WTA Finals: Player-by-player guide to the season-ending tournament in Singapore

Eight highest ranked available players conclude the WTA Tour season next week

SINGAPORE - OCTOBER 19: The 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global returns to Singapore for the fifth consecutive year with the top women competing for $7 million in prize money from October 21 to October 28. This year's singles field poses with the Billie Jean King Trophy at Bay East Garden. Left to Right: Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Naomi Osaka of Japan, Sloane Stephens of the United States, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic on October 19, 2018 in Singapore.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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The WTA Tour season comes to a conclusion in Singapore this week with the WTA Finals. The event has already been hit by the loss of world No 1 Simona Halep with a back injury, which has led to Kiki Bertens completing the line-up.

Here is a look at the eight players who will compete and what to expect when the action gets underway on Sunday.

White Group

Caroline Wozniacki

Tennis - China Open - Women's Singles - Final - National Tennis Center, Beijing, China - October 7, 2018.  Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark celebrates with the trophy after winning the match against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia.  REUTERS/Jason Lee     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Caroline Wozniacki won the Beijing Open title ahead of the WTA Finals. Reuters

Wozniacki, 28, won the title in Singapore 12 months ago and that proved the catalyst for her breakthrough moment in January when she finally claimed her first grand slam crown by defeating Halep in the Australian Open final.

She has been rather underwhelming since then. Until her success in Beijing earlier this month, her lone other tournament win since Melbourne was in Eastbourne.

Beijing was won without beating anyone ranked higher then 20th so the Dane's form is questionable going to Singapore and it would be a surprise if she became the first player since Serena Williams to win back-to-back titles.


Read more:

Graham Caygill: Caroline Wozniacki's Australian Open win brings excitement to women's tennis


Petra Kvitova

Aug 30, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic celebrates after winning the first set against Yafan Wang of China (not pictured) in the second round on day four of the US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Petra Kvitova last won a WTA title at the Birmingham Open in June. Reuters

Until June it had been a strong year for the two-time Wimbledon champion.

The 28-year-old Czech had fully recovered from the injuries suffered in a knife attack in the winter of 2016 and won five WTA titles, but since her success in Birmingham she has dipped.

A run to the semi-finals at Cincinnati in August is as good as it has been since then and the world No 7 will need to raise her game considerably in Singapore to be a contender.

Elina Svitolina

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 24:  Elina Svitolina of Ukraine celebrates after vinning the  WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship at the Dubai Duty Free Stadium  on February 24, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Elina Svitolina successfully defender her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship title. Getty Images

Three titles for Svitolina in 2018, including successfully defending her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown in February.

When the 24-year-old Ukrainian defeated Halep in the Madrid final in May on clay she looked well set to win her first major at the French Open. Instead she crashed out to Mihaela Buzarnescu in the third round and her form has been middling since then.

If the world No 6 can find the level of play with which she dominated in Dubai, reaching the semi-finals should be the very least she can achieve.


Read more:

John McAuley: Elina Svitolina's Dubai title win motivated by desire to emulate Henin and Venus


Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic hits a return against Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland in their women's singles semi-final match of the Tianjin Open tennis tournament in north China's Tianjin on October 13, 2018. China OUT
 / AFP / STR
Karolina Pliskova recently won the Tokyo Open title. AFP

A solid year for Pliskova which has kept the world No 5 near the top of the women's game.

Three titles in total and she comes into the event on the back of a run to the final in Tianjin and a victory in Tokyo against Naomi Osaka.

Usually gets better the longer she is in a tournament so if the 26-year-old Czech can make the knockout stages she will be a force to be reckoned with.

Red Group

Angelique Kerber

Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 14, 2018  Germany's Angelique Kerber celebrates winning the women's singles final with the trophy   REUTERS/Andrew Boyers
Angelique Kerber won the Wimbledon title in July. Reuters

The former world No 1 has a welcome return to the top of the game after an indifferent 2017.

Winning Wimbledon was the highlight for the 30-year-old German, but she has gone off the boil subsequently.

World No 3 Kerber has not gone further than the last 16 at any event since then so a strong run in Singapore will be a surprise.


Read more:

Angelique Kerber: German backed to complete career Grand Slam after Wimbledon triumph


Naomi Osaka

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the championship trophy after winning the Women's Singles finals match against Serena Williams of the United States on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.   Julian Finney/Getty Images/AFP
Naomi Osaka won her first grand slam title at the US Open this season. Reuters

The form player going into the tournament. Osaka, 21, held her nerve in difficult circumstances to deservedly win the US Open in September for a first major.

The Japanese No 1 also prevailed at Indian Wells in April, and her level has remained high since her success in New York with a runners-up spot in Tokyo and then a run to the semi-finals in Beijing.

The only doubt on the world No 4 may be tiredness following a hectic schedule, but she is undoubtedly the player to beat.


Read more:
Jon Turner: Get used to more speeches - Naomi Osaka has all the attributes to reach the very top


Sloane Stephens

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 04: Sloane Stephens of The United States reacts during the women's singles quarter-final match against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia on Day Nine of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.   Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP
Sloane Stephens' biggest win of the season came at the Miami Open. AFP

An encouraging year for the 25-year-old American that has proven her 2017 US Open title was no fluke.

Won in Miami and a runners-up spot at the French Open proved that when she is on song she can be difficult to face.

World No 8 Stephens' form has dropped off since her surprise exit to Anastasija Sevastova in the quarter-finals of this year's US Open, but she will be disappointed if she does not at least reach the semi-finals.

Kiki Bertens

MASON, OH - AUGUST 19: Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands reacts after defeating Simona Halep of Romania during the womens final during Day 9 of the Western and Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 19, 2018 in Mason, Ohio.   Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP
Kiki Bertens has won three WTA titles this season. AFP

The world No 10 is the late call-up to replace the injured Halep and she faces a tall order to make it out of the group, given the opponents she will face.

Her season highlight came in June when she beat Halep to win in Cincinnati, and a runners-up position in Madrid also showed what the 26-year-old Dutchwoman is capable of when she is at the top of her game.


SINGAPORE - OCTOBER 19:  Naomi Osaka of Japan on stage during the Official Draw Ceremony and Gala of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global at Marina Bay Sands Hotel on October 19, 2018 in Singapore.  (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka is in fine form and will look to cap off her breakthrough season with the WTA Finals title. Getty Images

The White Group is hard to call, but Wozniacki and Pliskova to make it through as the top two.

In the Red Group it will be Osaka and Stephens who reach the semi-finals.

Osaka has played the best tennis in recent months and she will cap a memorable 2018 by lifting the title, beating Stephens in the final.