This season of the Hologic WTA Tour has already offered surprise after surprise. Why should it be any different in the final five weeks of the regular season?
The only thing we know for sure: World No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 2 Ons Jabeur have already qualified for the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas on October 31-November 7 . The doubles team of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, winners of three major titles this year, are back to defend their year-end title. Eight singles players and eight doubles teams will make the cut.
After that, practically anything is possible. Those who can lift some heavy loads at the marquee events during those five weeks will get their ticket to Texas. There are three WTA 500 – Tokyo, Ostrava and San Diego – followed by a WTA 1000 in Guadalajara. There are also five WTA 250 tournaments.
The first big event is the Toray Pan Pacific Open, which started this week in Tokyo. Five of the eight seeded players are in contention: No. 1 Paula Badosa, No. 2 Caroline Garcia, No. 4 Veronika Kudermetova, No. 5 Beatriz Haddad Maia and No. 8 Elena Rybakina.
Drive to the WTA Finals
- Iga Swiatek (9,560)
- Ons Jabeur (4,496)
- Jessica Pegula (3,232)
- Coco Gauff (2,983)
- Caroline Garcia (2,896)
- Arina Sabalenka (2,871)
- Daria Kasatkina (2,831)
- Simona Halep (2,661) (Out for season)
- Maria Sakkari (2,358)
- Veronica Kudermetova (2,313)
- Paula Badosa (2,264)
Fat = qualified
Having had a great summer, Garcia is in the best position to reach Fort Worth. She is currently fifth while Kudermetova (ninth), Badosa (10th), Haddad Maia (16th) and Rybakina (20th) still have some work to do.
Perhaps the biggest move in recent memory in terms of racing to the WTA Finals came off the pitch. After undergoing surgery on her nose for medical and aesthetic reasons, Simona Halep declared herself out for the rest of the year. That’s relevant for the dozen players trying to make the top 8. Halep was in eighth place with 2,661 points.
They are thrilled to have tennis back in Tokyo, where COVID-19 has forced the game’s cancellation for the past two years. This makes 2019 winner Naomi Osaka the defending champion on the outdoor hard court.
Along with Garbiñe Muguruza, Sofia Kenin and Rybakina, Osaka is one of four big champions in the draw. And while she’s not a viable contender, Osaka could be a factor in shaping who does or doesn’t make it to Fort Worth.
Osaka plays Daria Saville in the first round and the survivor wins between Haddad Maia and Yuki Naito. Haddad Maia scored 59 points in Portoroz to jump past Anett Kontaveit.
If they had awarded points at Wimbledon, Rybakina would have been in superb form, but she was busy last week in Portoroz earning 180 points by reaching the final. Siniakova won a thriller 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-4 ran more than three hours. Rybakina prevailed in the race ahead of Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Of those on the hunt, Rybakina may have the most challenging first-round match in Tokyo, facing Liudmila Samsonova, whose rank at No. 28 is just three places behind Rybakina. Samsonova has won 13 of her last 14 games, including titles in Washington, DC and Cleveland. She defeated 2021 finalist Leylah Fernandez at the US Open en route to the fourth round.
After a first-round bye, Badosa meets up-and-coming 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen, who defeated Misaki Doi on Monday. Kudermetova, also after a bye, meets the winner of the match between Kenin and qualifier Fernanda Contreras Gomez. Garcia gets the winner from Zhang Shuai and Mai Hontama in the second round.
After winning at Roland Garros a year ago, Krejcikova qualified for both singles and doubles at the year-end event in Guadalajara. This year her sole focus will be on doubles, where she and Siniakova are making their fourth consecutive appearance. They won the title in 2021 and became the first all-Czech team to win the WTA Finals and will aim to become the seventh team overall to successfully defend the title.