WTA Finals Shenzhen 2019: Meet the elite eight battling for the season-ending championships title

Hannah Wilks in WTA 24 Oct 2019
  • The 2019 WTA Finals takes place in Shenzhen from 27 October-3 November
  • Meet the eight players who make up the elite singles field
Elina Svitolina is the defending champion at the WTA Finals Shenzhen (PA Sports)

Meet the elite players who make up the field as the WTA Finals is played in Shenzhen for the first time in 2019.

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Just one WTA Tour event remains in the 2019 season and it's a big one: The Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, the year-end championships which brings together the eight best players of the season to compete for a record $14 million in prize money.

The WTA Finals, which has a history stretching back to 1972 and which includes the sport's greatest legends among its champions over the year, is open only to the eight singles players who have accumulated the most ranking points over the course of the calendar year, and qualification for the tournament is an honour for which players compete fiercely over the course of the season.

With the regular WTA Tour season almost over, the player field for the 2019 WTA Finals Shenzhen has been confirmed. Meet the 'elite eight' for 2019, who will be competing when the season-ending championships are played in Shenzhen for the first time from 27 October-3 November.

Ashleigh Barty

Age: 23

Representing: Australia

2019 record
Win-loss: 52-11
Titles: French Open, Miami (PM), Birmingham (P)
Other best results: Runner-up in Beijing (PM) and Sydney (P)

WTA Finals record
First appearance

Head-to-head vs the field:

Australia's Ash Barty will be making her singles debut at the WTA Finals in 2019 after a brilliant breakthrough season which saw the softly-spoken young woman begin the year by making her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open, go on to win her biggest title so far at the Miami Open and be crowned Australia's first Grand Slam champion for almost a decade at the French Open.

Barty went on to rise to world no. 1 after winning the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham and has largely held on to the top spot since. She comes into Shenzhen off the back of a strong Asian swing which saw her reach the semifinals of the Wuhan Open and the final of the China Open where she finished runner-up to Naomi Osaka.

One potential issue for Barty is that the only member of the field she has a winning record against - Karolina Pliskova - she can't possibly draw in the same round-robin group, but she has at least one win against all the other seven players except for Bianca Andreescu and Belinda Bencic, whom she has never played, and Elina Svitolina, who has won all five of their previous encounters.

Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova (PA Sports)
: 2

Age: 27

Representing: Czech Republic

2019 record
Win-loss: 50-15
Titles: Rome (PT), Brisbane (P), Eastbourne (P), Zhengzhou (P)
Other best results: Australian Open semifinal

WTA Finals record
Played: 3 (2016-18)
Best result: Semifinalist, 2017-18
Win-loss record: 5-6

Head-to-head vs the field:

'Ace queen' Karolina Pliskova, one of two Czech players in the WTA Finals Shenzhen field, has capped another strong season by qualifying for the season-ending championships for the fourth straight year. Starting the year with a run to the Australian Open semifinals, pulling off a remarkable comeback win over Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, Pliskova went on to win prestigious titles on clay (Rome), grass (Eastbourne) and hard courts (Brisbane and Zhengzhou).

A semifinalist in 2017 and 2018 in Singapore, will Pliskova find the courts in Shenzhen to her taste? The big-serving Czech only has a winning record against one player in the field, Elina Svitolina, but has won multiple matches against Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka in the past.

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka (PA Sports)
: 3

Age: 22

Representing: Japan

2019 record
Win-loss: 39-11
Titles: Australian Open, Beijing (PM), Osaka (P)
Other best results: Semifinalist, Brisbane (P), Sydney (P)

WTA Finals record
Played: 1 (2018)
Best result: RR, 2018
Win-loss record: 0-3

Head-to-head vs the field:

Naomi Osaka returns to the WTA Finals a year after making her debut in Singapore, and will be hoping to do better than she did when, hampered by injury, she went winless in the round-robin stages on her debut.

Osaka started 2019 by becoming the first player in almost 20 years to win their first Grand Slam titles back-to-back when she won the Australian Open after having claimed her maiden major at the 2018 US Open. Becoming world no. 1 at the same time, Osaka had some sub-par results and discarded two coaches but surged back strongly during the Asian swing, winning the Pan-Pacific Open after finishing runner-up twice and going on to win the China Open in Beijing.

The powerful Japanese-Haitian player has a winning or tied record against every player in the field except for Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic, who she will be hoping to avoid in the round-robin.

