Monday’s Set Points: Singapore, Zhuhai and WTA streaming for 2017

Set PointsApologies 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.


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27 thoughts on “Monday’s Set Points: Singapore, Zhuhai and WTA streaming for 2017

  1. Fantastic match by Domi to win the WTA championship, it was the best I’ve ever seen her play. One stat is well worth beating in mind; 83% (or about five out of six) of her serves were good, but it was also almost uncanny how accurate her shots were and how she kept on finding the corners even when hitting at pace. I’ve been trying to find the final game in its entirety online, it is well worth seeing.

    Good win by Elena and Kate in the doubles too; I know Beth and Lucie have a lot of fans who will be disappointed by the outcome, but those two deserved it.

    I’ve not subscribed to Tennis TV but have been paying for and watching matches individually as and when I really want to see one – for me it still works out cheaper than taking out a subscription – but all the same this is frankly a dog’s breakfast and does a severe disservice to tennis fans. I hope they and the WTA get their heads together and sort something out before 2017 comes around.

    If they don’t, then hurray for enlightened tournaments such as Hobart which not only show but archive their matches online so you can go back and watch them if you miss one.

    As for Zhuhai; I think Petra wioll win if she plays her best tennis, otherwise it could be either Jo Konta or Elina Svitolina.


    • A great week for Domi, she’s going to be up their next year and I think she’ll be one to watch for the Aus Open!

      I obviously wanted Lucie and Beth to win but agree, Ekaterina and Elena totally deserved the win.

      That’s a good point about Hobart, they do a great job at streaming matches.

      And for Zhuhai, those are the top three for me also.


  2. Haven’t they confirmed that next year Zuhai will be between Moscow and Singapore? No idea why this is only just happening really.

    Cibulkova winning makes me really sad for Kuznetsova…


  3. Yes I agree with you James that the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai should come before Singapore and I cannot see the logic in their schedule. The WTA seem to have made a right mess with this streaming service and have not planned it very well. They are not a particularly professional organisation.
    I rely on BT Sport to watch WTA tennis anyway so there will be little difference for me and yes, they do mostly show matches on the top courts or involving Brits and get lots of angry tweets if they do not give preference to matches involving the Brits which is a pity for me as none of my fav players are Brits. However I am going with Brit Jo Konta to win in Zhuhai as she’s improved all season and will be keen to end it with another win.


    • I will definitely look to get BT Sport but yeah, that does concern me! I always watch on catch-up on TennisTV as most things happen when i’m at work so it’s going to make it more difficult to watch tennis.


  4. Yes I agree James, that’s a pain. I’m not a fan of BT myself because they kept cold-calling me when I was with them (I’m with TalkTalk now) and telling me to upgrade my ‘phone and internet package and it got to be a nuisance, so I want to avoid them if at all possible. I hope the WTA sorts something else out (though it’s seems unlikely right now).

    Back to happier matters. Domi’s in a strong position going into 2017; because of her rotten start to this year’s season she’s got very few points to defend until the European clay court swing next year. Aga on the other hand has a lot of points to defend from her strong start to the season, so it’ll be interesting to see if she can repeat her performance next year.


    • Poor start? She made the SF of Hobart right off the beat, then made finals in Katowice and Acapulco, plus QF in St Petersburg. Obviously she has chances to make those up with the bigger events (Australian Open, Indian Wells & Miami), but I actually think she’ll really struggle next year trying to keep the momentum going, as with Kerber. By the time grass season starts, she has so much to defend and her style of play doesn’t perform well with that kind of pressure.


      • Yes I don’t think it was a poor start to 2016, more that she struggled to make at an impact at the big events and her ranking didn’t help for IW and Miami. I think i’m feeling more positive about Cibulkova’s chances in 2017 than you, Andrew. Not sure about Kerber…


      • We shall see. I could totally picture Cibulkova going completely off the boil and struggling to piece together wins. She just feels like a bubble about to burst.
        And Kerber is going to have to try and live with being THE favourite next year. She’s done magnificently well with overtaking Serena, but that’s it now. There’s no further to push, it’s all about maintaining. Every match will be like Puig in Rio and Pliskova in Cincy, playing someone with nothing to lose and everything to gain.


