The 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore will continue on Monday with round robin action from the red group featuring Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki and Caroline Garcia. The two winners of these match-ups will play each other on Wednesday. For a preview of day 1 action from the white group, click HERE. Let’s take a look at the matches on day 2…
1. Simona Halep vs. Caroline Garcia (Monday, 7:30pm local time)
Simona Halep’s first match knowing she would be the new world number one was against Caroline Garcia in the final of Beijing. Her first match officially as world number one will be against… Caroline Garcia!
Garcia was the last qualifier for Singapore, but arrives in the best form of anyone. The Frenchwoman is currently riding an eleven match winning streak that saw her win the biggest titles of her career in Wuhan and Beijing, and edge Johanna Konta out of the Singapore top eight for the second year in a row. Garcia pulled out of Tianjin due to the leg injury she had strapped up in Beijing, but immediately qualified after Konta pulled out of Moscow with a foot injury.
Halep ascended to world number one in Bejiing where she enjoyed one of her best tournaments of the year. The serve, frequently one of her weaknesses, was a strength for the entire week. Even in the final against Garcia which she lost, the Romanian player served very well in the second set and was not broken. Halep seems to be in good spirits heading into the final week of the year.
Head-to-head record: Halep leads Garcia, 2-1 in their head-to-head. As alluded to above, Garcia won their most recent match in the final of Beijing just two weeks ago, 6-4 7-6(3).
Final thoughts: A few interesting dynamics for these two – i’m fascinated to see how Halep carries herself as the world number one in this tournament and whether the two week break will halt Garcia’s momentum. It’s going to be a tough ask for Garcia playing against the three counter-punchers in the red group on what has always been a very slow court in the past. Despite the recent result from Beijing, i’d favour Halep in the situation and having experience of playing the courts in Singapore.
2. Elina Svitolina vs. Caroline Wozniacki (Monday, 2nd match after 7:30pm local time)
Making her debut at the WTA Finals in Singapore, Elina Svitolina opens against Caroline Wozniacki in a match-up that she has dominated in 2017.
Svitolina’s schedule has been pretty light since the US Open with a quarter-final showing in Beijing and a second round withdrawal in Hong Kong. Svitolina had a match point against eventual champion, Caroline Garcia in Beijing. The Ukrainian player will have had almost two weeks off after pulling out of Hong Kong, supposedly precautionary, with a leg injury.
Wozniacki also heads into Hong Kong with injury concerns after picking up an elbow injury before her second round match. It was clearly a blow to Wozniacki who was almost in tears when addressing the crowd. Wozniacki had played a stunning match against Eugenie Bouchard in the first round, which has characterised her time in Asia where her game, particularly the forehand, has looked superb.
Head-to-head record: Svitolina has won all three previous encounters against Wozniacki – their 2017 clashes have both been decided in straights with Svitolina winning finals in Dubai (6-4 6-2) and Toronto (6-4 6-0).
Interesting stat: As picked up in my profiles preview, Svitolina has the best record against top ten players in 2017 with a 10-3 record.
Final thoughts: Of the injury concerns, i’m most worried for Wozniacki as the elbow injury could have an impact on her serve, which has been a weapon post-US Open. Since Roland Garros, there has definitely been a sense that Svitolina has changed up her schedule and focused on the big events, which could have a positive impact here after a long and gruelling season.
In previous matches, Svitolina has just been too solid and resilient for Wozniacki, and more convincing when on the attack. The Dane has been playing her best tennis of late with confidence high so i’m intrigued to see if anything will change. Still, it’s hard to look past Svitolina based on their two previous encounters this year, both on hard court. I wouldn’t rule out a Tuesday morning finish for this one!
Red Group Poll – who will qualify?