BEIJING, China - At the start of the China Open, 13 players were in contention for the final three qualifying spots for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Two days into the tournament, Caroline Wozniacki has clinched one of those three positions, while Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko is a win away from securing a spot for her Singapore debut.
On the strength of a title run at the Korea Open and semifinal run at last week's Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, Ostapenko can secure her Singapore spot with a win in her opening match against Sam Stosur in Beijing. The 20-year-old Latvian could also qualify if CoCo Vandeweghe (vs. Christina McHale), Sloane Stephens (vs. Donna Vekic), and Caroline Garcia (Elise Mertens or Dominika Cibulkova) all lose in the opening round. Both Ostapenko and Garcia have performance byes into the second round and play on Tuesday.
After a busy weekend at the China Open, three players have been eliminated from qualifying contention. Last year's Singapore semifinalist Svetlana Kuznetsova, US Open quarterfinalist Anastasija Sevastova, and St. Petersburg champion Kristina Mladenovic, all bowed out in the first round, ending their qualifying hopes.
Eyes quickly turned to Britain's Johanna Konta, who for the second consecutive season, finds herself mired in a qualifying campaign that could go down to the wire. Last season, Konta held the No.8 qualifying position only to see Kuznetsova win the Kremlin Cup title to leapfrog the Brit on the last day of the regular season.
With an opportunity to create space between the chasing pack on the Porsche Race to Singapore, Konta suffered her fifth consecutive loss, bowing out in straight sets to Monica Niculescu in Beijing. The loss opens the door for Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open champion Garcia, two-time major semifinalist Vandeweghe, and US Open champion Stephens. With two weeks remaining in the season after Beijing, Garcia, Vandeweghe, or Stephens could move into the No.8 spot on the Porsche Race to Singapore Leaderboard next week by winning the Beijing title.
A combination of results could actually see the full WTA Finals field confirmed this week. If the following happens at the China Open, Konta would become the eighth and final qualifier for Singapore:
- Vandeweghe fails to reach the third round;
- Stephens fails to reach the quarterfinals;
- Garcia fails to reach the semifinals;
- The title is not won by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Vesnina, Angelique Kerber, or Ashleigh Barty
If those conditions are met, the field for the Elite Eight would be set for Singapore:
1. Garbiñe Muguruza
2. Simona Halep
3. Elina Svitolina
4. Karolina Pliskova
5. Venus Williams
6. Caroline Wozniacki
7. Jelena Ostapenko*
8. Johanna Konta*