An incredibly talented field featuring 4 Grand Slam champions and 4 Grand Slam finalists has landed in Singapore for the inaugural BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SCglobal. This years season finale promises to be one of the best yet, Two time defending champion Serena Williams will of course start as favourite, however the world number 1 has certainly not been at her dominant best throughout 2014 and enters this event under an injury. Come Sunday, all seven of the remaining competitors have a legitimate chance to hoist the Billie Jean King Trophy.
The groups for this year’s season finale are delightfully even; I don't believe there is a strong group (in contrast to previous years).
(1) Serena Williams
(4) Simona Halep
(5) Eugenie Bouchard
(7) Ana Ivanovic
All four members of the red group arrive in Singapore on the back of walkover losses; it’s fair to say that this group can be considered the out of form group. Injury concerns are always a common theme at this time of the year; this group is full of injury concerns!
The red group is spearheaded by world number 1 and two-time defending champion Serena Williams. Serena has had a slightly disappointing season by her incredibly high standards. Serena’s Grand Slam results were particularly disappointing, failing to reach the quarter-finals at the first three Slams. During the North American hard court season, Serena managed to turn things around, claiming three titles including the U.S Open, Stanford and Cincinnati. We all know that if Serena is fully fit she is unbeatable in events like this, however at it is highly likely that Serena will be compromised by injury this week. Serena enters this tournament under an injury cloud; the American was forced to Retire in Wuhan and withdrew from Beijing prior to her quarter-final meeting with Ana Ivanovic sighting a left knee injury. We all know that if Serena is fully fit she is unbeatable in events like this, however at it is highly likely that Serena will be compromised by injury this week.
Serena will face both Eugenie Boucahrd and Simona Halep for the first time in season 2014.
Simona also enters Singapore under an injury cloud. Simona suffered an uncharacteristic loss to Garbine Muguruza in Wuhan before handing a walkover victory to Ana Ivanovic in Beijing. After reaching her first Grand Slam final in Paris and backing it up with a solid run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon, Simona has struggled. Disappointing losses to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Magdalena Rybarikova during the North American swing, the low points in the Romanian season. If Simona can find some of her early season form, she is certainly a strong contender to come through this group.
Eugenie Bouchard is the third member of the red group, the third member of the group to enter the tournament with injury concerns. Bouchard’s successes this season have been well documented, a stunning run to the final at Wimbledon and semi-final appearances at the Australian Open and Roland Garros the highlights of the Canadian season. Genie’s North American hard court season didn't pan out as the Canadian would have liked, a left leg injury has hindered Genie’s performances, condemning her to several disappointing losses, most notably a three set opening round loss to Shelby Rogers at her home in Montreal. Genie turned things around in Wuhan where she reached the final of the inaugural event. Genie has nothing to lose this week and if reasonably fit she is capable of anything.
The final member of the red group is Serbian Ana Ivanovic. Ana has been more consistent than any other member of the red group this season. Ivanovic has won an incredible 57 matches this season, including four titles, one on each surface. However Ana’s Grand Slam results have been comparatively disappointing, reaching just one Quarter-final (at the Australian Open). Perhaps her most disappointing result came at the US Open where she was knocked out in the second round by Karolina Pliskova. Given her poor performances at the biggest events this season, Ana will be extra motivated to perform well this week in Singapore.
Predictions: 1. Serena Williams 2. Eugene Boucahrd 3. Simona Halep 4. Ana Ivanovic
I’m hesitantly going for Serena to top the group. I wouldn't be surprised to see her struggle this week but equally I wouldn't be surprised to see her at her dominant best. Second place is totally up for grabs. At this stage, my early prediction is for Eugenie Bouchard to grab second spot. Boucahrd has consistently performed well at the big events in 2014 and matches up well against Ana and Simona.
