The WTA Q3 Report Card

Garbine Muguruza (zimbio.com)

With only a few weeks left in the WTA season, there’s very little time left to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore. Six players have already qualified, with Jelena Ostapenko and Johanna Konta likely to grab the last two spots. This week’s Premier Mandatory event in Beijing is the last big event for players to accumulate considerable points. With the top six players within about 1,000 points of each other, the race for year-end number one should be intense. Let’s take a look at how the top eight players performed in Q3, and their chances at the WTA Finals.

Garbine Muguruza – 5,680 points

The third quarter of 2017 was the best few months of Muguruza’s career. She won her second major at Wimbledon, and followed it up by winning the Premier 5 event in Cincinnati. Even though she was upset by Petra Kvitova in New York, she debuted as the new world number one after the US Open. Since becoming number one, she only managed two games in the Tokyo semifinals against Caroline Wozniacki, and was upset by Jelena Ostapenko in the Wuhan quarterfinals. It’s hard to know what to expect from Muguruza from week-to-week, but the pressure that comes with being number one will likely take her some time to adjust to. Much like Karolina Pliskova, Muguruza may be the latest newly-crowned number one to disappoint once reaching the top of the rankings.

Karolina Pliskova – 5,085 points
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Despite her second round exit at Wimbledon, Pliskova claimed the number one ranking following The Championships. As noted above her results since that time have been poor, and she didn’t advance to a final at any tournament in Q3. Will dropping the number one ranking take some pressure off Pliskova and help her to raise her level? If the last two weeks are any indication, the answer is no. She lost to Angelique Kerber in Tokyo and Ashleigh Barty in Wuhan. She also recently fired her coach, David Kotyza, citing a difference in opinions regarding how to get her game back on track. Pliskova appears a bit lost for the time being, and it’s easy to see her continuing to struggle for the remainder of 2017.

Simona Halep – 5,026 points

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Halep has suffered a series of heartbreaking losses this year, including several cases where she was just one match win away from becoming the new number one. She lost a tight match to Johanna Konta in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Though she advanced to the semifinals and final in Toronto and Cincinnati respectively, she won just a total of three games over four sets in her losses at those tournaments. She then of course drew wild card Maria Sharapova in the first round of the US Open, losing a highly competitive match to the five-time major champion. Last week in Wuhan, she won only three games in her opening round against Daria Kasatkina. It would be understandable if Halep is mentally and emotionally exhausted at this point, but can she bounce back one last time this year and make a run at number one? That would be a monumental effort.

Elina Svitolina – 4,815 points

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Svitolina leads the tour with five titles this year, including her superb run in Toronto where she beat four top 10 players to take the title. She’s yet to achieve the same success at the majors, as she was eliminated in the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the US Open. Trailing Muguruza by less than 1,000 points, it’s possible she could end the year as world number one without advancing past the quarterfinals at a major. This will be Elina’s first appearance at the WTA Finals. Will she find success there as she’s found outside the majors, or will the biggest non-Grand Slam tournament be too big a stage for her to excel?

Caroline Wozniacki – 4,620 points

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After losing in six tournament finals in 2017, Wozniacki finally took her first title of the year in Tokyo, which included a 6-2, 6-0 victory over new world number one Garbine Muguruza. This will be Wozniacki’s fifth WTA Finals appearance, where she has an overall record of 9-7. Her best result was reaching the final in 2010. If Caroline plays aggressively, and the top 3 continue to struggle with their form, she could be a significant factor in Singapore.

Venus Williams – 4,612 points

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Surprisingly, this will only be Venus’ fifth appearance at the year-end championships, and her first in nine years. She’s played well at the round robin tournament in the past, with a record of 11-5, and winning the 2009 title. She also won the WTA Elite Trophy in 2015, a similar tournament for players ranked just outside the top eight. Williams was the most consistent performer at the majors this year, with 20 overall wins. Venus should be considered one of the favorites in Singapore.

Jelena Ostapenko – 4,121 points

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The surprise French Open champion impressed by coming back just a few weeks later and making the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Her level dropped off a bit on the summer hard courts, but she’s had a great Asian swing thus far. Ostapenko won the title in Seoul, and upset world number one Muguruza on her way to the semifinals in Wuhan. Ostapenko should easily qualify for Singapore, and it will be interesting to see how the 20-year-old does at her first WTA Finals. She’s doesn’t shy away from tough competition, and currently has momentum on her side.

Johanna Konta – 3,655 points

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Konta thrilled the home crowd by reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon, but is just 3-5 in her last five tournaments, with four opening round losses. Konta has an almost 1,000 point lead in the race for the eighth and final spot in Singapore. She will likely limp her way into the tournament, but it’s hard to see her performing well in her WTA Finals debut considering her recent form.

Other Contenders:

There’s a considerable gap in points between Konta and the remaining contenders, and it’s hard to see anyone passing her by. Kristina Mladenovic (2,876 points) is currently on an eight match losing streak. Svetlana Kuznetsova (2,847 points) is only 3-4 since her quarterfinal at Wimbledon. CoCo Vandeweghe (2,754 points) made the quarterfinals or better at three of the four majors in a breakout year, but trails Konta by too many points with only a few weeks left before Singapore. US Open Champion Sloane Stephens (2,712 points) had the best run in Q3 of anyone, going 15-2 over a five-week period including winning her first major, but her lack of play during the rest of the year leaves her almost 1,000 points away from qualifying.

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