Aryna Sabalenka (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty Images).
The increasingly unpredictable nature of women’s tennis will be on display in Guadalajara on Wednesday when a severely depleted field closes the curtain on a tumultuous 2021 season in the WTA Tour Finals.
With 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams injured, quadruple Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka on extended hiatus and Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty choosing to skip the event, there will remain an all-European field of eight women. . the end of season title.
It marks the final end of a season where the only certainty has been uncertainty.
This point is reflected by the fact that this season’s four Grand Slam finals featured eight different players.
Only two of the 2021 Grand Slam finalists made it to Mexico for the WTA final: Czech Barbora Krejcikova, the world number three who won Roland Garros in June, and her compatriot Karolina Pliskova, beaten by Barty at Wimbledon.
The two teenage sensations that lit up the US Open – British fairy tale winner Emma Raducanu, 18, and Canadian Leylah Fernandez, 19 – failed to qualify.
Six of the eight players on the field are entering the WTA final for the first time, with Pliskova and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza the only veterans.
The tournament, which takes place in Mexico this year after being moved from its usual home in Shenzhen, China due to the pandemic, sees the field split into two groups of four.
The winners and finalists of the groups advance to the semi-finals.
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus begins the event as a seed, advancing to the finals after a season that has seen wins in Abu Dhabi and Madrid followed by appearances in the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Second seed Pliskova has yet to join the winner’s circle this season, with the highlight remaining his march to the final at Wimbledon. Greece’s Maria Sakkari, seeded five in Mexico, is also aiming for her first title of the year.
As the only 2021 Grand Slam champion in the lineup, third seed Krejcikova may well become the player to beat.
The 25-year-old Brno player has picked up victories in Strasbourg and Prague this season to accompany her first Grand Slam victory at Roland Garros, and capped a breakthrough with a doubles gold alongside Katerina Siniakova at the Tokyo Olympics.
Krejcikova will also be Siniakova’s doubles partner again in Guadalajara.
Polish Iga Swiatek, surprise winner of Roland Garros in 2020, is seeded fourth, looking to win a third tournament in 2021 after victories in Adelaide and Rome.
Spain’s sixth-seeded Muguruza, who hasn’t made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam this year, is also aiming for a third title after winning Doha and Chicago.
Muguruza’s compatriot Paula Badosa arrives in Guadalajara after a confidence victory at Indian Wells last month, the second title of his career following a victory in Belgrade in May.