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WTA Finals: Top Three Contenders for Singapore

Live Tennis Staff in News 23 Oct 2016
  • Radwanska looking to continue her rich vein of form and recapture Singapore
  • Kerber attempting to make it out of the round-robin group for the first time
  • Halep hungry for another deep run at the year ending championship
The WTA Finals competitors - Left to Right: Madison Keys (USA), Karolina Pliskova (CZE), Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), Angelique Kerber (GER), Simona Halep (ROU), Garbine Muguruza (ESP), Dominika Cibulkova. The last remaining spot for the final qualifier is yet to be determined. (Photo by Julian Finney

This week marks the year ending WTA championships in Singapore, and we profile our top three picks for the title.


Written by Sean Drechsler

Agnieszka Radwanska

Surprising everyone (including herself) last year with a miraculous run to the silverware, the fan favourite will come in to Singapore this year as the second seed and with a target on her back. As usual, the Pole has caught alight on the Asian swing, recording a 12-2 W/L record and picking up one of her biggest titles of her career just two weeks ago in Beijing, her third Premier-Mandatory crown. 

The World No. 3 has landed in a group that favours the right-hander, which includes No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova, No. 5 seed Garbine Muguruza and the No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. Radwanska owns a 13-16 W/L record against this group, albeit with 12 of those losses coming from former two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova. The Russian poses the only obvious roadblock for the Pole, in what is mostly a favourable draw for the defending champion.

BNP Paribas WTA Finals: Singapore 2016 - Previews

Agnieszka Radwanska (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

With Pliskova not being able to recreate her magical form from the North American harcourt swing combined with Muguruza’s consistent inconsistency and recent injury woes in Linz, the Pole shouldn’t have any trouble getting past the two power players. However, the veteran Russian Kuznetsova poses a risk for Radwanska. The two-time Grand Slam champion has a 12-4 W/L record against the second seed, and recently won their tussle in Wuhan in three sets after saving a match point. However, having played the final of Moscow just two days before her scheduled match with Radwanska, only time will tell whether Sveta has the energy to derail the defending champion’s bid at a second WTA Finals crown.

BNP Paribas WTA Finals: Singapore 2016 - Previews

Angelique Kerber (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA)

Angelique Kerber

Having recently attained the year-ending WTA No. 1 crown and being voted the WTA Player of the Year, many would think Kerber is the outstanding favourite to win the title, let alone make it out of her group. However, since the German claimed her second Grand Slam title at New York and snatched the No. 1 ranking from Serena Williams, the feisty left hander has recorded poor results, going 5-3 through the Asian Swing. How much of those results were due to the leg injury she sustained is unsure, although now that she is healthy and rested, it will be interesting to see if she can recapture her winning form in time.

Her group consists of Simona Halep, Madison Keys and Dominika Cibulkova, recording a combined 12-9 W/L record against her opponents. With all of the players in her group in fine form leading into the event, Kerber will have to play some of her best tennis to escape the round robin group for the first time in her career.

BNP Paribas WTA Finals: Singapore 2016 - Previews

Angelique Kerber (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Kerber is 1-4 on hardcourts against Halep, and it seems as though the winner of this match up will probably end up on top of the group, based on their relative head-to-heads with Keys and Cibulkova. With a 5-1 W/L record against Keys, it seems unlikely for the powerful America to upset Kerber, although not impossible if the reigning Australian and US Open champion is having an off day. Cibulkova and Kerber have not faced off since last year, and Kerber has won the last four meetings dating back to 2013. While it may be a bumpy ride, expect Kerber to come out either on top of her group or behind Halep.

TENNIS-WTA-SIN

Simona Halep (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Simona Halep

The 25-year-old Romanian has enjoyed her most productive Asian Swing to date, reaching the semi-finals of Wuhan and losing out to an inspire Petra Kvitova. However, Halep has excellent history in Singapore, having reached the final in 2014 while routing Serena Williams along the way. Having been in sizzling form since Wimbledon, Halep’s Asian swing ended with a bizarre straight sets loss to Zhang Shuai in Beijing; the same player who famously ended her Australian Open campaign in the first round earlier this year.

BNP Paribas WTA Finals: Singapore 2016 - Previews

Simona Halep (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

As the only player with a winningest record against the other players in the White group, it seems foolish not to back Halep as a favourite. On the other hand, Kerber gained the upper hand in their last hardcourt meeting, which was in the Cincinnati semi-finals. Both Keys and Cibulkova have recorded wins against the third seed, and both have the potential to rout Halep on any given day. While one expects Halep to slide past Cibulkova with relative ease, Halep has struggled against Keys, with many of their recent battles tightly contested.

If Halep can make her way past Keys (scheduled for the first match), the confidence boost she will gain from the match could set the Romanian up nicely to make another deep run in Singapore.

***

The WTA Finals Singapore is live from 23-30 October.


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WTA Finals: Top Three Contenders for Singapore

As the WTA tour reaches the conclusion of the season, we preview who we think are our top picks to take home the silverware in Singapore.

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