Azarenka beats Jankovic in WTA championships opener
Doha: Victoria Azarenka marked her debut at the WTA Tour Championships with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Serbia's Jelena Jankovic in the tournament's opening match on Tuesday.
Jankovic, one of three players to top the world rankings this year but who scraped into the event as the final player among the eight qualifiers last week, sprayed 33 errors on a half-empty show court at the Khalifa Tennis Centre.
Members of Qatar's ruling Al-Thani family watched from the Royal Box as 20-year-old Belarussian Azarenka sped into a 6-2, 3-1 lead before Jankovic sparked into life to break back.
The revival did not last, however, as Azarenka profited from more wayward Jankovic shots and, after coming through an eighth game that went to five deuces, she served out for the victory.
Azarenka now tops the White Group that also includes world number one Dinara Safina and Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki.
Later on Tuesday in the Maroon Group, world number two Serena Williams, bidding to top the year-end rankings for the first time since 2002, plays French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova after her sister Venus faces another Russian, Olympic champion Elena Dementieva, on Centre Court.