The annual end-of-season tournament featuring the top eight female tennis players on the Women’s Tour kicks off in Singapore tomorrow with the pre-tournament festivities. The tournament will kick off on the 20th of October. The eight ladies that will make up the star-studded lineup are Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Agnieszka Radwanska, Eugenie Bouchard, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova and SerenaWilliams.
Are we going to have a new Queen of Female Tennis or would previous winners in Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova ensure we have a familiar face?
Take a look as we preview the eight players that will showcase their talents in what will be a brilliant tournament.
WTA RANKING- 1st with 8645 points
Road to Singapore Ranking: 1st with 7146 points
2014 Record- (48 wins-7 losses)
Calendar Titles- 6
GRAND SLAM RESULTS:
Australian Open – 4th Round exit
French Open – 2nd Round exit
Wimbledon – 3rd Round exit
US OPEN – Winner
WTA Tour Finals Statistics
This is her ninth appearance and she has been victorious on four of her previous eight occasions (2001, 2009, 2012 and 2013
Qualified for the championship on the 5th of September and was first to do so.
Serena Williams 2014 SEASON
|Brisbane International||Hard court||Winner||Victoria Azarenka 6-4 7-5|
|Australian Open||Hard Court||Fourth Round||Ana Ivanovic 6-4 3-6 3-6|
|Dubai Tennis Championship||Hard Court||Semi Final||Alize Cornet 4-6 4-4|
|Miami Masters||Hard Court||Winner||Li Na 7-5 6-1|
|Family Circle Cup||Clay (Green)||Second Round||Jana Cepelova 4-6 4-6|
|Madrid Open||Clay||Quarter Finals||Withdrew before match against Petra Kvitova|
|Italian Open||Clay||Winner||Sara Errani 6-3 6-0|
|French Open||Clay||Second Round||Garbrine Muguruza 2-6 2-6|
|Wimbledon||Grass||Third Round||Alize Cornet 6-1 3-6 4-6|
|Stanford Classic||Hard Court||Winner||Angelique Kerber 7-6(7-1) 6-3|
|Canadian Open||Hard Court||Semi Final||Venus Williams 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 3-6|
|Cincinnati Masters||Hard Court||Winner||Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-1|
|US Open||Hard Court||Winner||Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 6-3|
|Wuhan Open||Hard Court||Second Round||Alize Cornet 6-5 RET|
|China Open||Hard Court||Quarter Final||Withdrew before match against Samatha Stosur|
Following her total domination of the 2013 Calendar season, 2014 was going to be a year of defending ranking points and titles. She might not have been successful in doing that as her performances in Australia, France and Wimbledon and title count have shown but she has still been too good for everyone who will be part of this tour. She is 3-0 against Caroline Wozniacki which includes a straight set win at Flushing Meadows; 2-0 against number two, Maria Sharapova and 3-1 against Ana Ivanovic with the Serb’s solitary win coming at the Australian Open.
Apart from this dominant record, she has got a tremendous record against most of her opponents. She has won her last fifteen matches against Maria Sharapova with most of those results lopsided. She also has the physical advantage as she can drain her opponents and make them play that extra ball. If you call her the female version of Rafael Nadal, you would not be far from the truth. Her huge serves would also be a big asset here as she seeks her fifth World Tour Finals Title. She currently has the highest number of aces on the female tour (395), the highest percentage of second serve points won (51.0). She has won 81.7% of her service games and the American has saved 63.2% of the break points she has faced.
There is a lot at stake for the 33 year old going into the championship at Singapore. The number 1 ranking is still up for grabs as Sharapova’s win in Beijing means the jostle for the ladies Numero Uno will be decided in Asia. She has the tournament experience as this will be her 9th appearance at the World Tour Finals and on her previous eight occasions, she was victorious four times (2001, 2009, 2012 and 2013). Only two players have won more titles at the finals; Steffi Graf (five) and Martina Navratilova (eight). With six titles to her name this year, the American will go in search of her seventh title and if she manages to do that, it will be the fourth time in her illustrious career that she has won seven or more titles in a season; 2002(eight), 2012 (seven) and 2013 (eleven).
