Dominika Cibulkova won her third WTA title of 2016 in Linz and with that, is the seventh player to officially qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore. Cibulkova had to work exceptionally hard to fend off a spirited challenge from Victorija Golubic in the final, saving four set points in the second set to seal a straight sets victory, 6-3 7-5. Despite a wobble post-Wimbledon, Cibulkova has got her game together in the fall with a final in Wuhan as well as the title in Linz to secure her well deserved place in Singapore.
*Update – The WTA finally announced officially that Madison Keys has qualified for Singapore.*
Caroline Wozniacki fended off a brave effort from Kristina Mladenovic to win her 25th title in Hong Kong, 6-1 6-7(4) 6-2. Wozniacki had looked in cruise control, taking the first set with some glorious backhand winners. An aggressive Mladenovic, who had a medical time-out at the end of the first set for a leg injury, powered through the pain in the second set with some superbly executed drop shots that flummoxed Wozniacki. The Dane lost her focus and played a particularly ropey tiebreak with two bad misses at the end as Mladenovic forced a decider.
Mladenovic had break points in Wozniacki’s first service game of the third set but after missing them, lost her patience as the leg/hip injury became more troublesome. There were some lengthy deuce games but Wozniacki was the more stable player and despite some woes trying to close out the match, she finally saw off a valiant effort from a tearful Mladenovic. As soon as Wozniacki won, “Sweet Caroline” was blaring out in the stadium!
It’s been a wonderful turnaround for Wozniacki who will rise back into the world’s top 20 next week and also qualify for the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai. The Dane has had a battering schedule since the US Open and is set to play Luxembourg next week where she is drawn to play Madison Brengle in the first round.
Peng Shuai won the WTA tournament in Tianjin with a 7-6(3) 6-2 win over Alison Riske in the final for her first ever WTA title… and in SEVEN tries! It’s a wonderful story as Peng was sidelined for nine months because of back surgery. It’s been a tough road back and Peng had won just three WTA main tour matches in 2016 prior to Tianjin, one of those against Venus Williams last week in Beijing. It was a very favourable draw for Peng with two walkovers and playing an opponent in the final who had already played a three setter on Sunday, but if anyone deserves a bit of luck then it’s Peng 🙂
Anddd Peng paired up with Christina McHale to also win the doubles title in Tianjin… what a week!
It looks like Muguruza should be OK for Singapore following the ankle injury that forced her to retire from her quarter-final match in Linz against Viktorija Golubic.
Next week is the final round of regulation WTA tournaments in Moscow and Luxembourg. Moscow has a decent draw, which has now lost Dominika Cibulkova as the number two seed. A draw reshuffle has taken place and first round matches include…
Daria Kasatkina v Belinda Bencic
Lucie Safarova v Daria Gavrilova
Jelena Jankovic v Jelena Ostapenko
Luxembourg has Petra Kvitova as the top seed who still has Zhuhai and the Fed Cup final on her schedule. Caroline Wozniacki is the number two seed but it’s hard to imagine she can back up her exploits in Hong Kong. My predicted draws will go up later in the usual place and I will endeavour to cover both tournaments over the next week up to Singapore which starts next Sunday!
The wacky year that has been 2016 is finally wrapping up and a number of players are already beginning their off-seasons!