We’re into the last stretch of the 2017 WTA season and as usual, the season ends with the most prestigious WTA tournament of the year, the WTA Finals in Singapore. The eight players to qualify for Singapore have already been announced, and the draw has also been done already! In this post I will have profiles of all the eight women and break down their chances to lift the Billie Jean King trophy at the end of next week…
 Simona Halep (No.1)
Best moments of the season: After a dire start to the season, Simona Halep absolutely tore through the clay court swing, amassing a 20-3 record. She was equally impressive in Beijing where a improved serve and mentality helped her to exact revenge on three opponents who beat her this year – Jelena Ostapenko, Daria Kasatkina and Maria Sharapova. Reaching the final there, she finally managed to capture the No.1 ranking on her fourth attempt.
Worst moments of the season: Halep was definitely one of the most consistent players of the season, but at the start you definitely wouldn’t label her as that – she went 4-4 in her first four tournaments, struggling with an injury. The loss to Ostapenko in the RG final definitely hurt a lot too, as she also lost the opportunity to reach No.1. As aforementioned, she actually needed four tries to No.1 – losses to Johanna Konta in Wimbledon and Garbine Muguruza in Cincinnati were the other two attempts. Halep also performed poorly on the hard court Slams, losing in the first round of both.
Important stat: Even though the clay swing is way shorter than on the hard courts, Halep actually won an equal amount of matches on both surfaces – 20. Halep’s record on hard courts this year is 20-10.
Win-loss record in 2017: 46-15
Titles in 2017: 1 (Madrid)
Record against top 10 players in 2017: 5-4
2017 Grand Slam results: AO – 1R (i. Rogers)
RG – Final (i. Ostapenko)
Wimby – QF (i. Konta)
US Open – 1R (i. Sharapova)
WTA Finals win-loss record: Fourth appearance, 5-6 record (2014 F, 2015-2016 RR)
 Garbine Muguruza (No.2)
Best moments of the season: Garbine Muguruza has been uber-inconsistent in the past few years but this year the consistency has been pretty much there, reaching 11 quarterfinals in 2017 compared to seven in both 2015 and 2016. The Wimbledon triumph was super impressive where she maintained her composure and only lost one set enroute, and how she backed up it with the Cincinnati title was equally impressive considering her flop last year after winning Roland Garros. Muguruza also got to the No.1 spot from the US Open onwards till Beijing.
Worst moments of the season: Muguruza has suffered a couple of horrible losses this year – when she’s at her worst, she is really bad. Losses to Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo (6-2 6-0), Madison Keys in Stanford (6-3 6-2), Barbora Strycova in Eastbourne (6-1 6-0) and Timea Bacsinszky (6-1 6-3) prove this point.
Important stat: Another worst moment of Muguruza’s season was how many times she retired on court – SIX times, including in her most recent tournament in Beijing. In my opinion she really needs to be at her best in Singapore as from past experiences, the court can be slow at times thus her defense and offense skills will need to be at peak.
Win-loss record in 2017: 46-19
Titles in 2017: 2 (Wimbledon, Cincinnati)
Record against top 10 players in 2017: 7-5
2017 Grand Slam results: AO – QF (i. Vandeweghe)
RG – 4R (i. Mladenovic)
Wimby – Winner (d. V.Williams)
US Open – 4R (i. Kvitova)
WTA Finals win-loss record: Third appearance, 4-3 record (2015 SF, 2016 RR)
 Karolina Pliskova (No.3)
Best moments of the season: Another player who has sometimes failed in consistency is Karolina Pliskova. However she overturned that in 2017, reaching 14 quarterfinals in 19 events. Compared to 2015, her breakthrough season where she played 28 events, Pliskova only reached 11 quarterfinals. She also has improved on the big stages – since reaching a second week for the first time in a Grand Slam at the 2016 US Open, she reached the second week thrice in four of the Slam events. Obviously getting to the No.1 ranking after Wimbledon till the US Open is another high moment of Pliskova’s 2017.
Worst moments of the season: The only Slam event that Pliskova didn’t reach the second week was Wimbledon, and she was actually highly picked to win it (including myself) after capturing the Eastbourne title a week before. Pliskova also split with her coach David Kotyza after the US Open and is ‘coachless’ as of now. (UPDATE: It seems like Pliskova has stolen Barbora Strycova’s coach for the 2018 season! Read more about it here…)
Important stat: After winning the first set, Pliskova is 42-3 in matches, a really vital stat she would want to improve even further in Singapore where all the top players are capable of mounting comebacks.
Win-loss record in 2017: 51-16
Titles in 2017: 3 (Brisbane, Doha, Eastbourne)
Record against top 10 players in 2017: 6-4
2017 Grand Slam results: AO – QF (i. Lucic-Baroni)
RG – SF (i. Halep)
Wimby – 2R (i. Rybarikova)
US Open – QF (i. Vandeweghe)
WTA Finals win-loss record: Second appearance, 1-2 record (2016 RR)
 Elina Svitolina (No.4)
Best moments of the season: Prior to 2017, Elina Svitolina was dubbed as International queen having won four titles in that tier but none in the Premiers. However she proved the haters wrong this year, winning three out of the five Premier 5 events this year. She actually amassed a 5-0 record in finals this year and 9-2 in her whole career. That’s super impressive!
Worst moments of the season: Definitely her quarterfinal defeat to Halep in the French Open, where she was leading by a set and 5-1 up, including a match point, but she just choked from there on. She also hasn’t done extremely well in the Slams – other than RG, she failed to reach the quarterfinals at the other three Slams.
