The Changeover’s All-Inclusive Guide to the 2014 WTA Championships in Singapore

YOU GUYS. It’s time.


That’s right, it’s time for one of my favorite events of the year: The WTA Championships. This is the first year the event is in Singapore, and while Stacey and co. have upped the ante and the field is INCREDIBLE, I must admit that the time difference terrifies me. But I’ll cope. BECAUSE LOOK AT THESE GROUPS:

Red Group= Serena, Halep, Bouchard & Ivanovic
White Group= Sharapova, Kvitova, Radwanska & Wozniacki

The wonderful Andrew Eccles joined me to break down the field and make some predictions. Considering that I know that what you’re about to read is over 3,000 words, I’ll just abruptly stop this intro now.

No. 8: Caroline Wozniacki

WTA Finals appearances: 3 (F: 2010, SF: 2009, RR: 2011)

Best WTA Finals memory:

Andrew: It has to be her final in 2010, where she was defeated 6-3 5-7 6-3 by Kim Clijsters. It was an exciting match up: a rerun of the 2009 US Open final, but this time Wozniacki had arrived as World No. 1 and certainly gave a better battle than she had in her first Slam final. She remained No. 1 after this loss, but until this year at the US Open, Clijsters held the title as the WTA’s official killer-of-Caroline’s-dreams.

Lindsay: Your argument is invalid because it doesn’t include this:

SHE WON THAT MATCH. Peak Woz. Peak Bepa. Peak SEWTA. Peak everything. Case closed.

Andrew: I’m horrified by my oversight, especially after rewatching this awful drama during cramp-gate at the US Open. You’re right. That’s the moment.

Definitive 2014 moment(s):

A: Wozniacki’s 2014 has been more about the summer hard court season than anything else, and it’s been really refreshing to see her remember her game again. For a while Wozniacki seemed to have forgotten how good she was, and we know everyone has their own theory as to why, but we’ve seen a lot of players lately who ascended the rankings quickly and then struggled. Wozniacki is really the sharp edge of that: She was world No. 1 for 67 weeks, and maybe that weighed heavy on her as competition got tougher over the last few years. So, her whole summer has been wonderful, but the definitive moment has to be that extraordinary win over Maria Sharapova at the US Open, which she built upon to reach the final.

L: I agree with you that the win over Maria Sharapova at the US Open was the most impressive, but I pinpoint a different match as the match that I watched and thought, “Not only is Woz going to be okay, she might be better than ever.” It was her semifinal in Eastbourne against Kerber. Yes, yes, she lost the match, but there was some FABULOUS tennis played, and it was the first time in quite a while that I had truly enjoyed a Woz match. (More importantly, it looked like the first time in a while that *she* had enjoyed a Woz match.)

I remember thinking that if she kept that up, she could be a factor again. Lo and behold…

Can she win?

A: She could win.

She can beat Ana, Genie, Aga and Simona, I think, and she’s proved she can show up against Maria. I think she’d need somebody else to take out Serena or Serena’s injury to be a factor, and Kvitova would have to be having one of her bad matches. I have her as my fourth favorite.

L: Could she? Sure. Marin Cilic won the U.S. Open. Things happen. But she has dealt with injuries this fall and has to be exhausted after this year and would have to have a lot of things fall her way, so don’t bet on it.

No.7: Ana Ivanovic

WTA Finals appearances: 2 (SF: 2007, RR: 2008)

Best WTA Finals memory:

A: I haven’t found her appearances at the WTA finals particularly memorable, I must say. I can vaguely recall her tough match against Vera Zvonareva in 2008, which she lost in 3 sets and was therefore knocked out at the Round Robin stage, but otherwise I think her efforts have been fairly drama free…can you help me out, Lindsay?

L: Uuuh, uuum, does this count?

(I didn’t watch much of the 2007 WTA Finals and can’t find any highlights of her wins on YouTube, and I’d be lying if I said I remembered that 2008 match vs. Bepa. #sorri)

A: I see nothing in that photo except for Anna Chakvetadze and the lost dreams of tennis fans all over the world.

