Starting Tuesday and until October 27, the city of Zhuhai, China will be hosting the WTA Elite Trophy event. In the race for the crown are twelve members of the Top 20 who didn’t qualify for this year’s WTA Finals.
Despite withdrawals by headliners including Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber, the tournament promises to be an exciting one, with up-and-comers and more seasoned players all in action.
In the first phase, four round robin groups of three players will go head-to-head. The winners of each group will then grapple in the semifinals ahead of the ultimate battle for the title.
Donna Vekic (8) and Dayana Yastremska (10) join tournament favourite Kiki Bertens in the Azalea Group.
Though she claimed the titles in St. Petersburg and Madrid, Bertens couldn’t keep the momentum going all through the season and fell just short of the WTA Finals.
If the draw holds, Bertens should dominate the group. She won her last two matches against Vekic and her only showdown with Yastremska.
Still, Yastremska isn’t to be taken lightly. Ranked World No.60 in 2018, the Russian ace has been on the rise and currently sits at No.23. Just a few weeks ago in Wuhan, she defeated World No.2 Karolina Pliskova.
Led by Sofia Kenin (2), the Camellia Group includes Alison Riske and Karolina Muchova.
Kenin started out the season strong with the title in Hobart, went on to win in Majorca and Guangzhou and got as far as the semis in Toronto and Cincinnati.
In June, Riske (7) surprised Bertens to raise the winner’s trophy in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. She also managed to overpower Ashleigh Barty and Belinda Bencic this season.
As for Muchova, in the past few months, she moved up from World No.144 to No.26, found her way to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and netted the title in Seoul.
Leading the charge for the Orchid Group is Madison Keys. A longstanding member of the Top 20, she prevailed in Charleston and Cincinnati this year.
Petra Martic got off to a rocky start in 2019 but eventually found her game, playing her way into the quarters or better of every tournament she entered and coming in first in Istanbul.
In July, wildcard Saisai Zheng secured her very first WTA title in San Jose. She’s also had great success in doubles, in which she’s currently ranked World No.27.
Last but not least is the very tough Rose Group.
Despite her highs and lows, Aryna Sabalenka remains a force to be reckoned with. On the heels of a breakout season last year, she collected two more winner’s trophies in Shenzhen and Wuhan and vanquished World No.1 Barty.
Earlier this year, Elise Mertens (6) racked up back-to-back wins over Bertens, Kerber and Simona Halep to collect the title in Doha. She also had a string of feats in doubles, in which she’s ranked World No.3.
As for Maria Sakkari, 2019 has proven to be the best year of her budding career. She grabbed hold of her very first WTA title in Morocco, where she had to fight off Mertens, Alison Van Uytvanck and Johanna Konta. Capitalizing on her triumph, she fought through the qualifying rounds all the way to the semifinals in Rome.
It’ll be interesting to see who gains the upper hand this week in Zhuhai. Last year, ninth seed Ashleigh Barty took the top honours at the tournament, in which only Sabalenka, Mertens and Keys also competed.