Singapore - A
supremely unpredictable women's tennis season will culminate in fitting
style at the elite WTA Finals, where seven out of eight players can win
the trophy and also be crowned year-end world number one.
Simona Halep, who became 2017's fifth number one earlier this month,
leads a field which also throws up the beguiling possibility of Venus
Williams, 37, returning to the top of the rankings for the first time
Women's tennis has been on a rollercoaster ride this year, with four
different major-winners and no player able to dominate in the absence of
Serena Williams, who took a break to give birth to her first child.
Halep said the result was that every match would be "like a final" in
Singapore, where action gets underway at the Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Caroline
Wozniacki and Jelena Ostapenko can also become world number one at the
tournament, while Caroline Garcia becomes the first Frenchwoman to reach
"We have the top eight players in the world, and everyone is playing
crazy tennis. I just want to go there and to try to win every match I
can," said Romania's Halep.
Wimbledon champion Muguruza was deposed as world number one by Halep
but she said she would have to be at her very best if she wants to win
the year-end trophy and rankings crown on October 29.
"It is important,
I'm not going to lie, but I know I have to play well," Muguruza told
reporters, when asked about returning to the top of the rankings.
"I know there are so many girls, players, that have the chance. I'm
happy that I got it in the past, and now I'm not that nervous or
obsessed. I think it's different. (But) I'm going to fight for that."
Halep faces debutantes Svitolina and Garcia in the Red Group round
robin, along with the veteran Wozniacki, while Muguruza is in White
Group with Williams, Pliskova and French Open champion Ostapenko.
Garcia may be the lowest-ranked player, but she is on an 11-match
winning streak after her back-to-back victories in Wuhan and Beijing.
Williams, the only player in the field to have lifted the Billie Jean
King Trophy - in Doha in 2008 - said the WTA Tour's strength in depth
had made for an outstanding season.
"Just the depth in the game. The competition is so much greater. It's a beautiful change, in fact," she said.
Williams, resurgent after her battle with Sjogren syndrome, an
autoimmune disorder, has had a remarkable year, reaching two Grand Slam
finals and qualifying for the WTA Finals for the first time since 2009.
The Czech Republic's Pliskova, another of this year's world number
ones, said it was impossible to tell who will finish on top next
"It's very tough to get there, but on the other hand, we are all so close to everyone now on the ranking," she said.
"So this tournament is really going to decide who is going to finish
the year world number one. I think everybody has a good chance," added