Women’s Look Forward: Singapore

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Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

WTA Tennis News

This is where everyone wants to be.

Well, everyone except Serena Williams, anyway. If you make it to Singapore, you have arrived. Flavia Pennetta put off her retirement to play. Maria Sharapova probably isn’t in playing shape, but she turned up. Simona Halep has been hurting, but she is here.

Serena’s withdrawal left us with a relatively inexperienced field. Sharapova has been here many, many times, and won the event in 2004, but the only other past champion is 2011 winner Petra Kvitova. Agnieszka Radwanska has been here six of the last seven years (she missed 2010), but two of those were as an alternate; she has an unimpressive 6-10 record. Kvitova is making her fourth appearance. Angelique Kerber has put in two appearances (although she went a combined 1-5 in those appearances). But Halep has been here only once (although she made it to the final in that appearance last year), and Muguruza, Pennetta, and Safarova are all making their first appearances. If alternate Timea Bacsinszky gets in, it will be her first appearance also.

What experience there is is hardly evenly distributed. The Red Group consists of Halep, Sharapova, Radwanska, and Pennetta, who have a combined fourteen appearances; the White Group includes Muguruza, Kvitova, Kerber, and Safarova, with a combined six appearances.

All in all, a very difficult field to predict.

We note that, this year, we have two players who are playing both singles and doubles, and both — Muguruza and Safarova — are in the White Group in both singles and doubles. (Note that the doubles has shifted to a round robin format this year.) Safarova and her partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands are the #2 seed in the doubles White Group, which we would call the softer group on the whole; the others in it are Chan/Chan, Garcia/Srebotnik, and Muguruza/Suarez Navarro. The Red Group consists of Hingis/Mirza, Babos/Mladenovic, Kops-Jones/Spears, and Hlavackova/Hradecka. Interestingly, Hingis/Mirza are the only two past champions here, although not with each other; Mirza won it last year with Cara Black and Hingis in 1999 and 2000 with Anna Kournikova.

The Rankings

Because Singapore 2014 is already off, the players are mostly just adding points; there is nothing to drop. So it is unlikely that any of the players here will fall much. (They will obviously all stay Top Ten!) They might rise.

Not to #1, to be sure. Serena Williams is safe on top even though she isn’t playing. The first contest if for #2 — and even that isn’t much of a contest. #2 Halep has a lead of 1100 points on #3 Muguruza, and more than 1400 on #4 Sharapova. So Halep needs only two round robin wins to clinch #2, and Muguruza’s only chance is to win without losing more than one round robin match, and Sharapova’s only hope is to win five matches and hope Halep wins none. Sharapova has a better shot at #3; two round robin wins might take her past Muguruza, or she needs to win roughly one more round in the semifinal/final stage.

Between #4 Sharapova and #5 Kvitova is a gap of more than 800 points, which is again tough to bridge. Kvitova would need at least a final, and probably a title, to go higher, and almost certainly won’t go above #4 no matter what. But from #5 Kvitova to #8 Kerber is less than a hundred points, and #9 Safarova is less than 200 points behind that. That’s an effective tie; any of those five could easily end up #5; it’s just a question of who lasts longest.

It’s interesting to observe that, although we think of Serena has having had an incredible year, Hingis and Mirza have more points than Serena even though doubles counts fewer events. They each have nine titles this year, and will be going for ten — meaning that ten of the eleven events that count toward their rankings could be titles. Indeed, it could happen sometime next year that all of their countable events would be titles! They have long since clinched the year-end #1. With doubles #5 Dellacqua, #6 Shvedova, and #7 Vesnina not playing, Mattek-Sands has clinched the #3 ranking, with Safarova in line to be #4. Below that, most rankings are still in play.

Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.