Apologies for not being able to cover the last two days of the WTA Finals in Singapore as I was busy over the weekend. For the second straight year, a player lost their first two matches of the tournament but went onto win the whole caboodle… step forward, Dominika Cibulkova who produced a tremendous display to beat the world number one, Angelique Kerber in the final, 6-3 6-4.
Here are highlights from the Cibulkova-Kerber final, which has propelled Domi to her highest ever ranking of number five in the world!
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina capped off a superb year by ending Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands’s 18-match unbeaten run with a straight sets win in the final. The doubles tournament in Singapore was superb.
There were some super matches in Singapore and I think it was a decent tournament. Here are some of the best shots from the week.
The FINAL week of the WTA season is now upon us with the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai… I have the same feelings as last year that this tournament should come before Singapore. The draw was announced on Monday with play set to get underway on Tuesday.
The Azalea group features Johanna Konta, Sam Stosur and Caroline Garcia. Two of the matches will be first-time match-ups as Stosur has never played Konta or Garcia before. Stosur arrives in Zhuhai on a four match losing streak. I’d fancy Konta to win this group.
The Camellia group has Carla Suárez Navarro, Timea Bacsinszky and wildcard, Zhang Shuai. Timea (and Petra!) are keeping my interest in this tournament but I think this is a tough group for the Swiss player. This is the only group where I see a potential upset… Zhang could be dangerous here.
The highest quality group in my opinion is the Peony group with Petra Kvitova, Roberta Vinci and Barbora Strycova. Vinci has caused Kvitova many problems with the pair tied at 3-3 in their head-to-head. Strycova will also be a handful and I think Strycova-Vinci should be a fun one. I could see any of three advancing but I do think the surface (based on last year) will suit Petra.
The Rose group contains Elina Svitolina, Elena Vesnina and Kiki Bertens… I think this is a good draw for Svitolina. Vesnina’s on a four match losing streak, while Bertens, despite a decent run in Luxembourg, will have to play a fine match to upset the super steady, Svitolina.
So who is your winner? Kvitova or Konta for me.
And here’s the order of play for day 1 in Zhuhai on Tuesday.
You may remember I included details of the announcement of “WTA Networks” last week following a press conference in Singapore.
Note from the tweet above how “Live Streaming” is the first thing mentioned in what WTA Networks will provide to fans… well, it turns out some crucial information was rather conveniently omitted from the press conference and the posts above.
The latest edition of the No Challenges Remaining Podcast had an interview with the WTA CEO, Steve Simon, who confirmed that the live streaming component for WTA Networks is unlikely to be available until the second quarter (!) of 2017. Listen below from 9:10 in the podcast to hear more about this.
I thought the whole point of WTA Networks was to provide streaming so this is one sizeable bombshell. I’m not quite sure if the WTA expect fans to fork out money for WTA Networks without any streaming function. They seem to be going big on airing press conferences but that seems rather obsolete to me if nothing is sorted yet with streaming, which should be number one on the list of priorities.
This is a big deal for me since I watch all WTA tournaments on TennisTV, which it was recently announced would be dropping their coverage of the WTA. It’s become increasingly clear that this was a money-driven decision by the WTA – to have nothing in place though for the start of the 2017 season I find to be baffling and a disservice to the fans. Big tournaments such as Brisbane, Auckland, Sydney, Doha, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami will all be missed, the latter two being Premier Mandatory tournaments which are frequently marketed as the fifth slams.
In the UK, BT Sport will be picking up extra coverage of matches but i’d guess they will mostly be showing matches on the top courts or involving Brits. The key concern for me is how will we watch matches on the outside courts using decent quality streams? The WTA are supposed to be streaming every main draw match in 2017 but i’m confused as to how we will be able to watch them without seeking illegal streams or ones where you need a magnifying glass to actually see the ball. I think the WTA have made an absolute mess of this and what was apparent from the NCR podcast was how Steve Simon has completely underestimated the importance of this streaming service.
I’m very concerned about how I am going to watch WTA tennis come January and furthermore, maintain this blog. As a start, i’ll be looking into prices for BT Sport but I am very disappointed with this recent news.
Rant over… let’s end on something more a little light-hearted. Dasha squared are on holiday in the Maldives and have been posting some odd (but amusing!) videos on their Instagram accounts.