Top women's tennis players hope to succeed in Asia to book tickets for Singapore
Wozniacki, Ivanovic and Azarenka in a race to qualify for WTA Finals here
It was a seismic shock felt all over the world, and two weeks after what must have surely been a really painful semi-final exit at the US Open, Serena Williams will have to show her mettle once again and bounce back from defeat.
I have no doubt about her mental fortitude; Serena is tough and she is a fighter.
The disappointment of missing out on a calendar-year Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows will only make her stronger and fans inder Singapore should see the world No. 1 back to her best when she defends her crown at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global at the Indoor Stadium from Oct 23 to Nov 1.
Big names like Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic also thrilled fans here last year but they face a huge test if they want to challenge the American superstar next month.
And Victoria Azarenka, feisty, full of charm and character and owner of a tremendous game, has been making great progress on the comeback trail after injury. But the 26-year-old Belarusian also faces an uphill battle to make the season-ending tournament.
It all sets up for an exciting "Asian Swing" of the WTA calendar, as Wozniacki, a former world No. 1, and Grand Slam winners Azarenka (2012, 2013 Australian Open) and Ivanovic (2008 French Open) try to rack up the points to make qualify for Singapore.
At least three major tournaments will be hosted in the region. They will decide the top eight players who will compete for the richest prize in women's tennis - US$7 million ($10.0m).
Serena is top of the WTA Finals Road to Singapore Leaderboard and has already confirmed her spot, along with world No. 2 and No. 3, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova, respectively.
The Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo is reaching a climax and next up is the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open and the China Open in Beijing, along with International-level events in Seoul, Tianjin and Hong Kong.
Wuhan and Beijing are where we will see the most movement up and down the Road to Singapore Leaderboard.
Five spots are up for grabs and there is a huge chunk of points at stake. These events are effectively qualification matches for the WTA Finals.
The next three weeks are critical for players like Wozniacki (No. 14 on the leaderboard), Azarenka (18) and Ivanovic (22) if they want to book a ticket for Singapore.
They need to produce strong results and their final standings will also depend on how the others do.
Wozniacki isn't too far behind and has a good shot at qualifying as she strives to go far at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
The Dane has a strong following everywhere she goes and it will be a treat for fans in Singapore to see her in action again.
Czech Petra Kvitova, who has won three titles this year, is likely to be among the top eight.
There's also Flavia Pennetta, who shot up to sixth on the leaderboard after her incredible win at the US Open.
The Italian, 33, is still playing until the end of the year when she retires, and it would be a great story if she signs off in Singapore.
Spain's Garbine Muguruza, so fluid and powerful when she made the final of this year's Wimbledon, has a growing band of admirers and will be another player eyeing a singles spot here.
Some might remember Muguruza competing in the doubles here last year. This season, her singles career has really come together.
The 21-year old is touted as one for the future, along with American Madison Keys.
WTA RISING STARS
They both have great personalities and it means a lot to the WTA to have two former WTA Rising Stars making their way up the rankings.
The WTA Rising Stars Invitational at the WTA Finals is not to be missed, either.
Based on last week's fan vote results, Tunisia's Ons Jabeur and Poland's Magda Linette are leading the standings for the Rest of the World, while China's Yang Zhaoxuan and Japan's Eri Hozumi lead the way in the Asia-Pacific region.
But, of course, all eyes are on the main draw.
It is wonderful that Serena, Simona and Maria have already confirmed their spots, they each have a unique talent that makes them worth the ticket price anywhere in the world.
Over the next three weeks, some excellent players will be fighting to join them to book their spots at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
*Canadian Melissa Pine, a former NCAA player and vice-president (Asia Pacific) of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), is a columnist for The New Paper. She is the tournament director for the WTA Finals, which made its debut in Singapore last year. Tickets for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global (Oct 23 to Nov 1) are on sale. Prices start from $16.90 - the same as last year.
1. Serena Williams 9,945 pts*
2. Simona Halep 5,675*
3. Maria Sharapova 4,321*
4. Petra Kvitova 3,378
5. Lucie Safarova 3,222
6. Flavia Pennetta 3,034
7. Angelique Kerber 2,970
8. Carla Suarez Navarro 2,906
9. Karolina Pliskova 2,905
10. Garbine Muguruza 2,829
11. Agnieszka Radwanska 2,585
12. Belinda Bencic 2,560
13. Timea Bacsinszky 2,483
14. Caroline Wozniacki 2,437
15. Madison Keys 2,371
16. Sara Errani 2,355
*Qualified for the WTA Finals
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