When considering who should be labeled the “Player of the Year” for 2017 on the WTA Tour, there’s not an easy answer.
Serena Williams won the Australian Open to start the year, but missed most of the rest of the year as she gave birth to her first child.
Jelena Ostapenko was the unexpected winner at the French Open.
Garbine Muguruza won her second career major title at Wimbledon.
Slone Stephens emerged from the four American semifinalists to win the U.S. Open.
Venus Williams reached two major finals at the Australian and Wimbledon and was the most consistent player on the Grand Slam stage.
Simona Halep was one of four players to rank No. 1 in the world during the year, joining Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber and Muguruza.
All of this schizophrenic form from the top players make the year-end WTA Tour Finals in Singapore much more intriguing as the year-end top ranking is on the line and the “Player of the Year” will be determined.
While Pliskova, Muguruza and Halep have all secured the No. 1 ranking in the last three months, seven of the eight players playing in Singapore have a mathematical chance to finish the year as the world No. 1.
Halep enters Singapore as the world No. 1 and after finally breaking through and achieving the top ranking – after three high-profile match losses that would have given her the historic rank. Now that she has achieved this important career milestone, the pressure will be “off” Halep in Singapore and she could free-wheel and play pressure free, which will benefit her greatly.
Pliskova backed into the No. 1 ranking when she lost in the second round at Wimbledon, benefitting from Halep and her nerves getting the best of her in the quarterfinals against Jo Konta, when a win would have given her the top ranking. Pliskova loves the controlled indoor conditions with her big serve and has motivation to garner a signature tournament on her 2017 season.
As great of a champion as Muguruza is, she has only been a champion at five WTA events, which is quite astonishing. She has won two titles this year at Wimbledon and Cincinnati – her first multi-win season – so she is becoming more comfortable with “winning” and becoming a consistent star on tour.
Other than Muguruza, the only other multiple major winner in Singapore is Venus Williams, who loves the indoor conditions. Venus always seems to rise to the occasion in big matches and, even at age 37, may be poised to rise again at this year-end event.
Elina Svitolina has had a breakthrough season, establishing herself as Top 5 talent and is destined to win majors and could take another step forward in her career with the title in Singapore.
Caroline Garcia was the last player to qualify for the year-end championships, but is also on the rise after defeating Halep in the final of the China Open in Beijing. Andy Murray once tweeted that Garcia would become No. 1 in the world when she first played at Roland Garros. Years later, she is starting to live up to that promise.
Wozniacki reached seven tournament finals in 2017, losing her first six before winning in Tokyo this Fall. Ostapenko has also won in the Asian Fall swing in Seoul, South Korea, her first title since her break-through win at Roland Garros. Both baseliners are in form and could also provide for a surprise in the wide-open field that has WTA finals betting odds in a constant state of flux