Definitive 2014 moment(s):

A: She beat Serena Williams at the Australian Open to start the year, which has really been the driving force behind her confidence for the rest of the season, I think, regardless of the asterisk that has been placed on that victory. Her win over Maria Sharapova at Rome is probably the truly definitive moment – that was huge. Nobody else had beaten Maria on clay this year, and Maria had some ridiculous clay record carried over from 2013 anyway. So, that’s probably the real moment. Although the BEST moment was her other win over Maria Sharapova, the infamous “Check her blood pressure” battle in Cincinnati.

L: You covered the big ones, although I will say that her win against Venus Williams in the final of Auckland to start the year stands out, as does her semifinal win in Rome over Carla Suarez-Navarro. The win over CSN was big because she didn’t play that well and the match almost slipped away but she gutted it out and backed up her big upset of Sharapova, which was something she hasn’t always been able to do.

Can she win?

A: No, I don’t think so. I’ve backed her at a few of the slams this year as a possible champion, but at a Slam she at least gets a few rounds to get into rhythm against lower ranked opponents. I don’t think she’ll be able to sustain intensity against this group, this is an incredibly strong field. She’s in sixth place, for me.

L: She has the talent, especially if Serena isn’t 100%, and she might be okay if she keeps reminding herself that this isn’t a Slam. But injuries are a concern and she’s out of practice, so I agree–no.

No. 6: Eugenie Bouchard

No previous appearances.

Definitive 2014 moment(s):

A: The marketing hype around Bouchard has had the rather unfortunate effect of distracting from the truth of her year, which is that it’s been extraordinary. The young Canadian was more consistent at the Grand Slams than any other player on the tour, and her place in the WTA Finals is completely earned, even if the perceived ‘favoritism’ on the part of the WTA has annoyed a lot of fans. Do not be mistaken: This is a good player! Her definitive moments are thus: broke into the Top 10, reached the Wimbledon final, reached the WTA Finals. I don’t think anyone can really argue with that, as breakthrough years go!

L: Honestly, I’m over the Genie backlash. I like to joke about it, but her year really was phenomenal. I’m trying to pick a definitive performance and I can’t because there were a lot.

But I am going to say her win over CSN in the French Open quarters. (Apparently I have a thing against CSN.) There have been lots of surprising players make it into a Slam semi, but backing up her Oz run at the French really, really made me take notice.

A: I have eternal CSN memory blackouts, and I think it’s good for my general mental well-being.

Can she win?

A: No, she’s not ready.

Part of me wants her to do really well at this tournament, just to silence some of the unfair aggression I see aimed at her a lot. In reality though, I’d probably put her in 8th place in this field.

L: She’s already won the biggest prize of all–Stacey’s heart. (But no, not yet. Be patient, little grasshopper.)

No. 5: Agnieszka Radwanska

WTA Finals appearances: 5 (SF: 2012, RR: 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013)

Best WTA Finals memory:

A: My memory is a bit messed up here because I thought this happened last year, but a quick check online has confirmed that it was in fact 2012 when Aga defeated Kvitova easily in her first RR match, lost a tough three-set match against Sharapova in her second, and then won the longest ever WTA Finals match against Sara Errani to qualify for the SFs. Her legs were completely absent as she went on court to face Serena Williams, and the whole tournament really summed up the curse of Aga’s beautiful game: it can be ruthlessly effective but it just doesn’t get the job done quickly enough.

L: YES. God, everything about the 2012 WTA Championships was oh so Aga, but it must be said that the scheduling really screwed her there–she had to play so many days in a row. Hopefully now that the WTA Finals are expanding soon to a format closer to the ATP’s, that won’t happen anymore.

But let’s watch these highlights:

A: The WTA should release a Top 20 Aga shots video at the end of every year.

Also, how great was Istanbul? The crowds were really engaged, I hope Singapore is similarly enthusiastic.

Definitive 2014 moment(s):

A: For me, two tournaments have mattered in the Aga story this year. The first is Montreal, where she really saved her whole season by taking the title. I’m not sure how Aga has qualified in fifth place this year, considering how terribly it feels like things have gone for her – it’s a testament to how well we’re used to seeing her perform. The second is the Australian Open, both her brilliant victory over Azarenka which was extremely impressive particularly in that 3rd set where she really transcended her game, and her sad defeat to Cibulkova in the semi final which must have been damaging, especially with the scar of Wimbledon 2013 hanging over her. I wonder if she’ll ever match the form she found against Vika, it was breathtaking.