However for all her impressive records and stats against her opponents, if there is one person that can stop Serena Williams, it has to be Serena Williams. She has the ability to self-destruct and choke when it matters most. Her solitary Grand Slam win in New York came after her failure to reach the quarter-finals of the first three which is some incredible feat. Also, she has been battling a knee injury which made her miss her quarter final match against Stosur in Beijing. If it rears its ugly head again at the Tour Finals, her title hopes, WTA number one rank and WTA Player of the Year hopes could come to a premature end.
Barring any injury worries and assuming she does not press the self destruct button; Serena Williams should start out as favorite in Singapore. Victory in Singapore will also see Williams become the third player to win the WTA Finals three consecutive times. The others are Seles (1990-1992) and Navratilova (1983-1986).
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD AGAINST THE OTHER SEVEN PLAYERS
V Sharapova 16-2
V Halep 3-0
V Kvitova 5-0
V Bouchard 1-0
V Radwanska 8-0
V Ivanovic 7-1
V Wozniacki 9-1
Name: Maria Sharapova
Ranking: 2nd with 6680 points
Road to Singapore Ranking: 2nd with 6680 points
2014 Record: 48-11
Calendar Titles: 4
Grand Slam Results
Australian Open- 4th Round exit
French Open- Winner
Wimbledon-4th Round exit
US Open: 4th Round exit
WTA Tour Final Statistics: She will be competing at the WTA Finals for a seventh time. She has won it once which was her debut in 2004 beating Serena Williams along the way. The Russian has finished runner-up on two other occasions in 2007 and 2012
Qualified for the Tour Finals on the 9th of September and was second to do so.
MARIA SHARAPOVA 2014 SEASON
|Brisbane International||Hard Court||Semi Final||Serena Williams 2-6 6-7 (7-9)|
|Australian Open||Hard Court||4th Round||Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 4-4 1-6|
|Open GDF Suez||Hard Court||Semi Final||Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 3-6 6-4|
|BNP Paribas Open||Hard Court||3rd Round||Camila Giorgi (Q) 3-6 6-4 5-7|
|Sony Open Tennis||Hard Court||Semi Final||Serena Williams 4-6 3-6|
|Porsche Tennis Grand Prix||Clay||Winner||Ana Ivanovic 3-6 6-4 6-1|
|Mutua Madrid Open||Clay||Winner||Simona Halep 1-6 6-2 6-3|
|Internazionali BNL d’Italia||Clay||3rd Round||Ana Ivanovic 1-6 4-6|
|French Open||Clay||Winner||Simona Halep 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4|
|Wimbledon||Grass||4th Round||6-7 6-4 4-6|
|Rogers Cup||Hard Court||3rd Round||Carla Suarez Navarro 2-6 6-4 2-6|
|Western and Southern Open||Hard Court||Semi Final||Ana Ivanovic 2-6 7-5 5-7|
|US Open||Hard Court||4th Round||Caroline Wozniacki 4-6 6-2 2-6|
|Wuhan Open||Hard Court||3rd Round||Timea Bacsnszky 6-7 (3-7) 5-7|
|China Open||Hard Court||Winner||Petra Kvitova 6-4 2-6 6-3|
It has not been a vintage all round Sharapova year but it has certainly been a clay season for the Russian Lady. Three of her 2014 titles have been on the red surface; Stuttgart, Madrid and French Open, underlying her dominance on the red surface. Her 17-1 record on clay further strengthens her claim to being the best clay courter of her generation. That is surprising when you consider the fact that clay used to be her least favorite surface. Unfortunately, away from clay, she has been far from dominant. However her win at the China Open suggest she still has one or two things to say on the hard court surface. Her shoulder issues have no doubt contributed to her decline on the faster surfaces as her swing and serve have been badly affected.
She would compete in her seventh tour final and she is one of the three players in Singapore to have hoisted the trophy (Petra Kvitova and Serena Williams the others). If she is to have a go at the title, then she will have to do something she has not done in ten years; beat Serena Williams. The Russian has lost her last fifteen encounters against the 33 year old. She is seeded second which means she will most likely meet the American in the semifinal at the very least.
