It’s time for the World Tour Finals in Singapore, and the top eight ranked WTA players - or the Elite 8, as they are known, will compete with one another for the prestigious Finals title. No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska is the title defender in Singapore, but a number of other players have also been in form – and so we are likely to see a strong playing field this time around.
The eight players have been divided into two groups of four each. The round robin format means that each player in a given group will play the other three once, with the top two players from each team qualifying for the semi-finals.
Read more: WTA Finals singles draws and how they work
Here are 5 matches that you should not miss
Madison Keys vs Dominika Cibulkova – Team Red
One has been described as the ‘Next Serena Williams’ – by Serena Williams herself. The other has been in roaring form lately, hitting the top 10 this year for a career-highest ranking of World No. 8.
Madison Keys, who is the only other American player in the top 10, has been something of a revelation in 2016. Although she has been better on pacier courts – especially hardcourt surfaces, Keys had a standout clay-court season, making her first ever clay final at the Internazional BNL D’Italia – where she eventually endured a straight sets loss to Serena Williams.
A title win at the Birmingham Classic – on grass – not only won Keys the second title of her career, but also propelled her to the Top 10 for the first time.
Keys also made a second WTA Premier 5 final this year – the highest on the WTA circuit – losing eventually to Romanian ace Simona Halep – who also beat her in the opening match at Singapore this year.
Cibulkova, who made her debut nearly a decade ago but saw a dip in form, has made a resurgence in 2016 – one strong enough to make a Top 10 return. After fair to strong performances to kick off her WTA season, Cibulkova won her debut WTA title of 2016 in Katowice, Poland, and soon made the finals of the Madrid Open where she tumbled to Simona Halep.
2016 also marked Cibulkova’s debut grass title at the Eastbourne International, where she beat Karolina Pliskova for the trophy – notable given Pliskova has been having a particularly strong season also.
Her repeated finals finishes this year, including one at Wuhan in the singles, saw Cibulkova hit No. 8.
This promises to be an interesting match despite Madison Keys leading the pair’s head-to-head record 3-0. Although the Slovak has never beaten her American rival in the past, Cibulkova’s form has been on a significant upswing – while Keys, for her strong season, has been quite patchy. That could even out the playing field between the two to give us an interesting match here.
Cibulkova nearly gave No. 1 Angelique Kerber a scare here, so she’s definitely up for the challenge.
Prediction: Cibulkova to win in three sets