This Hologic WTA Tour season has delivered one surprise after another. Why should the last five weeks of the regular season be different?
The only thing we know for sure: World No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 2 Ons Jabeur have already qualified for the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, from October 31 to November 7. The doubles team of Barbora Krezhikova and Katerina Senyakova, winners of three major titles this year, is back to defend the year-end title. Eight singles players and eight doubles teams will take the cut.
After that, practically everything is possible. Those who can manage some heavy lifting at marquee events in these five weeks will be punching in their tickets to Texas. There are three WTA 500 matches – Tokyo, Ostrava and San Diego – followed by the WTA 1000 Championships in Guadalajara. There are also five WTA 250 tournaments.
The first expensive item is the Toray Pan Pacific Open, which began this week in Tokyo. Five of the eight ranked players are in competition: No. 1 Paula Padusa, No. 2 Caroline Garcia, No. 4 Veronika Kudermova, No. 5 Beatrice Haddad Maya and No. 8 Elena Rybakina.
The race to the WTA Finals
- Iga Swiatek (9,560)
- Anas Jaber (4,496)
- Jessica Pegula (3,232)
- Coco Gauff (2,983)
- Caroline Garcia (2,896)
- Arina Sabalenka (2871)
- Daria Kasatkina (2,831)
- Simona Halep (2661) (Out of season)
- Maria Scarry (2,358)
- Veronika Kudermitova (2,313)
- Paula Padusa (2,264)
bold = qualified
Garcia, coming from a great summer, is in the best position to get to Fort Worth. It currently occupies fifth place, while Kedermetova (ninth), Padusa (10), Haddad Maya (16) and Rybakina (20) have some work to do.
Perhaps the biggest move recently in terms of the race to the WTA Finals has come from the court. Simona Halep, after having surgery on her nose for both medical and aesthetic reasons, has announced that she will be out for the rest of the year. This is very relevant to the dozens or so of players who tried to finish the race among the top 8 players. Halep, with 2,661 points, was eighth.
They are happy to have tennis back in Tokyo, where COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of play for the past two years. This makes 2019 winner Naomi Osaka the defending champion on the outdoor hard court.
Along with number 3 seed Garbine Muguruza, Sofia Kenin and Rybakina, Osaka is one of the four main champions of the lottery. And while it’s not among the successful contenders, Osaka can be a factor in who or what doesn’t make it to Fort Worth.
Osaka plays in the first round with Daria Savile, and the winner gets between Haddad Maya and Yuki Naito. Haddad Maya got 59 points in Portorož to jump past Anett Kontaveit.
If they had awarded points at Wimbledon, Rybakina would have been in great shape, but she was busy last week in Portoroz, collecting 180 points by reaching the final. Sinyakova won 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-4 Run more than three hours. Rybakina lost ahead of Ekaterina Alexandrova in the race.
Among those looking, Rybakina may have the toughest first-round match in Tokyo, facing Liudmila Samsonova, who ranked 28th just three points lower than Rybakina. Samsonova has won 13 of her past 14 games, including titles in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland. She knocked out 2021 finalist Leila Fernandez at the US Open on her way to the fourth round.
After bidding farewell to the first round, Padusa faces upstart 19-year-old Zeng Kenwen, who ousted Misaki Doi on Monday. Kudermetova, also after a farewell, will face the winner of the match between Kenin and qualifier Fernanda Contreras Gomez. Garcia takes home winner Zhang Shuai and Mai Hontama in the second round.
After winning at Roland Garros a year ago, Krycicova qualified for singles and doubles at the year-end event in Guadalajara. This year, her only focus will be on doubles, as she and Synyakova will appear for the fourth time in a row. They won the title in 2021, becoming the first all-Czech team to win the WTA Finals and will attempt to become the seventh team overall to successfully defend the title.