Aryna Sabalenka vs. Ashleigh Barty, Zhuhai RR Preview

WTA Elite Trophy, Group Stage: 🇧🇾 (3) Aryna Sabalenka vs. 🇦🇺 (9) Ashleigh Barty

The 2018 WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai begins on Tuesday when Aryna Sabalenka takes on Ashleigh Barty. This will be the third installment of this match-up in 2018, the previous two matches were very tight and there is no reason to suggest that this match will be any different. Who will edge ahead into the H2H here?

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in action during the quarter-final at the 2018 China Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Aryna Sabalenka has been one of the form players on tour over the last couple of months and will look to end an outstanding season on a high in Zhuhai. Sabalenka has won 24 of her last 30 matches since a shock loss in the San Jose qualifying. Sabalenka’s hot-streak saw her win titles in New Haven and Wuhan. Most recently Sabalenka did suffer a disappointing quarter-final loss to Timea Bacsinszky in Tianjin, after a few weeks rest Sabalenka should be better positioned physically heading into her first appearance in Zhuhai.

Ash Barty will be competing in Zhuhai for the second consecutive season, Barty made it to the semi-finals in 2017 and will look to go one step further in 2018. Most of Barty’s recent success has again be on the doubles court but she has had some good results of late in singles too. Barty made it to the semi-finals in Wuhan and a little further back she reached the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in New York. Barty was in Singapore last week competing in the doubles event at the WTA Finals where she was eliminated at the semi-final stage.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Barty defeated Sabalenka at the Australian Open 6-7 6-4 6-4 whilst more recently Sabalenka won 7-6 6-4 at the semi-final stage in Wuhan.

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Elise Mertens vs. Anett Kontaveit, Zhuhai RR Preview

WTA Elite Trophy, Group Stage: 🇧🇪 (4) Elise Mertens vs. 🇪🇪 (10) Anett Kontaveit

A pair of Zhuhai debutants will go head-to-head when Elise Mertens takes on Anett Kontaveit on Tuesday. Mertens and Kontaveit are at similar stages in their careers right now, both have had career best seasons and both will be keen to end fantastic seasons on a high. This should be an entertaining battle between two young stars on the rise.

Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in action during her third-round match at the 2018 China Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Elise Mertens has had an outstanding season but her singles form has deteriorated over the last couple of months. Mertens arrives in Zhuhai having lost 4 of her last 6 matches in singles. On the doubles court, Mertens is still going strong having won the title in Wuhan alongside Demi Schuur, the pair competed at the WTA Finals in Singapore last week where they lost their opening round match. Mertens has recently announced that she has split with her former coach, she will now be working with David Taylor, a very, very experienced coach. It will be interesting to see what impact that has on Mertens in her Zhuhai debut.

Anett Kontaveit is battle hardened heading into her first Zhuhai campaign. Kontaveit had a long Asian swing which was highlighted by a run to the final in Wuhan. Most recently the Estonian reached the quarter-finals in Moscow. It has been a career best season for Kontaveit and she gets one last chance to impressive in Zhuhai. Kontaveit has generally done pretty well at big events in 2018 so she is one to watch out for this week, if she plays her best she can be very dangerous to any opponent.

The only previous match between the pair to place in Biel last year, Kontaveit claimed a 7-6 6-7 6-1 victory.

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Daria Kasatkina vs. Qiang Wang, Zhuhai RR Preview

WTA Elite Trophy, Group Stage: 🇷🇺 (1) Daria Kasatkina vs. 🇨🇳 (11) Qiang Wang

The first night session match of the 2018 Elite Trophy Zhuhai is an exciting encounter between the top seeded Daria Kasatkina and China’s number 1 Qiang Wang. Kasatkina and Wang both arrive in Zhuhai full of confidence given their recent successes. Expect a high quality match.