Important stat: You would find below that Svitolina has a 10-3 record against fellow top 10 players, which is the best out of all these eight players.
Win-loss record in 2017: 52-12
Titles in 2017: 5 (Taipei, Dubai, Istanbul, Rome, Toronto)
Record against top 10 players in 2017: 10-3
2017 Grand Slam results: AO – 3R (i. Pavlyuchenkova)
RG – QF (i. Halep)
Wimby – 4R (i. Ostapenko)
US Open – 4R (i. Keys)
WTA Finals win-loss record:
 Venus Williams (No.5)
Best moments of the season: Venus Williams’ record at all the four Grand Slams. She thrived in that aspect, reaching the finals in Australia and Wimbledon, and the semifinals in NYC. Reaching the quarterfinals in Indian Wells was also a high moment – it was her first win at the tournament since 2001 where we all know what happened then…
Worst moments of the season: Apart from her home events at Indian Wells and Miami and the Slams, Williams has compiled an 8-6 record. Her most notable run at a WTA event was in Rome, where she made the quarterfinals.
Important stat: As aforementioned, Venus has done so well at the Slams (20-4 record) and considering that she has the most experience at this kind of events than the other players, it is going to be important playing against newbies such as Svitolina, Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia here.
Win-loss record in 2017: 35-12
Titles in 2017: –
Record against top 10 players in 2017: 4-3
2017 Grand Slam results: AO – Final (i. S.Williams)
RG – 4R (i. Bacsinszky)
Wimby – F (i. Muguruza)
US Open – SF (i. Stephens)
WTA Finals win-loss record: Seventh appearance, 11-5 record (2008 winner, 2009 Final)
 Caroline Wozniacki (No.6)
Best moments of the season: Definitely the best moment was when Caroline Wozniacki broke her six-match losing streak in finals against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Tokyo. That kept her at least one title every year record alive, dating back to 2008.
Worst moments of the season: Clear-cut – her performances at the Slams and the losses in the finals. If you look closely, her losses in the Slams were all to those big hitters – Johanna Konta, Ostapenko, CoCo Vandeweghe and Ekaterina Makarova. Though she is trying to play more aggressive in her matches (that has been so impressive this year), she can back off a tad against big hitters. Other losses this year to big hitters include Shelby Rogers, Pliskova and Petra Kvitova.
Important stat: If you scroll down to the bottom, you can see that Wozniacki’s record at the WTA Finals hasn’t been that good at all, and it really matters with the unique round robin format here. Under performing at the important moments this year could also cost the Dane in Singapore.
Win-loss record in 2017: 56-20
Titles in 2017: 1 (Tokyo Premier)
Record against top 10 players in 2017: 10-5
2017 Grand Slam results: AO – 3R (i. Konta)
RG – QF (i. Ostapenko)
Wimby – 4R (i. Vandeweghe)
US Open – 2R (i. Makarova)
WTA Finals win-loss record: Fifth appearance, 8-8 record (2010 Final)
 Jelena Ostapenko (No.7)
Best moments of the season: Definitely for Ostapenko it is winning the title in the French Open! Ranked No.47 in the world at that time, Ostapenko stunned Samantha Stosur, Wozniacki and Halep enroute to her first Grand Slam. How she backed up the title with a quarterfinal run in Wimbledon is pretty awesome too.
Worst moments of the season: After Wimbledon, Ostapenko continued her inconsistent ways, only winning two matches throughout the whole US hard court swing. It is also rumored that after the 2017 season, her coach, Anabel Medina Garrigues who has been a huge help to her, would be splitting from her team.
Important stat: Though she has been dominating her lower-ranked players, against the top 10 players she hasn’t been that impressive (scroll below). Ostapenko will need to be composed and play with controlled aggression if she is to get through the round robin stage.
Win-loss record in 2017: 47-18
Titles in 2017: 2 (French Open, Seoul)
Record against top 10 players in 2017: 3-5
2017 Grand Slam results: AO – 3R (i. Ka.Pliskova)
RG – Winner (d. Halep)
Wimby – QF (i. V.Williams)
US Open – 3R (i. Kasatkina)
WTA Finals win-loss record: First appearance
 Caroline Garcia (No.9)
Best moments of the season: Reaching the quarterfinals in her home Slam was definitely a huge achievement for Caroline Garcia and it worked as a stepping stone for her, continually producing consistent results from then on. Garcia however was still really far away from the Singapore top 8 but she produced a miracle, winning Wuhan and Beijing back-to-back to secure a spot after Johanna Konta confirmed she was going to be out for the rest of the season.
Worst moments of the season: Probably that infamous squabble with Kristina Mladenovic and then the ‘LOL’ incident with the rest of the French Fed Cup team. She also was struggling with a back injury during some parts of the season. However I feel that it was these incidents that helped improved Garcia’s mentality and made her stronger and stronger.
Important stat: It will be Garcia’s first appearance at the WTA Finals and she hasn’t done well at the Slams in the past. She will need to control her nerves if she is to qualify out of the round robin stage.
Win-loss record in 2017: 46-20
Titles in 2017: 2 (Wuhan, Beijing)
Record against top 10 players in 2017: 3-6
2017 Grand Slam results: AO – 3R (i. Strycova)
RG – QF (i. Ka.Pliskova)
Wimby – 4R (i. Konta)
US Open – 3R (i. Kvitova)
WTA Finals win-loss record: First appearance
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