3,965

10. Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark, 3,520

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