Well, it’s time for the season to end for the professionals of the Women’s Tennis Association tour and hence this brings the party to the city of Kallang in Singapore for the WTA Tour Finals where eight of the top singles players and doubles team will battle it out to win the coveted end-of-the-season silverware.
The road to Singapore is determined through the year-around performance of the players in the circuit – based on the amount of ranking points garnered throughout the season in various tournaments. With the absence of Serena Williams who have taken an earlier end to her season this time who would have otherwise seeded second behind the German world no. 1 Angelique Kerber who won the Australian Open and the US Open and also reached the Wimbledon final. In all, she garnered some 8000 points from 20 tournaments this season.
In absence of Serena, defending champion Agnieszka Radwańska of Poland moves up to be the second seed picking up 4975 points from 19 events. Romania’s Simona Halep did away with her rusty beginning to the season and became the third after Kerber and Williams to qualify for the event in the last week of September. The Cincinnati champion and US Open finalist, Karolína Plíšková, too qualified for the Finals by October and was also joined by the French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza who otherwise has had an on-off season. The initial list was rounded up last week when American Madison Keys and Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulková joined the other top ladies for the Singapore meet. Both Keys and Cibulková make their debut at this particular tournament.
However with Serena’s withdrawl due to injury, the Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova completed the eight-woman draw. Johanna Konta and Carla Suárez Navarro remained the two alternates for the showpiece event which means they are to take the court if someone backs out due to injury in the middle of the tournament.
The eight seeds are drawn into groups of four from which the top two from either will advance to the semi-finals after a round-robin. The winners of the semis then set up the final showdown. The Red Group consists of Kerber, Halep, Keys and Cibulková while Radwańska, Plíšková, Muguruza and Kuznetsova round up the White Group. Though Kerber – who has already ensured the year-end no. 1 ranking ahead of the meet due to a supreme lead over her rivals on the back of a scintillating seaon – starts as the favourite, the tour-ender has for most of the time has thrown up surprise winners. Radwańska, Plíšková and Muguruza are the others who might spoil the party of the German.
Coming to the doubles, the defending champions Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis were seeded second behind the French Open champion pair of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. Mirza and Hingis who parted ways after the US Open reunited to play at Singapore for adding another title to their epic partnership that included a dozen trophies and a 40-odd consecutive winning streak. The US Open winning duo of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Šafářová is followed by another reunited pair of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. The Hungarian-Kazakh duo of Tímea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova and the Chinese Taipei pair of Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan takes the next spots while the Australian finalists Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká and the German-Czech collaboration of Julia Görges and Karolína Plíšková completes the draw. The all-American team of Raquel Atawo and Abigail Spears sits as the reserve side this week.
Karolína Plíšková finds a special mention as she is playing both the singles and doubles this week – making a debut in both of them. The Hingis-Mirza duo, with 5 titles this season, is statistically the most accomplished team in this competition. The action is set to start tonight and the author, on behalf of Sports-Nova, wishes all the leading ladies all the best for the coming week.
Photo by toga