Serena Williams favourite to claim fifth WTA Finals trophy
Serena Williams leads the betting with Coral (11/8) to win her fifth, and third straight, WTA Finals tournament, at the expense of a star-studded line-up, featuring the world’s top eight women tennis players.
This year, the prestigious competition will be held in Singapore for the first time, and on hard courts at the nation’s 10k-capacity Indoor Stadium.
World number one Williams has been drawn in the Red round-robin Group, along with Romania’s Simona Halep, Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.
While in the White Group, Russian Maria Sharapova, Czech Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki face off for a place in the semi-finals, with the top two from each pool qualifying.
The Red Group is arguably the more straight forward, especially for American 18-time Grand Slam champion Williams, given that she holds a combined career 11-1 victory advantage over her opposing trio (49-4 against all the tournament’s participants).
On top of that, Romanian superstar Halep (12/1 to win the Finals) has struggled to really impress since the summer, when she finished runner-up at the French Open and got to the semis at Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old has had a terrific season on the whole, though, and said: “It’s not an easy draw. But everyone here is strong and a great player. I’ll enjoy my matches and try my best to win.”
Bouchard (14/1) and Williams’ fist opponent Ivanovic (9/1), meanwhile, have been suffering from injuries recently, having to pull out of tournaments running up to the WTA Finals.
Williams, who was also a doubt for this competition after withdrawing from the China Open, has spoken ahead of her opening match. “I don’t care who I play, to be perfectly honest with you,” she said.
“You can put me against anybody at this point, I’m ready. I really can’t wait for my match. I wish I had a match tomorrow.”
The White Group, meanwhile, has two former champions of this tournament and a runner-up. World number two Sharapova is the one to beat from this section, boasting a 21-7 win record over her three opponents.
“I’m quite happy with my group,” the Russian said. “I think every match will be a challenge. There are some players that I’ve lost to this year, and some players that I beat, so it’s a little bit of everything. I hope to start on a good note.”
Sharapova, who won this trophy in 2004 defeating Williams in the final in three sets, is second-favourite at 7/2 to take her second title and carry on her impressive form that saw her claim the most recent China Open.
Kvitova, WTA Finals champion in 2011, lost to Sharapova in that Beijing competition, but the 2014 Wimbledon winner is third-favourite at 5/1 to get her second crown.
A resurgent Wozniacki could provide a more difficult challenge to Sharapova, though, as the Dane recently knocked out the Russian in the fourth round of the US Open on her way to the final, where she lost out to Williams. This duo go up against each other first in their group, with Wozniacki a 10/1 shout to go one better than her runner-up exploits against Kim Clijsters in 2010.
Tournament outsider Radwanska (20/1) is likely to come last in this group, having failed to progress past the fourth round at the last three Grand Slams. The Pole has won only seven of her 28 matches against all three White Group opposition.