The WTA Finals 2021 will close out the women's tennis season at the end of the year and so far, four of the eight spots in the tournament have been filled.
With the four Grand Slams now over, the focus in tennis turns to the year-ending tournament. For the women, this will be the WTA Finals 2021, which will see eight players duke it out to win the prestigious tournament. As things stand, the Finals will be without Serena Williams. She is currently not ranked in the top 20, meaning she is unlikely to feature even in the WTA Elite Trophy. Of course, this works out well for the other contenders. With arguably the biggest force in the game absent, others get a better run at the trophy. What’s more, the unpredictable nature of results on the WTA tour will make for a few shocks in these tournaments too.
But who all have qualified for the tournament so far and how will it work? Here’s a lowdown of how things will work in the tournament.
The tournament will see eight players take part, with alternates named from outside of the top 8. However, one area where the WTA Finals differs from the ATP Finals is in the qualifying.
The men’s qualifying format sees the top 7, two Grand Slam winners and the eighth-ranked player given preference – in that order.
For the women, the top 8 ranked players will be guaranteed qualification. The same criteria is also applied to the top 8 women’s doubles teams.
There is, however, another interesting caveat. The singles winner of the Race to the WTA Finals – the player who finishes in pole position leading into the WTA Finals – will get the keys to a new Porsche as well.
So far, four players have qualfied for the single’s tournament and two teams have qualified for the doubles event. Here, we shall look at both the players as well as the teams to have made it.
The 2021 Wimbledon champion currently tops the women’s rankings and is as such guaranteed a spot in the WTA Finals. She might have done poorly in the US Open (third round) and French Open (second round) but her strong performances elsewhere helped.
Aside from winning Wimbledon, she also made it to the quarters of her home Slam, the Australian Open. Wins in the Miami Masters as well as the Cincinnati Masters and the Yarra Valley Classic boosted her points total. As the defending champion from 2019 – the 2020 edition was cancelled due to COVID-19 – she will be the favourite going into the tournament.
Sabalenka is the only woman on this list to have qualified thus far who didn’t win a Grand Slam. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old from Belarus was one of the more consistent performers on the tour this year. She made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open and the third round of the French Open. After that, she was a semi-finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open.
Besides that, she won the Madrid Masters tournament as well as the Abu Dhabi Open to cement her spot in second in the rankings. Sabalenka might not have won a Slam yet, but she has age and potential on her side. A win in the WTA Finals cannot be ruled out, even if it is her first as a singles competitor – she played in the doubles edition in 2019 alongside Elise Mertens.
The fairytale run of 2021 belonged to Krejcikova, who stunned everyone by winning at Roland Garros this year. That she was unranked in the Australian Open and French Open made the feat all the more amazing. What’s more, she only made it to the second round in the Australian Open. Thus, literally no one saw her becoming a Slam winner. Yet that’s exactly what she did.
She followed this up with strong showings in Wimbledon and the US Open, where she made the round of 16 and quarterfinals, respectively. She also won WTA events at Prague and Strasbourg to further underline her own credentials. This will be Krejcikova’s singles debut at the Finals, although she played in 2018 and 2019 in the doubles event.
Pliskova is a former world number one and her recent resurgence in form has been wonderful to see. She ended the year strongly, making it to the Wimbledon final and the US Open quarterfinals. Pliskova also made it to the final of other WTA events, adding valuable ranking points in the process.
She has played in the WTA Finals before, making the tournament four straight times from 2016-19 and, having never made it to the final before, will be keen to do so this time around.
So far only two teams are guaranteed a spot in the women’s doubles event. The top-ranked team of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova will be at the tournament, having had a pretty strong year.
The Japanese duo of Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara are also through. Incredibly, they won six tournaments through the course of the year. Krejcikova and Siniakova are ahead of them due to their Grand Slam success at Roland Garros, as well as making better progress through the Slams.