Bianca Andreescu will be making her debut at the 2019 WTA Finals Shenzhen
Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu have qualified for the WTA Finals Shenzhen.
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Two more players have sealed their spots at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, as Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu officially qualify for the season-ending championships.
Wimbledon champion Halep qualified for the WTA Finals for the sixth consecutive year, while US Open winner Andreescu will be making her debut among the ‘elite eight’.
The WTA’s announcement on Monday brings the total of players qualified for the WTA Finals up to four, with Halep and Andreescu joining French Open champion Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova, winner of a WTA Tour-leading four titles in 2019.
The WTA Finals will be played in Shenzhen for the first time in 2019, and feature the eight players who have accumulated the most ranking points over the course of the calendar year. The 2019 Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen will take place from 27 October-3 November and, this year, offer a record $14 million in prize money.
‘It is such an honor to qualify for the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen,’ Halep said. ‘It is always a goal of mine each season to qualify and I’m excited to play the event this year. I have been to Shenzhen before so I’m looking forward to being back in front of the great fans there.’
Runner-up at the WTA Finals on her debut appearance in 2014, Halep has gone on to qualify in each subsequent year, although she did not play in 2018 due to a back injury.
A similar scenario could take place in 2019. It’s been a superb season for the Romanian, who captured her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon when she defeated Serena Williams in the final and also finished runner-up at the Mutua Madrid Open to Kiki Bertens and at the Qatar Total Open to Elise Mertens. But Halep has been struggling in recent weeks with various injury issues, pulling out of the Zhengzhou Open due to an ankle injury. More worryingly, she retired against Elena Rybakina after nine games at last week’s Wuhan Open due to back pain, and suffered a shock defeat to Ekaterina Alexandrova at the China Open on Monday, dropping serve four times in a 2-6, 3-6 defeat.
‘It was a tough one today. I didn’t recover well after my first match, so it was very tough for me to play and she played really well,’ Halep said after losing to Alexandrova.
‘The injury from Wuhan, it’s getting worse, so I have to go home and take an MRI…take a break and do some treatment.’
Halep has the best part of four weeks to recuperate from the injury and prepare herself to play at the WTA Finals. She will also have the boon of knowing that she won’t need to play on consecutive days at the tournament unless she reaches the semifinals.
Returning to action for the first time since winning her first Grand Slam title in stunning style at the US Open, Andreescu opened her China Open campaign with a three-set victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Andreescu will be making her debut at the season-ending championships in 2019 after an astonishing breakthrough season for the 19-year-old Canadian, who was ranked world no. 152 when the season began. She went on to compile a 44-4 win-loss record, win three of the biggest hard-court titles of the year at Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the US Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the final, and currently has an astonishing 8-0 record against top-10 players.
‘This has been an incredible year for me and I’m really looking forward to ending the season at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen,’ Andreescu said.
‘I’ve always dreamt of competing at the WTA Finals and I’m so proud of all the work my team and I put in to get to this point.’
Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka and runner-up Petra Kvitova look likely to fill two of the remaining places at the WTA Finals Shenzhen, with defending champion Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic and Kiki Bertens in a three-way battle for the remaining two.