L: You nailed it, Andrew. In fact, those are the only two highlights. This was a year showcased just how breathtaking Radwasnka’s game can be, but also showed that she needs a new direction. I really think it’s time for a coaching change–she needs a new voice and a new level of discipline if she is ever going to win that Slam. Time is running out.

But let’s just remember the good times…

Can she win?

A: On her 2014 form, definitely not. I don’t expect her to show up at this tournament transformed, I think she’s going to need the off-season to regroup and rebuild. She’s ranked fifth but I have her as the seventh favorite.

L: No. She hasn’t looked good at all since winning Montreal. I don’t expect her to go 0-3 like she did last year, but this isn’t her year.

No. 4: Petra Kvitova

WTA Finals appearances: 3 (Champion: 2011, RR: 2012, SF: 2013)

Best WTA finals memory:

A: Winning it in 2011 in three sets against Victoria Azarenka to secure the world No. 2 spot and to further cement her incredible arrival on the scene at the top of the game. She’d already taken the Wimbledon title in a shock victory, and I don’t think I was the only person who thought “this is her, this is the next dominant force, a new era is beginning”. And then…it sort of…didn’t.

L: PEAKvitoka. PEAKtra. Whatever you want to call it. 2011 was so great.

God, how have Petra/Vika rivalries not become a thing??? They literally have not played once since that match, and it was so much fun.

Definitive 2014 moment(s):

A: Winning Wimbledon in stunning fashion. Say what you want about Eugenie Bouchard, the young Canadian showed up for that final and didn’t play badly…she was just barely allowed to play. It was the Petra Kvitova we all thought was going to rule the sport back again and proving she wasn’t a one-year-wonder. Her victory over Venus Williams was a sight to see too, and probably one of the most loved matches of the year, albeit a heartbreaker for Venus fans. Kvitova just has…something, this year. Some intangible aura that makes me feel confident she’s not going to fade away in 2015.

L: I’ve never enjoyed a beat-down as much as I enjoyed Kvitova’s win over Bouchard in the Wimbledon final, and that’s nothing against Bouchard at all. It was just a masterclass by Petra.

Also, let’s not forget the match that sums up P3tra: In Miami she double bageled Ivanovic, after losing the first set.

Can she win?

A: She can lose. She could lose every single set she plays and not make the semi-finals, if she starts hitting at the backboards. I’m going to say something extremely foolish though: i don’t think she’ll lose. I’d put her as favourite for the title.

L: Absofuckinglutely she can win. That would be fun.

No. 3- Simona Halep

No previous WTA Finals appearances.

Definitive 2014 moment(s):

A: Halep is the anti-Bouchard, in that she’s had absolutely no hype despite her brilliant success and higher ranking. Having spent a good portion of the year ranked number 2 in the world, it’s mindboggling that I’ve really struggled to remember seeing her this year. It’s not just her coverage, it’s also her demeanour: she doesn’t make a fuss she just…wins. Of course, how could this slip anyone’s mind (it completely slipped my mind), she made the French Open final! Not only did she reach the final, she played one of the best matches of the year before eventually falling 4-6 7-6(5) 4-6 to Maria Sharapova.

L: For me, the Doha tournament was where I really *got* Simona Halep. I know she came on strong last year, but she won smaller tournaments when, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t paying very close attention. But in Doha she she took out Errani (Who was then No. 4, Andrew. NUMBER FOUR. Like, ranked No. 4. I had forgotten that happened.), Radwanska (then No. 2), and Kerber (then No. 6) back-to-back-to-back to win the biggest title of her career, and THEN I thought that she was really going to be great. (I need lots of clues first.)

Also, her 6-4, 6-0 destruction of Sabine in the Wimbledon quarters was great. And, of course, like you said, that French Open run.

A: Sara Errani was ranked No. 4? Kerber was ranked No.6? Aga was world No.2 in 2014?! All of this is brand new information. I need to pay more attention to tennis.

