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                 === Azarenka locks up year-end No. 1 spot ===
 Istanbul,  Turkey  (Sports Network) -  Victoria Azarenka needed to win two
 matches this week to clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking, and that's exactly
 what she did at the season-ending WTA Championships.
 Azarenka (2-1) secured a berth in the semifinals in Istanbul by getting past
 eighth-seeded Chinese star Li Na, who went 1-2 this week, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 in 1
 hour, 39 minutes on Day 4 of this prestigious event.
 The 23-year-old Belarusian becomes the 11th woman to finish the year at No. 1
 since the rankings began in 1975.
 A relieved Azarenka said, "I feel great. I mean, honestly, it's a dream coming
 This week's top-four seeds all managed to land in the semis.
 Azarenka's semifinal opponent on Saturday will be Russian star Maria
 Sharapova, who also posted a round-robin win on Friday. Azarenka beat
 Sharapova in this year's Australian Open final and is a dominant 4-1 versus
 the Russian in 2012, including a 3-1 record in four finals. Azarenka leads
 their all-time series, 7-4.
 The  Australian  Open champion  Azarenka was  last year's  WTA Championships
 runner-up  to  Czech left-hander Petra Kvitova.
 Meanwhile, the French Open champion Sharapova went 3-0 in her round-robin
 matches this week.
 The second-seeded former world No. 1 star breezed past ninth-seeded
 replacement Samantha Stosur 6-0, 6-3 indoors at Sinan Erdem Dome on Friday.
 The sturdy Aussie Stosur went 0-2 in her round-robin affairs after replacing
 the ill 2011 WTA Championships titlist Kvitova in the elite eight-player field
 on Wednesday.
 The 2004 champion and 2007 WTA Championships runner-up Sharapova captured this
 week's four-player White Group, which also featured Wimbledon runner-up
 Agnieszka Radwanska (2-1)  and French  Open runner-up  Sara Errani  (1-2). The
 fourth-seeded Radwanska joined Azarenka, Sharapova and Serena Williams in the
 semis by outlasting the seventh-seeded Italian Errani 6-7 (6-8), 7-5, 6-4 in 3
 1/2 hours, which marked the longest match in this tournament's history.
 The Polish Radwanska will face the third-seeded former world No. 1 Williams
 (3-0) on Saturday in a rematch of the Wimbledon final, which was won by the
 powerful American. Williams is 3-0 lifetime against Radwanska.
 In addition to Azarenka, Williams and Li, this week's Red Group, which was won
 by Williams, also featured fifth-seeded German Angelique Kerber, who went 0-3
 in her round-robin activity.
 Saturday's semifinal winners will meet in the lucrative final on Sunday. If
 Sharapova or Williams title this week, one of them would claim $1.75 million
 as an undefeated champion.
 The sizzling-hot Williams has  won 46  of her  last 48  matches overall and is
 a perfect 12-0 against top-five players this season.
 The  31-year-old star  is the reigning Wimbledon,  U.S. Open  and  Olympic
 champion and captured  WTA Championships  titles  in 2001  and 2009  and is a
 two-time runner-up at this event.
 10/26 17:33:21 ET

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