The WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) is gearing itself up for its season-ending year end Championships, featuring the top eight players in the rankings, which will be held in Singapore for the first time this year. The event, held in Istanbul the past three years, is the fifth biggest of the season and awards 810 ranking points to the winner plus 230 points for each round robin win. The event will be held from Oct. 17th to the 26th and stars a few in-form players coming off the back of big wins in Asia and a host of elite players struggling with injuries in what will be a very open WTA year ending championships.
The first player to qualify was WTA world No. 1 and reigning U.S Open champion Serena Williams. However, the defending champion and world No.1 had to pull out of the Premier tournament in Beijing with a left knee injury and has not played since. The uncertainty of her form makes the event more open than in previous years in what has been, due to Williams’ patchy form at the year’s slams, one of the most open tennis seasons in recent years.
The second seed at the WTA championships is French Open champion Maria Sharapova. She has played well this fall, winning a hard court title, her first since Indian Wells ’13, in Beijing. The Russian would be the most likely beneficiary if Williams does not enter- she has lost to her the last 15 times they have played going back to 2005.
Third seeded Petra Kvitova will be a strong favorite. She won the Premier title in Wuhan, and finished runner up in Beijing. The Wimbledon champion said she felt tired after her great run and after a couple of weeks rest she should be fresh and ready to try to win her second year end championships. She won the WTA year ending event in 2011, the same year she won her first Wimbledon title, and will be hoping history repeats itself in Singapore.
The fourth seed Simona Halep, taking part in her first WTA year ending championships, has dropped off a little form wise in the last quarter of the year. Halep, who was ranked world No 2 before Sharapova won Beijing a couple of weeks ago, suffered early defeats at the U.S Open and Wuhan and was forced to withdraw from Beijing at the quarter-final stage with a hip injury. She is still expected to take part in Singapore but how effective she can be after her injuries and lack of match play is in doubt.
Eugenie Bouchard is the fifth player to qualify. The Canadian has had a break out year, reaching the semi-finals at the Australian and French Opens, and finishing runner-up at Wimbledon. Since then though the pressure of being the much publicized next big thing has told and the 20 year old admitted as much after her early loss at her home event in Montreal. Though she made the final in Wuhan (Lost to Kvitova), she was upset by Sabine Lisicki in her opening match in Beijing and then withdrew from her second round match in Linz with an upper left leg injury.
Agnieszka Radwanska, world ranked No. 6 is the sixth player to qualify for the event. Radwanska has had a patchy season, highlighted by her Premier win in Montreal, however the Pole has not made it past the quarter finals at her five events since that win, losing to three players ranked in the 40s. Once Radwanska was a sure bet to beat players ranked below her and with her recent inconsistent form, it will be a surprise if she makes it out of the round robin stage.
Seventh to qualify is Ana Ivanovic. The former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open winner is back in the top ten for the first time since 2009, and has had an impressive year with four titles and wins over reigning world No. 1 and 2 Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Ivanovic will be well-rested after pulling out of Linz with a hip injury, a most likely precautionary measure as she prepares for an event which some believe she could be the winner at.
Last but not least to qualify is Caroline Wozniacki. Along with Sharapova and Kvitova, she enters the event the most in form, having made the U.S Open final and she has made the final of Tokyo and the semi-finals of Wuhan. Though she lost to Samantha Stosur in her opening match in Beijing, Stosur still has her odd stellar performances now and then and last week picked up the title in Osaka.
With eight places decided, there is still an alternate place left up for grabs. Right now, Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, competing in the Kremlin Cup, is one win away from her first appearance at the prestigious event. If she makes it through to the WTA championships, Cibulkova will have a high chance of competing considering the number of injuries affecting the top players.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
Photo courtesy of Labbradolci- License