Women's Tennis (WTA)
 
          === Sharapova, Serena roll in WTA Championships openers ===
 
 Istanbul, Turkey (Sports  Network)  - Former champion Maria Sharapova and two-
 time  titlist  Serena Williams were easy  round-robin winners, as the 2012 WTA
 Championships commenced Tuesday in Istanbul.
 
 The  second-seeded  former world  No. 1  Sharapova leveled seventh-seeded Sara
 Errani  6-3, 6-2, while the third-seeded former top-ranked great Williams took
 care  of fifth-seeded  German left-hander Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-1 indoors at
 Sinan  Erdem Arena. The Russian Sharapova also beat the Italian Errani in this
 year's French Open final.
 
 The  2012 Wimbledon,  U.S. Open  and  Olympic champion  Williams captured  WTA
 Championships  titles  in 2001  and 2009  and is a  two-time runner-up at this
 season-ending event.
 
 Play  got  underway on Day  1 when  Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska beat reigning
 champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. The fourth-seeded 2012 Wimbledon
 runner-up  to  Williams  Radwanska  whipped the  sixth-seeded  2011  Wimbledon
 champion Kvitova 6-3, 6-2.
 
 Kvitova defeated current world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in last year's final in
 Istanbul, which will also play host to this elite eight-player tournament next
 year.
 
 On  Wednesday,  a top-seeded Azarenka  will face Kerber, Sharapova will battle
 Radwanska and Williams will encounter eighth-seeded Li Na.
 
 This week's four-player Group A features the Australian Open champion and U.S.
 Open  runner-up  Azarenka, Williams (1-0), Kerber  (0-1) and Li, while Group B
 boasts the 2004 champion and 2007 WTA Championships runner-up Sharapova (1-0),
 Radwanska (1-0), Kvitova (0-1) and Errani (0-1).
 
 The  top-two  players in  each group  will advance to  the semifinals, and the
 winners will square off in the lucrative finale on Sunday.
 
 Azarenka needs only two wins this week to end the year at No. 1.
 
 The winner of this $4.9 million event could collect as much as $1.75 million.
 
 
 
 10/23 15:55:13 ET

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