      • Andrew, perhaps I should have made myself clearer. There’s no implication on my part that Domi played badly at the beginning of the year (in fact she had match point against Aga at Indian Wells), just that because her ranking was lower than previously she got drawn against much better players earlier on, especially in the bigger tournaments.

        By “rotten start” I just mean that she had rotten luck with her draws. She had to play Kiki Mladenovic in the first round of the Australian Open, a player who’d taken her to three sets in the previous year, and this time she lost. (She’d also drawn Ana Ivanovic in the US Open the year before, although she managed to turn that match her way.)

        Point taken about Hobart (where she did well to beat Jo Konta in the first round), St Petersburg (where she beat an unjured and somewhat below par Woz) and Acapulco too.


  5. Credit to Domi – she was playing a superb match. I think if Kerber’s not at her best (mentally and/or physically) it will always be tough for her to beat players with great intensity, see Cibulkova or Puig.
    I felt like Kerber was ok with the loss. I mean I was probably more disappointed than she was 😀

    I can’t follow your blog the next 6 or 7 weeks as I’m very busy jobwise. Luckily, the season is almost finished 😉 Very much looking forward to all your interesting countdowns, Top 10 predictions etc. (btw. looking in the predictions archive I failed hard when trying to predict the year end top 10 for 2016 😀 although some of my random predictions such as Kerber will reach a first GS final and Pliskova will break through at a slam were quite good :P)

    Keep up your good work, James!


    • I’m so relieved the season is coming to an end haha! I’ve got lots of off-season posts planned though so hopefully will have plenty for you to read when you next get the chance.

      I was looking at my predictions for last year and laughing… I think I was a bit unlucky with Sharapova, Bencic and Safarova in my top ten. I had Muguruza to win the French Open but other than that, didn’t get much else right!

      Thanks for your continued support 🙂


  6. hi James- often reading but normally too busy to comment, thought i’d offer a quick tip that might help soften the blow from the WTA streaming bombshell.

    If you set up an account with bet365 you can stream most tennis matches from both the ATP and WTA. You only need £1 in your account to be able to use the streaming feature and don’t actually need to place a bet. It’s not great on a computer as you can’t make it fullscreen, but on the bet365 app on a smartphone you can, and the feed quality is always excellent. I watch a lot of my tennis this way.




    • Thanks for the tip. I have a Bet365 account just for streaming matches but i’ve always found the size of the screen too small to really enjoy the tennis! Thanks for the suggestion of using the app on a smartphone, i’ll give that a go next year as i’ve just used my laptop before.


      • Re the “WTA streaming bombshell,” I wonder if an online petition (similar to the ones you see on by and on behalf of all the people who watch tennis matches online, would do any good?


  7. Really rooting for Svitolina to win Zhuhai, but Johanna Konta was in devastating form today against Caroline Garcia, though I feel like Garcia has taken a step backwards and is overplaying again on the return. I kept screaming at my laptop for her to take a step back when returning first serves because it was ridiculous where she was trying to hit from.


  8. James or anyone else who cares to comment; any thoughts about tomorrow’s final? There’s a good article about it here on the WTA’s website;–who-will-win-the-wta-elite-trophy

    My guess is that if Petra’s on form she’ll be too strong for Elina (as she is for practically everyone else) and should win it, but Elina’s been looking pretty solid once she gets past two sets and she could easily beat a so-so Petra performance, so tomorrow will be on Petra’s racket.


    • I think Kvitova will win, she has been superb this week and the court is perfect for her. I was though really impressed by Svitolina’s performance today against Konta and have been encouraged by her recent displays. She’s taking more risks and being more aggressive in the crucial moments of matches.


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