WTA FINALS: IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO 11

World No 2 Simona Halep (above) and Sharapova are already through to Singapore. Photo World Sport Group.

THE BATTLE for spots in this month’s WTA Finals in Singapore is one of the tightest in recent years, with 11 players battling for the six places that’s up for grabs. An extra spot opened up after world No. 1 Serena Williams decided three days ago to close her 2015 season early, leaving Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova as the only two through to the finals so far.

After more than half the field was eliminated from the Race to Singapore at the just concluded Wuhan Open, the fight for the 11 still standing moves to Beijing for the China Open this week. It is a Premier Mandatory WTA tournament and points gained in the Chinese capital must be included in the final tally of each player’s best 16 competitions this year. The competition is a double-edged sword because if they end up with no points at the end of this week, it will reduce their points total drastically. (See Lowdown on the battle for points below)

WHAT’S BEIJING WORTH

Win: 1000, Final: 650, Semi-final: 390, Quarter-final: 215, Round 16: 120, Round 32: 65, Round 64: 35, Round 128: 10

If Wuhan finalist Garbine Muguruza keeps her form and reaches the last four, the Spaniard will pick up enough points to book her ticket to Singapore. Petra Kvitova will join her if she reaches the semi-finals as well. It is tougher for the rest. Lucie Safarova must at least reach the final, while everyone else has to win the China Open. But Vinci also needs to reach the last two at the minimum and then pull all the stops to reach and win the final in Austria on Oct 18.

But all eyes will be on Williams’ older sibling Venus, who made a quantum leap after winning the Wuhan Open. She jumped 14 spots and is now inside the qualifying zone. It comes after a rather quiet season for the 35-year-old, whose best was a quarter-final berth at last month’s US Open. If she takes the China Open, there will be a Williams in Singapore after all.

But after skipping Wuhan, US Open winner Flavia Pennetta is well rested and could put Venus’ ticket on hold until the Hong Kong Open next week. The stakes are high in Beijing and at least three Singapore places could be secured by Oct 11.

FORM GUIDE

The results of the 11 contenders since Wimbledon in July:
(W=Win, F=Final, S=Semis, Q=Quater-finals, R=Round)

Muguruza (8): F, Q, R64 (US), R64. R32, F (Wim)
Kvitova (4): R16, Q (US), W, R32, R32, R32 (Wim)
Safarova (5): R128 (US), F, Q, R32, R16 (Wim)
Kerber (13): S, Q, R32 (US), R64, R16, W, R32 (Wim)
Penetta (6): W (US), R32, R32, R32, R128 (Wim)
Williams (24): W, Q (US), R32, R64, R32, R16 (Wim)
Pliskova (12): Q, Q, R128 (US), Q, R16, R64, F, R64 (Wim)
Suarez Navarro (10): R16, R16, R32, R128 (US), R64, R64, R16, R128 (Wim)
Radwanska (7): R64, W, R32 (US), Q, R64, Q, Q, S (Wim)
Bencic (14): R32, F, R32 (US), R16, W, R16, R16 (Wim)
Vinci: S, F (US), S, R16, R64, Q, Q, R16, R128 (Wim)

(Click on players’s names for full results, US Open and Wimbledon in brackets)

RACE TO SINGAPORE LEADERBOARD

RANK PLAYER   Points To qualify + WUH BEI LIN HKG TIA KRE
PRE CUR       Pts Min Result 1000 280 280 280 470
1 Simona Halep (2) ROU 5780     R16        
2 Maria Sharapova (3) RUS 4321     R32
3 7 Garbine Muguruza (8) ESP 3511 274 Semi Final
4 -1 Petra Kvitova (4) CZE 3481 304 Semi R16
5 -1 Lucie Safarova (5) CZE 3221 564 Final
6 Angelique Kerber (13) GER 3115 670 Final Semis
7 -2 Flavia Pennetta (6) ITA 3033 752 Final
8 14 Venus Williams (24) USA 2972 813 Final Won
9 Karolina Pliskova (12) CZE 2910 875 Final Quarters
10 -3 Carla Suarez Navarro (10) ESP 2910 875 Final R16
11 -3 Agnieszka Radwanska (7) POL 2855 930 Final R64
12 -1 Belinda Bencic (14) SUI 2835 950 Final R32
13 3 Roberta Vinci (18) ITA 2535 1250 Semis
WTA 52-week Ranking in brackets
Players who have qualified are in red
✓  Scheduled tournaments 

+  Minimum points needed to secure berth to Singapore and at what stage of the China Open

REMAINING QUALIFYING TOURNAMENTS

Oct 12-18 Generali Ladies Linz (LIN)
Oct 12-18: Hong Kong Open (HKG)
Oct 12-18: Tianjin Open (TIA)
Oct 19-24: Kremlin Cup (KRE)

THE LOWDOWN ON THE BATTLE FOR POINTS

Source: WTA

The Top 8-ranked players on the Road To Singapore leaderboard will qualify for the WTA Finals. With Serena Williams withdrawing from the WTA Finals, Simona Halep assumes the top position followed by Maria Sharapova, representing the only two players who have secured a spot in Singapore. The remaining six spots are up for grabs.

The Road To Singapore leaderboard follows the same ranking guidelines as the WTA Rankings for singles, with one exception: Points earned from Luxembourg, an International event the week of October 19, will not factor in due to the fact that the Luxembourg final falls on a Sunday. The points will, however, affect each player’s ranking and qualification chances for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

Perhaps more important to consider: Beijing is a Premier Mandatory tournament which, among many other things, means that every direct entry into the main draw must count their points earned at the China Open as one of his/her 16 best results for ranking purposes. For example, if Angelique Kerber loses in the first round of Beijing, she will actually drop 95 points (105 replaced by 10).

The following players have points counting that will be replaced by their upcoming Beijing points:

Angelique Kerber: 105 points
Karolina Pliskova: 100 points
Carla Suárez Navarro: 100 points
Agnieszka Radwanska: 100 points
Simona Halep: 60 points
Caroline Wozniacki: 100 points
Sara Errani: 100 points
Madison Keys: 55 points
Elina Svitolina: 55 points
Belinda Bencic: 30 points
Roberta Vinci: 30 points

NOTE: Petra Kvitova, Garbiñe Muguruza, Flavia Pennetta, Lucie Safarova and Maria Sharapova are each replacing one point earned at various tournaments for an opening round loss.

In such a tight race, every little point matters and to help put that in perspective, here is a look at a the current leaderboard compared to a leaderboard factoring Beijing points:

Below are adjusted RTS standings that account for the removal of the additional event currently counting. Any points gained in Beijing can simply be added to the “Adjusted” amount below:

RTS PLAYER CURRENT TOTAL POINTS REPLACED ADJUSTED RTS TOTAL
1 Simona Halep 5840 60 5780
2 Maria Sharapova 4322 1 4321
3 Garbine Muguruza 3512 1 3511
4 Petra Kvitova 3482 1 3481
5 Lucie Safarova 3222 1 3221
6 Angelique Kerber 3220 105 3115
7 Flavia Pennetta 3034 1 3033
8 Venus Williams 2972 0 2972
9 Karolina Pliskova 3040 100 2940
10 Carla Suarez Navarro 3010 100 2910
11 Agnieszka Radwanska 2955 100 2855
12 Belinda Bencic 2865 30 2835
13 Roberta Vinci 2565 30 2535