Qiang Wang of China in action during her semi-final match at the 2018 Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open WTA International tennis tournament

Daria Kasatkina arrives in Zhuhai on a high having won the Kremlin Cup a few weeks ago. As a result of winning the Kremlin Cup, Kasatkina was the first alternate in Singapore where she has been training over the last week but did not get the opportunity to play a match. Kasatkina’s title run at home in Moscow was a big relief for the Russian having generally been in poor form during the second half of the year and having lost her 3 previous finals. Kasatkina will be competing in Zhuhai for the first time, with the added pressure of being the top seed.

Qiang Wang has been one of the form players on tour over the last few months. Wang originally received a wild card event but ultimately qualified on her own merits because of her great recent form. Wang has won 19 of her last 23 matches and has reached at least the semi-final stage in all 5 of her most recent events. It is clear that Wang is a player on the rise under the guidance of Peter McNamara. At home, in China, it will be interesting to see if Wang can continue to shine and potentially become the first Chinese player to win this title. This will be the first time Wang has competed in Zhuhai.

Kasatkina holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Wang. The most recent match between the pair took place earlier this year in Madrid, Kasatkina won 7-5 7-6. The three prior matches between the pair all went the distance, this has proven to be tight match-up.

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Sloane Stephens vs. Elina Svitolina, Singapore Final Preview

🇸🇬 WTA FINALS, Singapore – Final Preview
🇺🇸 (5) Sloane Stephens vs. 🇺🇦 (6) Elina Svitolina

Sunday’s final in Singapore promises to be a blockbuster encounter as Sloane Stephens takes on Elina Svitolina. Stephens and Svitolina have undoubtedly been the two best players all week, each winning all of their group stage matches plus tough semi-final victories. On paper this is an extremely even match-up, both have very similar strengths and weaknesses and have both been playing great tennis this week. Who will raise their level when it matters most to claim a maiden WTA Finals crown?

Sloane Stephens’ route to the Final:

RR1: Naomi Osaka 7-5 4-6 6-1
RR2: Kiki Bertens 7-6 2-6 6-3
RR3: Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-3
SF: Karolina Pliskova 0-6 6-4 6-1

Sloane Stephens of the United States in action during her semifinal match at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Sloane Stephens made a miraculous recovery to book her spot in the Singapore final. Stephens trailed Karolina Pliskova 0-6 0-2 15-40 and was seemingly down and out. Stephens managed to break from 40-15 down as she went on to win 12 of the last 15 games. Once Stephens got going her athleticism was too much for Pliskova to handle, this has been the case for each of Sloane’s opponents this week. If anyone can match Sloane’s athleticism it is a red-hot Svitolina…

Elina Svitolina’s route to the Final:

RR1: Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-3
RR2: Karolina Pliskova 6-3 2-6 6-3
RR3: Caroline Wozniacki 5-7 7-5 6-3
SF: Kiki Bertens 7-5 6-7 6-4

Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine in action during her semifinal at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Elina Svitolina has produced the best tennis we have seen from her since the first half of the year where she won 3 titles. Svitolina has overcome several tough situations to reach the biggest final of her career. Svitolina’s greatest test came at the semi-final stage where she battled past Kiki Bertens in 3 extremely tight sets. The standout feature of Svitolina’s week has been her outstanding attitude and toughness in the critical moments, it has been Svitolina at her very best.

Sloane Stephens has the slight edge in the H2H between the pair, leading 2-1. Stephens has won both of the previous matches between the two on a hard court, including a 6-3 6-3 victory at the semi-final stage in Montreal earlier this year.

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Sloane Stephens vs. Karolina Pliskova, Singapore SF Preview

🇸🇬 WTA Finals, Singapore SF #2 Preview
🇺🇸 (5) Sloane Stephens vs. 🇨🇿 (7) Karolina Pliskova

Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova will go head-to-head in the second semi-final of the day in Singapore. This match-up features a big contrast in styles, the great versatility and athleticism of Stephens against the rangy power of Pliskova. Stephens has been extremely impressive on throughout the week, winning all 3 of her matches on route to the semi-finals, as a result Stephens enters this match as the favourite and should be a very tough opponent for Pliskova.

