Saturday, October 22, 2016

Singapore Sling--WTA recipe

Blend appropriate quantities of Cointreau, pineapple juice, grenadine, brandy, Benedictine, lime juice, and gin. Crush the players with impossible scheduling and shake until they drop. Garnish with an orange slice, a maraschino cherry and a photoshoot. Be careful not to drink more than one a year.

Moscow is more than 5,200 miles from Singapore. Just ask Svetlana Kuznetsova--she knows. Today, Kuznetsova defended her 2015 Moscow title, then had to board a plane for a very long flight to Singapore, the site of the WTA Finals. In winning the Kremlin Cup, the Russian veteran secured the eighth spot in the prestigious year-end event.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, Johanna Konta was cooling her heels, getting her photo taken, and not knowing whether she was a contender or an alternate.

Something is clearly wrong, and not for the first time. Last year, Timea Bacsinszky, in a similar situation that Kuznetsova found herself in this year, decided to make a go at grabbing the eighth spot, and entered the Luxembourg tournament. But the WTA waited until October to announce that Road to Singapore points would not be given for Luxembourg competition. This move shut Bacsinszky out of contention. At the same time, the top seven Road to Singapore players had to wait--just like this year--to find out whether Carla Suazrez Navarro, who was competing in Moscow, would join them. She didn't qualify, as it turns out.

So Kuznetsova enters the WTA Finals as she lands in Singapore, while the others have been posing and dining and practicing in and around the event site. Why, oh why, can't the WTA get this right?

The draw was performed on Friday, and here is the breakdown for round robin play:

Angelique Kerber (1)
Simona Halep (3)
Madison Keys (6)
Dominika Cibulkova (7)

Agnieszka Radwanska (2)
Karolina Pliskova (4)
Garbine Muguruza (5)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (8)

World number 2 Serena Williams isn't there because she withdrew from all competition for the remainder of the year in order to rehab a shoulder injury. Garbine Muguruza's presence in Singapore is a little unusual, in that she won only one tournament in 2016, but it happened to be the French Open. The most dramatic presence in Singapore, in my opinion, is that Cibulkova, who just won the WTA Comeback Award, as well she should have.

Radwanska is the defending champion, and her chances of advancing within her group are pretty good. Kuznetsova is likely to be both physically and mentally tired, and Muguruza is, well, Muguruza. The surface is a hard court, which suits the skills of each of the eight players, though it's arguably the Spaniard's least preferred surface.

The event has been changed to include the eight top doubles teams, instead of the four top teams, as in the past. The top-seeded doubles team is that of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic, who also recently won the WTA Doubles Team of the Year award.

Play begins tomorrow.

No comments: