Zhuhai | WTA Elite Trophy gets underway
With the WTA Championships completed on Sunday in Singapore, the second tier of top ranked players will play off in the WTA Elite Trophy, which starts on Tuesday in Zhuhai.
Conscious that this event might prove anti-climactic to a worldwide audience, the WTA plans to schedule this in future ahead of the year-ending finale, which takes place in City of Shenzhen, China from 2019 through 2028.
The WTA Elite Trophy looks to be equally competitive as the matches in Singapore, with, following Monday’s fraw, top seed Daria Kasatkina from Russia facing America’s Madison Keys, while Spain’s Grabiñe Muguruza takes on Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia.
The 12 players ranked outside of the world’s top 8 will battle it out for honours in a round robin format, involving 4 groups of 3, similar to that of last week’s WTA Finals, which was won by Elina Svitolina.
In this year’s field, 7th-seeded Muguruza is the only player to have won Grand Slam titles, while defending champion Julia Goerges is hoping to become the first player to win the title for a second consecutive year.
“I think it’s a great opportunity being back here again,” Goerges said during her pre-tournament press conference.
“For me, it means that I’ve had a consistent year, which always, like, is the case to be a top player, to be consistent throughout the year”.
The winner from each of the 4 groups will progress to the knockout semi-final stages.
Kasatkina, who recently won her second WTA title on home ground at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, is drawn in the Azalea Group alongside Keys and Wang Qiang.
The 21-year-old has a winning head-to-head record against Qiang, but is yet to defeat Keys on the tour.
Second seed Sevastova, who won the Bucharest Open in July and has recorded 4 wins over top 10 players this season, heads up the Camelia Group with two-time major champion Muguruza and wild carded Zhang Shuai.
“It’s exciting because I’ve never been here in Zhuhai – it’s a different format,” Muguruza told reporters in China.
“Yeah, I think there’s plenty of reasons to be happy to be playing here and hopefully get a good win and finish the year with a good taste.”
Rising star Aryna Sabalenka will face Caroline Garcia and Ash Barty in the Orchid Group as she aims to end her breakthrough season on a high.
The 20-year-old has won two Premier titles since August and is currently ranked No 12 in the world, just a place off her personal best.
In the Rose Group, defending champion Goerges is drawn to play Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit and Elise Mertens from Belgium.
Should she win the tournament, it will be the first time in her career she has won 3 WTA titles within the same season.
The Elite Trophy gets underway on Tuesday at the Hengqin Tennis Center, Zhuhai, following doubles matches Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)  faces Ashleigh Barty(AUS)  and Elise Mertens (BEL)  takes on Anett Kontaveit (EST) .
After the evening Opening Ceremony, Daria Kasatkina (RUS)  meets Wang Qiang (CHN) .