Also, Sara Errani should ALWAYS be ranked number 4. Just to annoy numbers 5-10.


Could she win?

A: No, I don’t think so. Again, it’s too soon. I’ll be surprised if she makes it out of the Round Robin stage, but I expect her to play tough against a big(ger) name. I’d put her as a solid 5th favourite.

L: I think she’s going to be a bit overwhelmed at her first WTA Finals. I realize that’s a mean thing to say, but it’s just a different atmosphere. Also, she withdrew from Beijing with injury, so there are question marks.

No. 2: Maria Sharapova

Previous WTA Finals appearances: 6 (Won: 2004, F: 2007, 2012, SF: 2005, 2006, RR: 2011)

Best WTA Finals memory:

A: Hey, remember back when Maria could beat Serena Williams? No? That’s because it was mostly happening 10 years ago. Having already stunned Williams by taking the Wimbledon title earlier in the year, Sharapova defeated Williams again in the final of the WTA Championships after fighting back from a 0-4 deficit in the final set to take the match 4-6 6-2 6-4. That one had to sting for Serena, who’s more than gained revenge since!

L: The final against Henin in 2007. I know she lost but the match was just incredible. (I did a whole piece on it when we launched The Changeover, but it’s offline because I was a novice at the time and hosted all of the media offsite, and now they’ve all been deleted and I haven’t spent hours fixing it. But now I want to. Good story, huh?)

A: You lost me at “hosted”. *Bashes keyboard randomly*

Definitive 2014 moment(s):

A: My cup runneth over, Lindsay. Note that many of the definitive moments i’ve mentioned for other players have involved Sharapova – the losses to Ivanovic in Rome and Cincinnati, the French Open victory over Halep, the tough loss to Wozniacki at the US Open. Win or lose, Maria Sharapova has been relentlessly relevant all season. Her losses have been close, her victories have been gritty, and weirdly she’s really established herself as the game’s current clay court specialist! I would have to say that for entertainment, and for my memories of 2014, Sharapova has been the player of the year.

L: God, you’re so right, Andrew. One of us should really do a bigger piece on that during the “offseason.”

But really, her win over Halep in the French Open final and her loss to Kerber in the Wimbledon fourth round were two of my favorite matches of the season.

Could she win?

A: If somebody else beats Serena, absolutely. If not…no, she can’t. She’s my 3rd favourite for the title.

L: Yes. Sure, it depends on Serena, but yes, she could. She only *needs* one player to be less than 100%, and that player is dealing with an injury. I’ll take those odds.

No. 1: Serena Williams

Previous WTA Finals appearances: 6 (Won: 2001, 2009, 2012, 2013, F: 2002, 2004, RR: 2007, 2008)

Best WTA Finals memory:

A: I can’t help but pick the absolutely incredible antics of last year for this section – remember Serena at the WTA finals in 2013? She won, but boy was it messy. One moment she was sprinting around the court like a cheetah, the next her legs seemed to be concrete and she couldn’t get a ball in court. It was as unsettling for her opponents as it was for viewers, and Jelena Jankovic was particularly enraged by the inconsistency of Serena’s abilities. 2013 was a ridiculously busy year for Williams, and I think her body was genuinely at the end of its rope, whilst her mind was telling her to win at all costs. And, somehow, against the odds, she took the title. Euripides himself would have been awed by the drama.

L: You described that quite well. It was pretty incredible, actually. You know what’s insane? Serena hasn’t lost one single match at the WTA Championships in three straight appearances, dating back to her loss in the round robins in 2008 when Venus defeated her 5-7, 6-1, 6-0.

For me, though, her 2012 run stands out. She hadn’t been at the Championships due to injury for the last two years, and after such an incredible second-half of the season where she won Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the U.S. Open, and then took the entire Asian Swing off, I think that many weren’t even expecting her to show up. But, in my opinion, that’s when she really showed that this was the new, full-time Serena. Not only did she show up, but she steamrolled through the field, not dropping a set while taking out Kerber, Li Na, Azarenka, Radwanska, and Sharapova.