Apart from trying to gain some pound of flesh against her nemesis, there is something else up for grabs and that is the number one ranking. Maria Sharapova currently trails Serena Williams by 1965 points, but as defending champion, Williams will defend 1500 points unlike the Russian who has no point to defend as she missed last year’s edition thanks to injury.
Her style of game is ideally suited to indoor courts where wind would not be a factor and she has a pretty good record on indoor surfaces; in 12 indoor finals and the World No. 2 has picked up nine titles.
If she can overcome the psychological block against Serena Williams, be more consistent and hopefully avoid niggling injuries, then we could have another familiar name win the finals. Should she triumph, it will be Sharapova’s fifth title of the season. She has only achieved that feat twice in 2004 and 2006.
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD AGAINST THE OTHER SEVEN
V Serena 2-16
V Halep 5-0
V Kvitova 6-2
V Radwanska 10-2
V Bouchard 3-0
V Ivanovic 9-4
V Wozniacki 5-3
NAME: Simona Halep
Ranking: 3rd with 6246 points
Road to Singapore Ranking: 4th with 5403 points
2014 Record: 43-14
Calendar Titles: 2
Grand Slam Results
Australian Open- Quarter Final exit
French Open- Final
Wimbledon- Semi Final exit
US Open- 3rd Round exit
WTA Tour Final Statistics
The 23 year old Romanian would be participating in her first WTA Tour Finals. She became the third player to qualify for the championship on the 15th of September.
2014 Simona Halep Season
|Sydney||Hard Court||1st Round||Madison Keys 1-6 4-6|
|Australian Open||Hard Court||Quarter Final||Dominika Cibulkova 3-6 0-6|
|Paris||Hard Court||1st Round||Kristina Mladenovic 6-7 4-6|
|Doha||Hard Court||Winner||Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-3|
|Dubai||Hard Court||1st Round||Alize Cornet 6-1 1-1 RET|
|Indian Wells||Hard Court||Semi Final||Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6 4-6|
|Stuttgart||Clay||2nd Round||Svetlona Kuznetsova 5-7 6-7|
|Mutua Madrid Open||Clay||Final||Maria Sharapova 6-1 2-6 3-6|
|Rome||Clay||3rd Round||Carla Suarez Navarro W/O|
|French Open||Clay||Final||Maria Sharapova 4-6 7-6 4-6|
|S- Hertvgenbosch||Grass||2nd Round||Annika Beck 5-7 3-2 RET|
|Wimbledon||Grass||Semi Final||Eugenie Bouchard 6-7 2-6|
|Bucharest||Clay||Winner||Roberta Vinci 6-1 6-3|
|Cincinnati||Hard Court||Quarter Final||Maria Sharapova 6-3 4-6 4-6|
|New Haven||Hard Court||2nd Round||Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6 6-4 3-6|
|US Open||Hard Court||3rd Round||Mirjana Lucic-Baroni(Q) 6-7 2-6|
|Wuhan Open||Hard Court||2nd Round||Garbine Muguruza 6-2 2-6 3-6|
|China Open||Hard Court||Quarter Final||Ana Ivanovic W/O|
It has been a year of consolidation for the 23 year old. After a breakthrough 2013 where she established herself as a top ten player, 2014 has been about improving on it and it has been impressive the way she has gone about it. Yes the stats read 2 tour titles but she reached her first Grand Slam Quarter Final at the Australian Open, won the Qatar Open, reached the final of the Madrid Open losing in three sets to Maria Sharapova. After a minor blip, she bounced back to reach her first slam final of her career at the Roland Garros. Unfortunately for Halep, she once again ran into Maria Sharapova who edged her in three tight and tough sets. She became the first player since Martina Hingis in 1997 to reach a maiden Grand Slam Final without dropping a set before the reverse to Sharapova.
She is an aggressive baseliner and her favorite shot is the serve and that should serve her well in conditions that will not be windy. She has also shown that she can be consistent so you her expect to have a good run in the tournament.
