TENNIS PREVIEW • WTA SINGAPORE • BNP PARIBAS WTA LADIES FINALS 2018

Written by: on 19th October 2018
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WTA Finals 2018
TENNIS PREVIEW • WTA SINGAPORE • BNP PARIBAS WTA LADIES FINALS 2018

epa07104604 (L-R) Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, Sloane Stephens of the USA, Naomi Osaka of Japan, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, and Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands are pictured flanking the Billie Jean King Trophy during the singles draw ceremony for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 held at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, 19 October 2018. The BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 will take place from 21-28 October 2018 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON  |
(L-R) Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, Sloane Stephens of the USA, Naomi Osaka of Japan, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, and Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands are pictured flanking the Billie Jean King Trophy during the singles draw ceremony for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 held at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, 19 October 2018. The BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 will take place from 21-28 October 2018 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.  EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

 

 

By: Thomas Cluck

 

After another thrilling, intriguing, up-and-down season on the WTA tour, the crown jewel event of the season is here to determine the season’s champion, with the coveted Billie Jean King Trophy and the title of BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore Champion on the line.

 

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic poses for photographers as she arrives for the singles draw ceremony of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 held at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, 19 October 2018. The BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 will take place from 21-28 October 2018 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

With women’s tennis featuring more depth and talent than has been seen for decades, the 2018 season has seen triumphs and tribulations for all of the greatest eight set to do battle in Singapore, with world number one and 2018 Player of the Year award winner Simona Halep’s withdrawal moving Kiki Bertens into the eighth spot to join a stacked field of Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Sloane Stephens, Elina Svitolina, and Karolina Pliskova.

 

Following a dramatic pre-tournament photo shoot and draw ceremony to commemorate the WTA Finals’ last year in Singapore prior to its move to Shenzhen for 2019, the draw was made, leaving Wimbledon champion Kerber, U.S. Open winner Osaka, Miami titleist Stephens, and Cincinnati winner Bertens drawn into the Red Group. Making up the White Group is defending champion and Australian Open winner Wozniacki, tour titles leader Kvitova, Rome champion Svitolina, and Tokyo and Stuttgart winner Pliskova.

 

Slated to lead off play from the Singapore Sports Hub on Sunday is the White Group, with Kvitova and Svitolina leading off prior to Wozniacki and Pliskova’s redeux of their semifinal here in Singapore a year prior. Monday’s action will see Red Group action featuring the two youngest players in the elite eight and the two most recent US Open champions do battle with Osaka and Stephens while Kerber and Bertens will follow to round out the opening slate of matches.

 

While the round-robin groups are fair even across the two with top players, dangerous floaters, and in-form opponents sprinkled across both groups, the Red Group seems the slightly stronger of the two due to the brilliant, poised play of Osaka in recent months and the giant-killing ability of Stephens and Bertens, two well-documented big match players in 2018.

 

In the Red Group, the challenge for semifinal favorites Osaka and Kerber will be to fend off the dangerous play of their counterparts in Stephens and Bertens, and particularly for Osaka, how the 21 year-old Japanese sensation will hold her nerve in her first WTA Finals appearance following a 2018 season that has seen her shoot in the international stratosphere of fame and celebrity following an incredible US Open win and the ensuing attention and pressure.

 

From winning the WTA Rising Stars tournament here in Singapore four years ago in the inaugural edition to qualifying to her first year-end tournament and the only Asian player in the field in the tournament’s final year in Singapore after a breakthrough season for the Japanese, Osaka will no doubt be the story of the 2018 WTA Finals.

 

All eyes may be on Osaka but the biggest dark horse in the entire Singapore field lies in the uber-competitive Red Group as well, with Bertens looking to finish the year of her career with a deep run at the tour’s crown jewel event. No one has came up more clutch and defeated more top ten players than Bertens in 2018, and facing a top player in each match she contests in Singapore will undoubtedly bring out the Dutchwoman’s best tennis.

 

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic poses for photographers as she arrives for the singles draw ceremony of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 held at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, 19 October 2018. The BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 will take place from 21-28 October 2018 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

In the White Group, all signs seem to be pointing to two former WTA Finals champions – the current defending champ Wozniacki and 2011 Istanbul winner Kvitova.

 

Following a season for Wozniacki that saw the Dane finally capture her maiden major title in dramatic fashion Down Under at the Australian Open and reclaim the world number one ranking, the defending champion will be looking to back up the breakthrough title that set the stage for her historic season with a repeat in Singapore, an incredibly difficult task. Following her run to the title in Eastbourne earlier this season, Wozniacki had struggled mightily with injuries and lack of form but the Dane recaptured that winning feeling a few weeks ago in Beijing, storming to the title at the China Open without the loss of a set, a stark message to the rest of the Singapore field.

 

Possibly the biggest roadblock in Wozniacki’s path to a WTA Finals repeat in 2018 comes from 2011 champion and 2018 tour titles leader Kvitova, undoubtedly the most dangerous player in the field. Possessing the powerful, big-serving game to foster indoors, Kvitova has always dominated under the roof without the elements, and a White Group featuring Svitolina and Pliskova, two players not in the best of form themselves, should help the Czech two-time Wimbledon Champion find her footing early on as she looks to regain her own form.

 

Semifinalists:

Red Group- 1. Osaka, 2. Bertens

White Group- 1. Wozniacki, 2. Kvitova

 

Final:

Kvitova def. Osaka

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