Karolina Pliskova’s route to the semi-finals:

(W) vs. Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4
(L) vs. Elina Svitolina 6-3 2-6 6-3
(W) vs. Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-4

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic celebrates wining her second match at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Karolina Pliskova is through to the semi-finals in Singapore for the second year in a row in her third consecutive appearance at the event. Pliskova started her Singapore campaign in style with a commanding straight set win over Caroline Wozniacki. Pliskova put herself in a tough position with a 3 set loss to Elina Svitolina but rebounded strongly to claim her first ever win over Petra Kvitova and confirm a spot in the final 4. Interestingly Pliskova stated that she was feeling fatigued after her loss to Svitolina, Kvitova provided little resistance so it is hard to know how much to read into that win and whether or not fatigue is still an issue for Pliskova after a long month. Pliskova has been playing sensible tennis this week, playing much more conservatively than she has in the past.

Sloane Stephens’ route to the semi-finals:

(W) vs. Naomi Osaka 7-5 4-6 6-1
(W) vs. Kiki Bertens 7-6 2-6 6-3
(W) vs. Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-3

Sloane Stephens of the United States in action during her third match at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Sloane Stephens entered Singapore in poor form having struggled to win matches during the Asian swing. Nevertheless, Stephens has flicked the switch as is often the case for the American at big events. Stephens topped the red group having won all 3 of her matches. Stephens started her WTA Finals debut with tough 3 set wins over Naomi Osaka and Kiki Bertens. Stephens faced Kerber in the last group stage match with the winner set to progress, it was Stephens who far more clutch, winning in straight sets to top the red group. The ability of Stephens to win the big points was key to her win over Kerber, a sign that she is confident right now.

Stephens has the slight edge in the head-to-head record having won 2 of their 3 previous encounters. Stephens won the first two matches between the pair in straight sets, most recently it was Pliskova who won 6-2 6-3 in Madrid earlier this year. Expect a very different result in Singapore.

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Elina Svitolina vs. Kiki Bertens, Singapore SF Preview

🇸🇬 WTA Finals, Singapore SF #1 Preview
🇺🇦 (6) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇳🇱 (8) Kiki Bertens

Saturday’s first semi-final in Singapore sees Elina Svitolina take on Kiki Bertens. This is a huge opportunity for both players, both will be competing at the semi-final stage at the WTA Finals for the first time from limited experience at the event. Svitolina was the most impressive player in the white group, winning all 3 of her matches whilst Bertens continues to defy the odds in 2018. Svitolina will enter this match as the favourite but Bertens fancies an upset, she has secured the most top 10 wins of any player in 2018, can she do it again here?

Elina Svitolina’s route to the semi-finals:

(W) vs. Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-3
(W) vs. Karolina Pliskova 6-3 2-6 6-3
(W) vs. Caroline Wozniacki 5-7 7-5 6-3

Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine celebrates qualifying for the semifinal stage of the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Elina Svitolina has been back to her fighting best in Singapore this week, playing with the perfect mix aggression and defense. Svitolina’s form was poor heading into Singapore but she has been the most impressive player throughout the group stage. Svitolina won all 3 of her matches in the white group including a couple of tough 3 set victories. Svitolina started her second consecutive Singapore campaign with a reasonably comfortable straight set win over Petra Kvitova before battling past Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki in 3 sets to reach the final 4 at the WTA Finals for the first time. Svitolina’s win over Wozniacki was particularly impressive, it was Svitolina who came out on top in the critical second set, a gutsy effort to outlast a desperate Wozniacki. Svitolina has been fired up all tournament, clearly desperate to reverse her form slump and end the year on a high.

Kiki Bertens’ route to the semi-finals:

(W) vs. Angelique Kerber 1-6 6-3 6-4
(L) vs. Sloane Stephens 6-7 6-2 3-6
(W) vs. Naomi Osaka 6-3 RET.

Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in action during her third match at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Kiki Bertens is only playing in Singapore because of the late withdrawal of Simona Halep. Bertens is certainly making the most of this opportunity by reaching the final 4 in her WTA Finals debut. Bertens started the event with a great comeback win against Angelique Kerber, Bertens came from 1-6 0-2 down to beat Kerber before succumbing to Sloane Stephens in a tight 3 set match. Bertens secured her spot in the semi-finals with a victory via retirement over Naomi Osaka, another fortunate break for Bertens. Bertens will face her biggest test yet against Svitolina in the semi-finals.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Svitolina defeated Bertens in 3 sets in Zhuhai in 2016 whilst more recently Bertens claimed a 6-4 6-3 win at the quarter-final stage in Cincinnati earlier this year. This is an interesting match-up because of the contrast in styles, the type of match-up that seemingly lends itself to producing close matches.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Kiki Bertens, Singapore RR Preview

WTA Finals Singapore, Red group match preview
🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇳🇱 (8) Kiki Bertens

Naomi Osaka entered the WTA Finals as the favourite to win the title but is in big danger of succumbing at the group stage after losing her first couple of matches in Singapore. Despite the losses, Osaka still has a chance to reach the semi-finals if she can beat Kiki Bertens on Friday, plus she will need to rely on results to fall her way in the other match of the day. Bertens has got a win to her name this week but she also needs to win this match to advance to the semi-finals. Who will claim the all-important victory?

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during her second match at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka has suffered two fairly similar loses to start her Singapore campaign. Osaka was beaten by Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber in 3 sets, on both occasions she lost the first set before hitting back in the second but ultimately faltering in the decider. Osaka has not been as sharp as we have seen in previous months, making far more unforced errors from the baseline and not serving at her best. Perhaps the pressure has got to Osaka as she has looked quite fragile on court at times this week. Osaka is a Grand Slam champion for a reason so don’t dismiss a response from her in the final group stage match.

Kiki Bertens was the last to confirm her place in Singapore but she has certainly not looked like the worst player in the field. Bertens started the tournament with a big 3 set win over Angelique Kerber from a set and 0-2 down. It was a great start for Bertens in her debut at the WTA finals but she could not get over the line in her next match against Sloane Stephens where she let an early lead slip in the deciding set. Bertens essentially has nothing to lose this week, of all the players in the draw she realistically has the least pressure to deal with as it is a bonus for her to just be competing at this event.

It was Osaka who won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-4 6-2 win in Acapulco in 2016. Both players have made significant improvements since that meeting so it will be interesting to see how this match-up unfolds on this occasion.

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Angelique Kerber vs. Sloane Stephens, Singapore RR Preview

WTA Finals Singapore, Red group match preview
🇩🇪 (1) Angelique Kerber vs. 🇺🇸 (5) Sloane Stephens

The final red group match in Singapore sees the top seeded Angelique Kerber take on the a red-hot Sloane Stephens in what will be one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament thus far. Stephens tops the group heading into this match having won her first few matches whilst Kerber has 1 win and 1 loss to her name this week. Stephens has had the better of this match-up of late and will be confident in claiming a 5th consecutive win over the German.

Sloane Stephens of the United States in action during her second match at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Angelique Kerber made a disappointing start to the tournament where she lost from a set and 2-0 up against Kiki Bertens. Kerber responded in a typically gutsy fashion with a fighting 3 set win over Naomi Osaka. Kerber was seemingly struggling with a back injury throughout the later stages of her win with Osaka but she was able to dig deep and tough out a win. Kerber’s ability to absorb the pace of Osaka was key and she also played aggressive tennis more often than she usually would. It will be interesting to see how Kerber responds against Stephens.

Sloane Stephens enters this match full of confidence having won her first couple of matches in the red group. Stephens required 3 lengthy sets to claim victories over Naomi Osaka and Kiki Bertens to almost guarantee her place in the semi-finals in her WTA Finals debut. The attitude of Stephens throughout her first few matches has been most impressive, it is clear that Stephens means business this week and when that is the case she is one of the toughest players on tour to defeat.

