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Sport October 23, 2017   |  by

WTA Finals 2017: A Player-by-Player Guide

WTA Finals 2017 brings the stars of women’s tennis back in Singapore.

By Kurt Ganapathy
Featured photo: Paul Lakatos/Lagardère Sports

wta-2017-finals-singapore-wefie
The finalists for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global pose for a we-fie at the Singapore Merlion Park on October 20, 2017. From left to right: Caroline Garcia of France, Venus Williams of the USA,Simona Halep of Romania, Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, and Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, Garbine Muguruza of Spain, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark
Paul Lakatos/Lagardère Sports

It has been quite a year on the WTA Tour. Serena Williams expectedly won another Australian Open – and then took a break from tennis after announcing that she was expecting her first child; Venus Williams re-emerged as a force to be reckoned with; Maria Sharapova rejoined the fold amid a torrent of controversy; Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep had their maiden runs as world number one; and Jelena Ostapenko and Sloane Stephens picked up their first grand slam titles.

An unforgettable year for sure, but there’s still more tennis to be played. The concluding chapter of the 2017 season will be written from October 22 to 29 as the WTA Finals returns to Singapore for the fourth time.

The tournament features the world’s top singles players and doubles pairs, with the former playing a round-robin group stage prior to the knockout rounds.

Here are the eight singles aces who will compete for the Billie Jean King Trophy and a share of the US$7 million prize money.

From the Red Group

Simona Halep

World Ranking: 1
2017 Singles Prize Money:
US$4,323,957 (3rd)
WTA Finals Appearances:
4

The only singles player to have appeared at all WTA Finals tournaments held in Singapore, Simona Halep arrives for her fourth campaign as the newly-minted world number one. The Romanian’s record here has been mixed however – she was a finalist in 2014, but didn’t get past the group stage in 2015 or 2016. Highlights from her season include winning the Madrid Open and reaching the final of the French Open.

Elina Svitolina

World Ranking: 4
2017 Singles Prize Money: US$2,921,086 (7th)
WTA Finals Appearances: Debut

A player flying under the radar for most casual tennis fans, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina actually won more tournaments than any other singles player in 2017, reigning supreme at the Taiwan Open, Dubai Tennis Championships, Istanbul Cup, Italian Open and Canadian Open. Three of those wins came against players she’ll be facing in Singapore – Caroline Wozniacki (twice) and Simona Halep.

Caroline Wozniacki

World Ranking: 6
2017 Singles Prize Money: US$2,541,518 (11th)
WTA Finals Appearances: 5

Her resurgence might not have been as prominent as that of Venus Williams’, but Caroline Wozniacki has been enjoying her best season in a while. It was not without its challenges, though – the Dane reached seven tournament finals, more than any other player this year, but lost the first six (two of them to Pliskova on top of the aforementioned losses to Svitolina). She finally snapped the unwanted streak by winning the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Wozniacki will be making her fifth appearance at the WTA Finals; her best performance coming as a finalist in 2010.

Caroline Garcia

World Ranking: 8
2017 Singles Prize Money: US$2,854,361 (8th)
WTA Finals Appearances: Debut

Caroline Garcia was the last player to qualify for the WTA Finals 2017, securing her spot on October 12. A standard-bearer for French tennis, she’s the country’s first representative at the tournament since Amelie Mauresmo in 2006. Garcia collected her first trophy of the year at the Wuhan Open in September and followed it up with a win at the China Open just a week later.

From the White Group

Garbine Muguruza

World Ranking: 2
2017 Singles Prize Money: US$4,775,898 (1st)
WTA Finals Appearances: 3

This year’s prize money leader and WTA Player of the Year, Garbine Muguruza cemented her status of one of the game’s greatest contemporary exponents by winning her second grand slam title at Wimbledon. She would also go on to win the Cincinnati Open and occupy the world number one spot for four weeks later in the year. The Spanish-Venezuelan will be looking to improve on her WTA Finals record – she was eliminated in the semifinals in 2015 and the group stage last year.

Karolina Pliskova

World Ranking: 3
2017 Singles Prize Money: US$2,935,429 (6th)
WTA Finals Appearances: 2

The Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova got her year off to a great start by winning the Brisbane International before adding the Qatar Open and the Eastbourne International to her list of accolades. In July, she became world number one for the first time, ending the ten-month duel between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber for the top spot. Pliskova’s previous appearance at the WTA Finals last year ended in elimination at the group stage.

Venus Williams

World Ranking: 5
2017 Singles Prize Money: US$4,421,741 (2nd)
WTA Finals Appearances: 5

How great is it to see Venus Williams back at her best two decades on from her initial successes? Although she hasn’t yet won any titles in 2017, reaching the finals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and the all-American semifinals of the US Open, are remarkable achievements of their own. Showing just how much time Williams spent in the doldrums, this will be her first WTA Finals appearance since 2009. Williams is, however, the only player in the field who has won the tournament; she took home the trophy in 2008.

Jelena Ostapenko

World Ranking: 7
2017 Singles Prize Money: US$3,557,198 (5th)
WTA Finals Appearances: Debut

Surprises in sport don’t often come bigger than Jelena Ostapenko’s triumph at Roland-Garros. Ostapenko became the first Latvian to win a grand slam, the first unseeded woman to win the French Open in more than 80 years, and the first player to claim a grand slam as their first title since Gustavo Kuerten at the 1997 French Open. The third of those feats was uniquely supplemented by the fact that Kuerten’s victory occurred on the day she was born. Ostapenko also won the Korea Open in September.

The WTA Finals 2017 is on from October 22 to 29 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Tickets are priced from S$27, get yours via the WTA Finals website, or catch all the action on Hub Sports.

Read More: US Open 2017: 5 Storylines Worth Losing Sleep Over