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WTA Race to Shenzhen Update

Who has already qualified for the WTA Finals, and who is in position to claim the remaining spots?

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We’re just one month away from the debut of the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, where a substantially increased purse of $14M US dollars will be at stake.  This week’s Premier Mandatory event in Beijing is one of the WTA’s most prestigious non-Majors of the year, and the last opportunity for players to accumulate considerable rankings points ahead of the WTA Finals.  The winner gets 1,000 points, with the runner-up receiving 650 points, and semifinalists getting 390 points. The only other remaining Premier-level event is the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, where the winner garners 470 points.

 

Here’s a look at the current year-to-date standings heading into the China Open, starting with the players that have already officially qualified for the WTA Finals, along with the points they’ve accumulated this season (their 2019 titles are in parenthesis).

1) Ash Barty, 5,836 points (Roland Garros, Miami, Birmingham)

2) Karolina Pliskova, 5,315 points (Rome, Brisbane, Eastbourne, Zhengzhou)

3) Simona Halep, 4,907 points (Wimbledon)

It’s worth noting Halep was forced to withdraw from the Wuhan Open this past week due to a back injury, putting her WTA Finals participation in question for the second straight year.

The following players have not officially qualified, but almost certainly will.

4) Bianca Andreescu, 4,737 points (US Open, Indian Wells, Toronto)

5) Naomi Osaka, 4,256 points (Australian Open, Osaka)

6) Petra Kvitova, 4,196 points (Sydney, Stuttgart)

At No.7 in the race rankings is Serena Williams, but it would be quite surprising if she ends up playing the WTA Finals.  She is the only top 10 player not entered into the China Open this week, and hasn’t played the WTA Finals since 2014.  Assuming she does not play, that will open up a spot for the player in ninth place.

Now here are the remaining players with a strong chance of claiming the last few qualifying spots, along with a look at their current form and their chances of qualifying.

8) Elina Svitolina, 3,790 points – Svitolina was the champion of the WTA Finals a year ago, but is in danger of not even qualifying this year.  Though she reached the quarter-finals or better at three of the four Majors in 2019, including her first two Slam semifinals, she’s won no titles this year.   Elina has played every week since the US Open, but has gone just 4-3 during that time, and retired from one of those matches due to right knee pain. In this week’s China Open, she has a tricky opening round against Anastasija Sevastova, and is in a tough eighth of the draw that includes recent Guangzhou champion Sofia Kenin and Osaka finalist Anastasia Pavlyuychenkova.

9) Belinda Bencic, 3,595 points (Dubai) – Bencic has returned to the top 10 for the first time in over three years with 42 match wins this season.  She’s coming off her first Major semifinal in New York, but lost her only match since the US Open to Veronika Kudermetova this past week in Wuhan.  Belinda is vying to make her WTA finals debut. In Beijing, she already defeated Su-Wei Hsieh in the opening round, but shares a section of the draw with Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams.

10) Kiki Bertens, 3,490 points (Madrid, St. Petersburg) – Bertens will need to gain some points over the next few weeks to return to the WTA Finals for the second straight year, unless multiple people ranked above her withdraw from the event.  But Kiki is not currently playing with a lot of confidence. After a strong first half of the season, she’s just 5-6 since August. In Beijing, she already outlasted Donna Vekic in a third set tiebreak, and will play either Caroline Garcia or Dayana Yastremska in the next round.  Neither of those players are normally easy outs, so Bertens will need to up her level to get herself into qualifying position this week.

Beyond these top 10 players in the race, it will take a huge late-season surge, or some unexpected withdrawals, for any other women to qualify for Shenzhen.  Johanna Konta is currently in the 11th position, but is more than 600 points behind Bertens.  And the British No.1 isn’t even playing this week in Beijing due to knee pain.  With no other players anywhere near 3,000 points, it will likely be eight of the current top 10 players in the race playing at the WTA Finals.

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Bianca Andreescu delays season won’t travel to Australia

Bianca Andreescu will miss the start of the season in Australia after a tough 2021 season.

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Bianca Andreescu (@OduNews1 - Twitter)

The Canadian went on social media to break the news that she needs a little more time to rehab, prepare and focus on mental health.

 

Bianca Andreescu’s most recent tennis season wasn’t easy and amid a difficult year with highs and lows with twists and turns, she has decided to delay the beginning of her season.

The Toronto native took to Twitter to break the news to announce she was going through a difficult time including the fact she was worried about her grandmother who was in the ICU due to Covid.

Andreescu got off to a slow start last season losing in the second round of the Australian Open but bounced back in Miami in the first WTA 1000 tournament of the year making the final.

In that final, she faced the world number one Ash Barty but was actually forced to retire after a scary tumble for her first injury of the season. The clay-court season was even more hectic as she had tested positive for Covid herself and played one tune-up event prior to the French Open.

