MOSCOW, Russia - Five-time BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global winner Serena Williams was forced to withdraw due to a right shoulder injury; having already qualified for the WTA Finals back in August, the former No.1's absence means one more woman can join the Elite Eight.
"The race now intensifies this week as players fight for the remaining berth," says WTA CEO Steve Simon.
The stage is set for a battle royale at Moscow's Kremlin Cup, the final Premier-level tournament of the 2016 season. Johanna Konta currently sits at No.9 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard - No.8 without Serena - but should either Carla Suárez Navarro or Svetlana Kuznetsova - who won the title last year - take home the trophy by week's end, they will leapfrog the Brit and complete the field in Singapore.
All three women have enjoyed solid fall swings, as Konta finished runner-up at the China Open, her best result at a Premier Mandatory tournament in what has already been a breakthrough year for the first British woman to crack the Top 10 since Jo Durie in 1984. Kuznetsova saved a match point to defeat 2015 WTA Finals champion Agnieszka Radwanska en route to the semifinals of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, while Suárez Navarro is coming off a semifinal finish at the Generali Ladies Linz.
Kuznetsova is the top seed in Moscow, and begins her title defense against either Alizé Cornet or Shelby Rogers after receiving a first round bye. Suárez Navarro also has a bye into the round of 16, and will begin her tournament as the No.3 seed against either Lucie Safarova or Daria Gavrilova.
"Fans can expect an exciting WTA Finals this year," continued Simon, "with reigning champion Agnieszka Radwanska defending her title and our World No.1 Angelique Kerber seeking to consolidate her outstanding season with a victory in Singapore."
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.