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Navratilova: Azarenka, Kvitova to be great rivals

Updated: February 12, 2012, 13:54


Victoria Azarenka, left, Anastasia Yakimova, center, and Olga Govortsova, all of Belarus, stand together before first-round Fed Cup tennis matches against the United States, in Worcester, Mass., Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. Azarenka is the world's top ranked player. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

PARIS (AP) Martina Navratilova expects a compelling rivalry to develop between Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.

Speaking ahead of an exhibition match at the Open GDF tournament in Paris on Sunday, Navratilova said Azarenka and Kvitova have all the right attributes.

"I think we definitely have the possibility of a great rivalry between Azarenka and Kvitova,'' the tennis great said. "They are very talented players. They have really intense personalities. They're very professional about how they go about it. If they stay healthy, that's the rivalry to come.''

Navratilova was at the heart of the greatest rivalry in women's tennis when she and Chris Evert split Grand Slam titles in the 1970s and 80s.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion cast doubts on Maria Sharapova's capacity to keep up with Azarenka and Kvitova. Azarenka beat Sharapova in the Australian Open final last month to become the top-ranked player.

"I don't know if she can be fit to compete with those two because they're stronger physically,'' Navratilova said.

Five different players have won the last five Grand Slam tournaments in an unpredictable period for the women's game. That has drawn criticism from some quarters, but nine-time Grand Slam winner Monica Seles says the game doesn't necessarily need a great rivalry to thrive.

"It's great also not to maybe have a rivalry,'' Seles said. "Now that we really don't know when the tournament starts (who's going to be in the final), I think it's really exciting for the fans.

"Right now, everybody's fighting to be that No. 1 or to win the most Grand Slams. But the competition is pretty even. I think it's pretty exciting for fans to watch.''

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