Who will win the 2018 WTA Finals? Naomi Osaka? Caroline Wozniacki? Angelique Kerber?
Naomi Osaka is the form player, Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova have won it before, Kiki Bertens is the rank outsider while you can never write off Angelique Kerber.
The 2018 WTA Finals kicks off in Singapore on October 22 and there will no Simona Halep as the world No 1 was forced to withdraw due to a back injury. Of course Serena Williams will once again not feature as she failed to qualify.
However, the field includes five Grand Slam winners as Wozniacki, Osaka, Kerber, Kvitova and Sloane Stephens all made the cut.
Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)
Angelique Kerber (Germany)
Naomi Osaka (Japan)
Sloane Stephens (United States)
Kiki Bertens (Netherlands)
Having won the most recent Grand Slam, the US Open, Osaka is in the best overall shape. And it’s not just her performance at Flushing Meadows that puts her top of the list as she reached the final of the Pan Pacific Open and semi-final in China on the back of her display in New York.
Australian Open champion Wozniacki, meanwhile, won the China Open, but her form has been patchy in recent months.
Karolina Pliskova beat Osaka in the Pan Pacific Open final and also reached the final in Tianjin, but then suffered a first-round exit at the Kremlin Cup, which is perhaps a good thing as it gave her some time to recover.
Kerber’s last solid run was back in July when she won Wimbledon and Petra Kvitova has suffered a few early exits during the Asian swing.
Bertens won the Korea Open, but hasn’t really performed as well as she would have liked to since then while Stephens and Elina Svitolina have also not hit peak form in recent weeks.
What they’ve said
Angelique Kerber: “Last year it was like more to dealing with everything, taking all the experience with me to learning about myself, my game, the motivation. Without 2017 and without 2016, I wouldn’t be here the same person and the same player like I am right now.
“It helped me to grow the last 12, 24 months to staying now here, playing again in the WTA Finals.”
Sloane Stephens: “It’s a tournament of eight players, so this is the only time of the year that this happens for us. At a Grand Slam, there is a lot of faces you don’t know, a lot of qualifiers, people you have never even seen before.
“Here is obviously special, seven other girls that you know pretty well that you see frequently throughout the year. It’s just fun to be here with them and kind of bond a little bit better.”
Caroline Wozniacki: “I’m just excited to start the competition and do my best. As defending champion I want to defend my title and end the season on a high.”
Naomi Osaka: “I hope I don’t get overwhelmed. You never really know how you’re gonna feel until you’re in that moment. So I can only hope that I’ll play well and I won’t get, like, nervous or anything, which I’m sure I will, but I feel like that’s all part of the process.”
Osaka is a 10/3 favourite with bet365 to win the tournament and next best is the experienced Kvitova at 6/1 while Bertens comes in at 10/1.
As for group betting, despite being paired with Kerber (11/2), Stephens (17/2) and Bertens, Osaka is also out in front (5/4) to win the Red Group.
As for the White Group, Wozniacki is 7/4 to finish top and Kvitova 9/4.
The bookies have rightly made Osaka favourite to win the WTA Finals despite it being her debut at the season-ending event. The Japanese player was the first to admit that she needs to keep her nerves in check if she is to do well, but then again she didn’t have any problem when she faced her hero Serena Williams in the US Open final.
Wozniacki and Kvitova, on the other hand, have been there and done that and won the WTA Finals before and they know what to expect.
Kerber, though, is perhaps the one player who can put together a consistent run of form and that’s exactly what she will need if she is to get out of a tough Red Group.
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