However despite her consistency, she has won the just one big title and she could go missing where it matters. The fact that this is her maiden appearance at the Tour Finals could also be a limiting factor. Also, her preparations for Singapore have not been up to scratch as she suffered a hip injury which forced her to withdraw prior to her Quarter Final clash with Ana Ivanovic. Playing against the world’s best seven players would a massive test on her fitness, and hip of course.
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD AGAINST THE TOP SEVEN
Halep 0 V Serena 3
Halep 0 V Sharapova 5
Halep 2 V Kvitova 0
Halep 2 V Radwanska 4
Halep 1 V Bouchard 1
Halep 2 V Ivanovic 1
Halep 1 V Wozniacki 1
Name: PETRA KVITOVA
Ranking: 4th with 6126 points
Road to Singapore Ranking: 3rd with 5597 points
2014 Record: 40-14
Calendar Titles: 3
Grand Slam Results
Australian Open- 1st Round exit
French Open: 3rd Round exit
US Open: 3rd Round exit
WTA Tour Finals Statistics:
This will be her third appearance at the Tour Finals. In her previous two occasions, she made it past the round robin stage, winning it at her first attempt in 2011(beat Azarenka in three sets) and losing in the 2013 semifinal to Li Na. She missed the 2012 championship due to injury.
2014 KVITOVA SEASON
|Sydney||Hard Court||Semi Final||Tsvetana Pironkova 4-6 3-6|
|Australian Open||Hard Court||1st Round||Kukiska Kum Khum 2-6 6-1 4-6|
|Doha||Hard Court||Quarter Final||Jelena Jankovic 1-6 3-6|
|Dubai||Hard Court||2nd Round||Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 4-6 6-7|
|Indian Wells||Hard Court||4th Round||Dominika Cibulkova 3-6 2-6|
|Miami||Hard Court||Quarter Final||Maria Sharapova 5-7 1-6|
|Stuttgart||Clay||2nd Round||Alisa Kleybanova 2-6 6-7|
|Madrid||Clay||Semi Final||Simona Halep 7-6 3-6 2-6|
|Rome||Clay||2nd Round||Shuai Zhag 6-7 7-5 3-6|
|French Open||Clay||3rd Round||Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-6 6-1 7-9|
|Eastbourne||Grass||Quarter Final||Heather Watson W/O|
|Wimbledon||Grass||Winner||Eugenie Bouchard 6-36-0|
|Montreal||Hard Court||3rd Round||Ekaterina Makarova 4-6 6-1 2-6|
|Cincinnati||Hard Court||2nd Round||Elana Svitolina 2-6 6-7|
|New Haven||Hard Court||Winner||Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4 6-2|
|US Open||Hard Court||3rd Round||Aleksandra Krunic 4-6 4-6|
|Wuhan Open||Hard Court||Winner||Eugenie Bouchard 6-3 6-4|
|China Open||Hard Court||Final||Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-2 3-6|
After an underwhelming 2013, this year has been a much more productive year for the 24 year old. The highlight of her year was her triumph in Wimbledon where she dismantled Bouchard 6-3 6-0 in 55 minutes to win her 2nd All England Club Crown in 4 years. Her serves and groundstrokes are the biggest assets of the left hander. Pundits have tipped her as the next “power woman” after Williams leaves the scene.
However, unlike the American, she is not consistent and has been accused of saving her best for Wimbledon. The fact she failed to reach the Quarters Final of any of the other slams further strengthens the claim of critics of her being a grass-courter. Her wins at Wuhan and New Haven would suggest that she could be competitive on hard court.
I believe she will start out in Singapore as the third favorite (behind Serena and Sharapova) but if she is to really wrestle and win Tour Finals for a second time, she will have to show greater consistency in her game.
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD AGAINST THE TOP SEVEN
V Serena 0-5
V Sharapova 2-6
V Halep 0-2
V Radwanska 5-1
V Bouchard 3-0
V Ivanovic 3-4
V Wozniacki 4-4
Watch out for the preview on Radwanska, Bouchard, Ivanovic and Wozniacki tomorrow!
Photo Credit- http://www.wtatennis.com