It was her first WTA Championships after going through the blood clot and embolism and all of that, and you could just really tell how much more the game meant to her. Of course, that set the stage for her dynamite 2013.

Definitive 2014 moment(s):

A: Winning the US Open. This year would have been a disaster for Williams if she hadn’t won the last slam of the season – taking victories at Rome, Brisbane, Cincinnati and Miami would have been of little comfort without that particular piece of silverware being added to her collection. Her grand slam defeats at the hands of Ivanovic, Muguruza and Cornet were all too ignominious for the current world number 1, and she really had something to prove in New York.

L: In 2014, Serena Williams lost to Alize Cornet three times, but beat every top 10 player she faced and won six titles and a Slam. Everything was a moment.

Could she win?

A: She can win anything, she’s Serena Williams. If she’s fully fit to compete, which she may not be, then she’s certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with. Much like in New York, I think Serena will feel she has something to prove here – and I think she’d relish the opportunity to further assert her dominance over the rest of the elite before the year is up. That said…she’s not always performed well under pressure this year, and the pressure will be high in this tough line up.

She’s my second favurite for the title.

L: Can she win? Duh.

Okay, now that that’s done, a few more pics before our final rankings:

Andrew’s ranking:

1 – Kvitova
2 – Serena
3 – Sharapova
4 – Wozniacki
5 – Halep
6 – Ivanovic
7 – Radwanska
8 – Bouchard

Lindsay’s ranking:

1- Serena
2- Sharapova
3- Kvitova
4- Halep
5- Ivanovic
6- Wozniacki
7- Radwanska
8- Bouchard

Lindsay is an author, a filmmaker, a long-winded blogger, and a huge tennis fan.

14 Responses

  1. Kristin
    Kristin October 18, 2014 at 10:35 pm |

    Excellent analysis! Thank you so much.

  2. Mark
    Mark October 18, 2014 at 11:58 pm |

    You guys are underrating Ana’s and Genie’s chances and overrating Halep’s and Radwanska’s.

    1. Ally
      Ally October 24, 2014 at 9:03 pm |

      It seems not Mark. Both Halep & Radwanska through to the last 4. 🙂

    2. Lucian
      Lucian October 27, 2014 at 7:23 am |

      Say what again? What about Halep, Bouchard???

  3. Serena Williams vs Ana Ivanovic Preview – Red Group Match #1 | WTAAddict

    […] The Changeover’s All-Inclusive Guide to the 2014 WTA Championships in Singapore […]

  4. Sam
    Sam October 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm |

    Loved this a lot.

    Just one thing: In the Halep section, you said Aga was ranked second, Errani fourth, and Kerber sixth. Those were actually their seeds in Doha, not their ranks. Aga was actually ranked fourth, Errani seventh, and Kerber ninth. Perhaps I misread but it sounded as if you were discussing rankings.

    Great guide, keep up the good work! 🙂

  5. Master Ace
    Master Ace October 20, 2014 at 9:26 pm |

    Ace Rankings

    1. Williams, S
    2. Sharapova
    3. Kvitova
    4. Halep
    5. Ivanovic
    6. Bouchard
    7. Radwanska, A
    8. Wozniacki

  6. Jess
    Jess October 22, 2014 at 11:22 am |

    This three days are prefect remainder of the reasons tennis matches are played, not decided by rankings.

  7. Jess
    Jess October 24, 2014 at 6:46 am |

    Current standing… Petra and Maria out, Serena is in real danger…

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  9. Scattered thoughts after the WTA Finals « NOT ON COURT

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  10. George
    George October 27, 2014 at 9:59 am |

    In fact, Simona Halep was the brightest, wasn’t she? Only, in her own sweet manner. Serena was stunned, and so was everybody else!

  11. Sabey
    Sabey October 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm |

    Serena was not too stunned to run away with the trophy!

  12. whatgives
    whatgives October 31, 2014 at 12:57 am |

    SIMONA HALEP = 2014 WTA FINALS. Even without the trophy what she did gives me hope for the WTA. Yes she shone the brightest. Serena will always be Serena but also time is her greatest enemy that is why it’s good for her to be stunned every now and then. 2015, I can’t wait.

Comments are closed.