(2) Maria Sharapova
(3) Petra Kvitova
(6) Agnieszka Radwanska
(8) Caroline Wozniacki
The white group features the most in from players on tour heading into Singapore. Both Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova were in brilliant form at recent events in China. Petra claimed the inaugural Wuhan Open title whilst Maria reigned supreme in Beijing. Add a resurgent Caroline Wozniacki and the ever so capable Agnieszka Radwanska to the group and we have a group to get very excited about!
Maria Sharapova arrives in Singapore full of confidence after claiming her fourth title of the season in Beijing just a couple of weeks ago. Maria has had an extremely impressive season; the highlight of her year came in Paris where she won her second Roland Garros title, defeating Simona Halep in a thriller. The majority of Maria’s finest results this year came during the clay court season, winning titles in Stuttgart and Madrid alongside her Roland Garros title. Unlike many of her competitors this week, Maria seems to be fresh and fully fit, ready for a real a shot at the title in Singapore. Maria has positive head-to-head record against her three fellow competitors in the white group, and will therefore be considered the favourite to top the group.
Petra Kvitova also arrives in Singapore full of confidence on the back of impressive results during the Asian swing. Petra won in the inaugural Wuhan Open in the midst of a 9 match-winning streak in China. Her run finally came to an end when she lost out to Maria Sharapova in the final of the Beijing Open. Petra’s season was highlighted by a stunning Wimbledon campaign, dropping just one set on route to her second Wimbledon crown. The manner in which she dominated the final against Eugenie Bouchard put an exclamation mark on the title. A year that started out disastrously poorly at the Australian Open may well end in glory for the Czech number 1.
Agnieszka Radwanska will compete in her 6th WTA Championships this week in Singapore, however the Pole arrives in Singapore deprived of confidence, given her extremely disappointing results at the US Open and during the Asian Swing. Aga’s season started of so well, reaching her first ever Australian Open semi-final but since then her season has been filled with frustration and disappointment. Her first and only title of the year in Montréal was a rare highlight in what has been an uncharacteristic season for the Pole. Out of all the competitors this week, Aga probably has the most to play for given her horrendous defeats at all four of the Grand Slams this year. The Pole has had a couple of weeks off to prepare for this event and is certainly capable of turning her form around in Singapore.
The fourth and final member of the white group is Caroline Wozniacki. The former number had an extremely poor start to the season. A first round exit at Roland Garros coupled with a shock break up with partner Rory Mcilroy the low point of the Danes year. At the commencement of the grass court season, Wozniacki was able to turn things around at Eastbourne where she reached the semi-finals. Wozniacki then went on to win her first title of the year in Istanbul before going on an extremely impressive run during the North American swing. The Dane reached the pointy end at Stanford and Cincinnati but was twice defeated by Serena Williams in a close three set match. The highlight of Wozniacki’s season came in New York where she reached her second Grand Slam final but again she fell short against Serena. Wozniacki continued her impressive form in Asia, reaching semi-finals in Tokyo and Wuhan. Caroline will be a dangerous opponent this week.
Predictions: 1. Maria Sharapova 2. Agnieszka Radwanska 3. Petra Kvitova 4. Caroline Wozniacki
On paper, Maria and Petra should come through this group. However Caroline and Aga are always tricky opponents and are well and truly capable of progressing. It’s imposable for me to pick who will come though this group at this stage; I will probably change my mind at some stage. At the moment I think Maria will claim top spot in this group whilst a resurgent Agnieszka Radwanska will claim second spot. Petra has been playing extremely well, however she seemed to hit a wall in Beijing and therefore I believe she could potentially be vulnerable this week.
Champion Prediction: Maria Sharapova def. Serena Williams (CRAZY, I KNOW)
At this stage, I’m backing Maria Sharapova to claim the title this week. I’m not convinced about Serena at the moment, and yes she owns Maria but if there were ever a good time for Maria to run into Serena I think it would be in the final here. Maria arrives in Singapore with momentum and seemingly injury free, a very important combination at this time of the year. The title is completely up for grabs this week; any one of the eight ladies could win it! I can’t wait for the action to begin; I hope the event lives up to my high expectations ☺