She won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out of precaution due to an ab tear and ended up being upset in the first round of Roland Garros to the Slovenian Tamara Zidansek.

She then turned to the grass-court season where she won one match in Eastbourne, one where she struggled to get past the American qualifier Christina Mchale but managed to pull it off in three sets.

She lost her next match to the Estonian Anett Kontaveitt in straight sets and went on to her next grass-court event in the German capital of Berlin. She was upset once again by Alize Cornet of France.

She faced Cornet once again in round one of Wimbledon but again failed to get the win. She then played her home event the National Bank Open in Montreal where she lost in the round of 16 to the Tunisian Ons Jabeur.

In Cincinnati, she suffered another first-round exit at the hands of the Czech Karolina Muchova but managed to have a great US Open run in New York where again she made the round of 16.

She eventually lost to Maria Sakkari of Greece in a tough three-set match and played two more events in Chicago and Indian Wells. In the windy city, she lost her opening match to Shelby Rodgers and made the second round in California losing once again to Kontaveitt.

After all her 2019 points dropped off she is now ranked 46 in the world.

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Davis Cup: Great Britain Handed Wildcard For 2022 Finals, Qualifiers Draw Announced

The Davis Cup Qualifiers draw was announced with Great Britain and Serbia handed a wildcard to next year’s finals.

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Great Britain and Serbia have been handed a wildcard for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals as the qualifiers draw was announced.

 

As this year’s Davis Cup comes to a conclusion, plans for next year’s competition have been put in place.

Although it is still unclear if the Finals will be held in Abu Dhabi next year, we do know which four countries have qualified for the year ending competition next month.

Russia and Croatia will contest the 2021 final, therefore earning themselves an automatic spot in next year’s finals.

However joining them will be two wildcards and they have been given to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia who reached the semi-finals this year as well as Great Britain.

To the surprise of many there was no wildcard for Spain, who are hosting the final this year, further indicating that next year’s competition is unlikely to take place in the country.

Spain join a whole host of other top nations such as Germany, France, USA, Canada and Australia in March’s qualifiers.

Spain will host Romania for a place in next year’s finals while France and USA have been given home ties against Ecuador and Colombia respectively.

Here is the full draw for the qualifiers which will take place on the 4th and 5th of March:

France v Ecuador

Spain v Romania

Finland v Belgium

USA v Colombia

Netherlands v Canada

Brazil v Germany

Slovakia v Italy

Australia v Hungary

Norway v Kazakhstan

Sweden v Japan

Argentina v Czech Republic

South Korea v Austria

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Iga Swiatek Working With Agnieszka Radwanska’s Former Coach After Recent Coaching Split

Iga Swiatek has made some coaching changes ahead of the 2022 season.

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(@Tennis - Twitter)

Iga Swiatek will start working with Agnieszka Radwanska’s former coach Tomasz Wiktorowski on a temporary basis after splitting up with her long term coach.

 

The Pole announced the news on Instagram yesterday that she and Piotr Sierzputowski had split up after five years working with each other.

Swiatek had achieved ultimate success with Piotr having won Wimbledon Juniors, reaching her first WTA final in Lugano and the most important achievement of winning her first grand slam title at Roland Garros.

However the 20 year-old now feels its time to move on ahead of the 2022 season, “I’ve started my pre-season, but today I would like to tell you something significant,” Swiatek wrote on Instagram.

“After more than 5 years I’ve decided to finish my cooperation with my coach Piotr Sierzputowski. This change is really challenging for me and this decision wasn’t easy, either… As tennis players we meet on our path a lot of people who contribute great value into our work and, often, into our life too, because we spend almost the whole year on tour together.

“I found out that sometimes in our professional life we need changes to develop more, evolve and meet other people with whom we’re going to create a cooperation for the next stages of our development. 

“I would like to thank you Coach for everything that you did for me. We gave each other so much and I hope that we’ll continue to grow and develop with this experience we’ve gained together. I owe you a lot and truly appreciate the time we’ve spent together. All those years enabled us to be in the place that we are now. 

“I suppose you may have questions about what’s next. I have everything I need to be able to work and I would like to focus on my pre-season without any outside pressure. I hope you’ll understand it.”

https://twitter.com/Sierzputowsky/status/1467456169161678851

Although the news comes as a surprise given that Swiatek was the only woman to reach the last 16 of every grand slam 2021, it is always better for players to change coaches at the end of the season rather than mid-season.

Swiatek’s long-term replacement is yet to be discovered however the Pole has appointed former coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, Tomasz Wiktorowski as an interim replacement according to TenisKlub.Pl.

Wiktorowski was there for most of Radwanska’s successes and knows the polish tennis system well so will have a good working replacement with Swiatek.

The former Roland Garros champion is now starting preparations for the new season as she looks to win a second grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The first grand slam of the season in Melbourne will start on the 17th of January.

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