Defending champion Svitolina secures WTA Finals Shenzhen place leaving Bertens and Bencic battling to complete the field

hannahwilks in Uncategorized 27 Nov 2019
Defending champion Elina Svitolina has qualified for the WTA Finals Shenzhen 2019 (PA Sports)

Elina Svitolina has become the seventh player to qualify for the WTA Finals Shenzhen, leaving one place open.

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Defending WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina has officially qualified for the season-ending championships in Shenzhen.
Svitolina is the seventh player to qualify for the WTA Finals Shenzhen 2019, joining Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu and Petra Kvitova.
There is now one open spot in the eight-woman field, which will be filled by either Belinda Bencic or Kiki Bertens depending on this week’s results at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Serena Williams currently occupies the final qualifying spot, but is not expected to play the tournament, having not competed since the US Open.
Madrid Open champion Bertens has a 165-point lead on Bencic, and will qualify for the WTA Finals unless Bencic reaches the final. Both women have byes into the second round and have not yet started their campaigns in Moscow.
Here are the current standings in the Porsche Road to Shenzhen, as the standings which track qualification based on the accumulation of points during the calendar year are known:

WTA Road to Shenzhen standings

Standing Player Points 2019 titles Previous WTA Finals appearances Best WTA Finals result
1 – QUALIFIED Ashleigh Barty 6,476 French Open

Miami (Premier Mandatory)
Birmingham (Premier)

2 – QUALIFIED Karolina Pliskova 5,315

Rome (Premier-5)

Brisbane (Premier)

Eastbourne (Premier)
Zhengzhou (Premier)

3 (2016-18) SF (2017-18)
3 – QUALIFIED Naomi Osaka 5,246 Australian Open

Beijing (Premier Mandatory)Osaka (Premier)

1 (2018) RR (2018)
4 – QUALIFIED Simona Halep 4,962 Wimbledon 4 (2014, 2015-17) Runner-up (2014)
5 – QUALIFIED Bianca Andreescu 4,942

US Open

Indian Wells (Premier Mandatory)

Rogers Cup Toronto (Premier-5)

6 – QUALIFIED Petra Kvitova 4,401 Sydney (Premier)

Stuttgart (Premier)

6 (2011-15, 2018) Champion (2011)
7 – QUALIFIED Elina Svitolina 3,995 2 (2017-18) Champion (2018)
8 – QUALIFIED Belinda Bencic 3,955 Dubai (Premier-5) 0

Svitolina became the seventh active player to win the WTA Finals last year when she came into the tournament unheralded but put together a fantastic run, going undefeated in the round-robin in matches against Bertens, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens before beating former champion Kvitova in the semifinals and Pliskova in the final.

Svitolina with the WTA Finals trophy in 2018 (PA Sports)

Great things were expected from Svitolina in 2019 but knee injuries have played a major role in the Ukrainian’s season, keeping her off court from Miami in March until Madrid in May and decimating her clay season, as well as seeing her retire in Guangzhou a few weeks ago. Svitolina has not won a title so far this season or reached a final, but she did make the first Grand Slam semifinal appearances of her career at Wimbledon and the US Open as well as the semifinals of Doha, Dubai and Indian Wells and quarterfinals at the Australian Open, Toronto, Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Beijing, compiling a 35-20 win-loss record.

The defending champion is a welcome addition to a field which already includes the current world no. 1 Barty and the champions at the four majors in 2019: Osaka (Australian Open), Barty (French Open), Halep (Wimbledon) and Andreescu (US Open). Barty and Andreescu will be making their debuts at the WTA Finals in 2019 (in singles; Barty has already played in the doubles field).
Bencic could potentially be the third debutante at the season-ending championships if she can make the Kremlin Cup final. She is due to open her campaign against Katerina Siniakova or Polona Hercog while Bertens, who was defeated in the semifinals of Linz last week by eventual champion Coco Gauff, faces Timea Babos or qualifier Kaia Kanepi.
The WTA Finals have a history stretching back to 1972 when Chris Evert won the inaugural event and have been held in many major cities over the decades, most recently Istanbul (2011-13) and Singapore (2014-18). The tournament relocates to Shenzhen in 2019 and will take place from 27 October-3 November for a record $14 in prize money.