Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

WTA Finals Preview

Posted on 26 October 2019 by Becky Thompson

Over the next week, the top eight women in tennis will compete for a record $14 million pot. 

The WTA Finals will begin on October 27 in Shenzhen, China. The players will compete in a round robin before the top two players from each group will move on to knock-out play later in the week, concluding with the final on the November 3. 

The prize money is double the amount from 2018, and surpasses that of the men’s ATP finals which sits at $9 million USD for 2019. 

The winner of the tournament will walk away with $4.725 million. This is more than the US Women’s National Soccer Team received for winning the world cup this summer. 

For a third consecutive year, all four Grand Slams were won by different players. The parity in women’s tennis makes it exciting to watch and the finals could be anyone’s game. 

Red Group

World number one Ashleigh Barty headlines the Red group and will face Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova and Belinda Bencic. 

Barty won the French Open, her first Grand Slam title, and is making her debut appearance at the finals. Barty became the first female Australian player since 1976 to hold the number one spot and the 23-year-old could make more history this week. 

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Osaka took the title at the first Grand Slam of the year in January, the Australian Open. Since then Osaka has had a tough season before coming into her own in the Asian leg of the tour this autumn, including a three set victory in the final of the Beijing Open over Barty. 

Barty and Kvitova have played each other four times in 2019, with their record currently standing at two wins apiece. Kvitova comes into the finals with a recent win over Bencic and having made the final of the Australian Open earlier this year, where she lost to Osaka. 

Bencic, another debutant in the event, only secured qualification on October 19 and will be the underdog of the group. However, it is fair to say that calling any of these players an underdog is a stretch considering the level of play seen from them throughout the year.

This group is hard to call but should fall to seed with Osaka and Barty taking the first and second spots in the group. 

Purple Group

The Purple group is made up of Karolina Pliskova, Bianca Andreescu, Simona Halep, and Elina Svitolina.

Pliskova may be the top seed in this pool, but Andreescu remains the favourite. 2019 was a breakout year for the Canadian. The 19-year-old surprised the competition by winning Indian Wells before a shoulder injury sidelined her for several months. In her first tournament back, she won the Rogers Cup and carried that momentum through to win her first Grand Slam at the US Open, defeating Serena Williams in the final. 

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In group play, Andreescu will face one of her tennis idols, Halep, for the first time. Halep was victorious at Wimbledon in July, winning the second Grand Slam title of her career. She was also recently announced as Romania’s flag bearer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

While Halep and Andreescu look poised to battle it out for the top two spots in their group, Pliskova and Svitolina pose tough challenges. 

In their last meeting, Pliskova beat Halep in straight sets at the Miami Open, but carries a recent loss to Andreescu in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup. 

Svitolina comes into the WTA finals as the reigning champion and knows what it takes to recreate that success. Svitolina has had a quieter season than the other qualified athletes, not winning a single title in 2019. However, the 25-year-old has the experience under her belt to shake things up with 13 career titles so far.

The competition is tight, but Andreescu and Halep should be able to fight off Pliskova and Svitolina to take the top two spots out of the purple group.

Prediction