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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 November 2018

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

The eight players who will contest the WTA Finals in Singapore next week. Getty Images
The eight players who will contest the WTA Finals in Singapore next week. Getty Images

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

Caroline Wozniacki won the Beijing Open title ahead of the WTA Finals. Reuters
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.

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Read more:

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

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Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova last won a WTA title at the Birmingham Open in June. Reuters
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

Elina Svitolina successfully defender her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship title. 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.

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Read more:

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

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Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova recently won the Tokyo Open title. AFP
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

Angelique Kerber won the Wimbledon title in July. Reuters
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.

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Read more:

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

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Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka won her first grand slam title at the US Open this season. Reuters
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.

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Read more:

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

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Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens' biggest win of the season came at the Miami Open. 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

Kiki Bertens has won three WTA titles this season. 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.

Predictions

Naomi Osaka is in fine form and will look to cap off her breakthrough season with the WTA Finals title. 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.