Bianca Andreescu

Bianca Andreescu (PA Sports)
; 4

Age: 19

Representing: Canada

2019 record
Win-loss: 48-5
Titles: US Open, Indian Wells (PM), Toronto (P5)
Other best results: Runner-up, Auckland (I)

WTA Finals record:
First appearance

H2H vs the field:

An incredible, record-breaking breakthrough season for Bianca Andreescu sees the 19-year-old Canadian, the youngest woman in the field, making her WTA Finals debut in Shenzhen in 2019.

Ranked world no. 152 in January, Andreescu has climbed all the way into the top five. Making her maiden WTA Tour final in the first week of the season in Auckland, she went on to win the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March as a wildcard ranked outside the top 50. A shoulder injury largely kept her off the court until August when she returned in style, winning the Rogers Cup in Canada before becoming the nation's first Grand Slam champion at the US Open.

Andreescu's 17-match winning streak was finally snapped in Beijing by Naomi Osaka, who also became the first top-10 player to beat the young Canadian after she defeated the first eight that she faced.

Simona Halep

Simona Halep (PA Sports)
: 5

Age: 28

Representing: Romania

2019 record
Win-loss: 42-15
Titles: Wimbledon
Other best results: Runner-up, Madrid (PM), Doha (P)

WTA Finals record
Played 4 (2014-17)
Best result: Runner-up, 2014
Win-loss record: 6-8

H2H vs the field:

One of only three players to have a winning record against the rest of the field, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has qualified for the WTA Finals for the sixth straight year.

The Romanian was not able to play the WTA Finals in 2018 due to a back injury and there are injury concerns for Halep as well coming into the 2019 tournament: She has only won back-to-back matches once since Wimbledon, and that ended in a retirement in Toronto to Marie Bouzkova.

Since finishing runner-up to Serena Williams at the 2014 WTA Finals, Halep has only ever managed to win one round-robin match per appearance and will be hoping to improve on that in 2019.

Petra Kvitova

Age: 29

Country: Czech Republic

2019 record:
Win-loss: 37-13
Titles: Sydney (P), Stuttgart (P)
Other best results: Runner-up, Australian Open and Dubai (P5)

WTA Finals record
Played 6 (2011-15, 2018)
Best result: Champion, 2011
Win-loss: 10-11

H2H vs the field:

The oldest woman in the field, and the most experienced, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will be playing the WTA Finals for the seventh time when she takes to the court in Shenzhen.

Kvitova missed out on the season-ending championships in 2016 and 2017 but returned in 2018 after a strong season saw her return to the top 10 in the wake of the devastating injury she suffered at the end of 2016.

The left-hander has had her season impacted by a forearm injury in 2019 but still reached her third Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, finishing runner-up to Naomi Osaka, and won titles in Sydney and Stuttgart. Most recently she was a semifinalist in Wuhan.

Belinda Bencic

Age: 22

Representing: Switzerland

2019 record:
Win-loss: 48-20
Titles: Dubai (P5), Moscow (P)
Other best results: Semifinalist, US Open, Indian Wells (PM), Madrid (PM)

WTA Finals record:
First appearance

H2H vs the field:

The third player to be making their debut at the WTA Finals in 2019, Belinda Bencic was also the last to secure her place among the elite eight, which she did in dramatic fashion by winning the title at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

Ranked outside the top 50 at the beginning of 2019 after having to battle back following some serious injury problems, the former teenage phenomenon made her first major semifinal in 2019 at the US Open and beat four top-10 players in a row to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Elina Svitolina

Age: 25

Country: Ukraine

2019 record:
Win-loss: 35-21
Titles: 0
Other best results: Semifinalist, Wimbledon, US Open, Indian Wells (PM)

WTA Finals record: 
Played 2 (2017-18)
Best result: Champion, 2018
Win-loss: 6-2

H2H vs the field:

Defending champion Elina Svitolina has had an up and down season as she struggled with a knee injury and failed to win a title, but did record the best Grand Slam results of her career, making the semifinals of Wimbledon and the US Open.

One of the last to secure her spot, Svitolina will hope for equal success as she returns to the scene of her greatest career triumph. Unheralded in 2018 when she made a brilliant run to the title without losing a match, the Ukrainian will be under much more pressure as the defending champion in Shenzhen.

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WTA Finals Shenzhen 2019: Meet the elite eight battling for the season-ending championships title

Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu lead the field at the 2019 Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen: Meet the players who will be battling for glory as the WTA's year-end championships takes place in Shenzhen for the first time, 27 October-3 November

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