Stephens holds a commanding 4-1 head-to-head record over Kerber. It was Kerber who won the first meeting between the pair in 2012, since then Stephens has won 4 consecutive matches, all in straight sets. The most recent match between the pair was at the quarter-final stage in Miami earlier this year, Stephens won very comfortably 6-1 6-2.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs. Elina Svitolina, Singapore RR Preview

WTA Finals Singapore, White Group match preview
🇩🇰 (2) Caroline Wozniacki vs. 🇺🇦 (6) Elina Svitolina

The final match from the white group will see defending champion Caroline Wozniacki take on a red-hot Elina Svitolina in what looms as a blockbuster match. This match will be critical in deciding who advances to the semi-finals in the white group. Svitolina is in prime position after winning her few matches but she is not guaranteed a position in the semi-finals. Wozniacki must win this match to have a chance of qualifying but may need to win in straight sets depending on the previous result.

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in action during her second match at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Caroline Wozniacki started her title defense in Singapore with a disappointing straight set loss to Karolina Pliskova. Wozniacki rebounded strongly as she defeated Petra Kvitova in 3 sets. Wozniacki’s willingness to be a bit more aggressive in the important moments was part of why she got over the line against Kvitova and she will need to be very aggressive if she is to beat Svitolina on Thursday, an opponent she has struggled against in the past.

Elina Svitolina has been the most impressive player of the tournament thus far. Svitolina started her Singapore campaign with a straight set win over Petra Kvitova and continued her strong form in the next match where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets. The second half of the season has been disappointing for Svitolina but she can finish the season off on a high in Singapore. Svitolina’s level over the first few matches this week is arguably the best she has played since Rome earlier this year.

Svitolina holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Wozniacki. Svitolina won the first 3 matches between the pair including 2 commanding straight set wins in a pair of finals in Dubai and Toronto last year. The most recent match between the pair was in Singapore last year where Wozniacki won 6-2 6-0 against a wayward Svitolina.

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Petra Kvitova vs. Karolina Pliskova, Singapore RR Preview

WTA Finals Singapore, White Group match preview
🇨🇿 (4) Petra Kvitova vs. 🇨🇿 (7) Karolina Pliskova

Fed Cup teammates Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova will go head-to-head in Thursday’s first match from the white group. Kvitova has lost her first two matches this week whilst Pliskova has 1 win and 1 loss to her name. Nevertheless, both Kvitova and Pliskova still have a chance of progressing to the semi-finals, so everything is to play for here. Kvitova has a perfect 3-0 record over Pliskova but it is Pliskova who has generally been in the better form of late, can Pliskova finally secure her first win over Pliskova?

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action during her second match at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Petra Kvitova has been one of the biggest disappointments of the tournament. Kvitova lost her first match of the week to Elina Svitolina in straight sets before succumbing to Caroline Wozniacki in 3 sets. Kvitova often went for too much in her loss to Svitolina and seemingly tried too hard to reverse that as she was often too passive against Wozniacki. It was strange to see Kvitova willing to get into rallies with Wozniacki and frequently not attack short ball, that tactic backfired and now leaves Kvitova requiring a straight set win here and then relying on Svitolina beating Wozniacki in the next match to progress to the semi-finals.

Karolina Pliskova made a positive start to her third consecutive WTA Finals campaign with a straight set win over defending champion Caroline Wozniacki. However, Pliskova was unable to get over the line against Elina Svitolina in her next match, succumbing in 3 sets. Pliskova admitted after the match that she felt tired after all her recent matches and travels. Pliskova will need to rebound strongly and find more energy if she is to defeat a desperate Petra Kvitova for the first time in her career.

Kvitova enters this match with a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record over Pliskova. The most recent match between the pair took place in Madrid earlier this year, Kvitova won that match 7-6 6-3. Interestingly Kvitova has gone on to win the title every time she has beaten Pliskova.

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