SINGAPORE - Following two contrasting semifinals, Angelique Kerber and Dominika Cibulkova will renew acquaintances with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on the line. Here are 10 of SAP's finest facts ahead of Sunday's showdown.
1) Familiar foes.
Cibulkova held the early edge in their clashes, racking up four wins over Kerber between 2009 and 2013. However, since then Kerber has edged ahead thanks to five straight victories, the latest of which came in an absorbing round-robin encounter earlier this week.
Since the introduction of the round-robin format in 2003, this is the sixth time players have locked horns twice at the same WTA Finals. The most recent occasion came in 2014, when Simona Halep defeated Serena Williams in the Red Group only to lose their final rematch four days later.
2) Mixed record in finals.
For all Kerber's success in recent years, she still has a mixed record in finals. Although the German has broken the final hoodoo she suffered earlier in her career - between June 2012 and August 2014 she lost eight of nine - her overall win-loss record stands at 10-14. Cibulkova, too, has a history of near misses, winning only seven of the 17 she has contested
3) Can Cibulkova follow in Radwanska's footsteps?
Cibulkova's only win during the round robin came against Halep, after earlier losses to Kerber and Madison Keys. Since the WTA Finals switched format in 2003, only Agnieszka Radwanska in 2015 has gone 1-2 in the round-robin stage and lifted the title.
? WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 29, 2016
4) Cibulkova's ranking on the rise.
The year-end Top 4 is already confirmed - Kerber, Serena, Agnieszka Radwanska and Halep. But No.5 will be Cibulkova's should she collect the title. Even if she fails to do so, by reaching the final she is guaranteed to rise to a career-high No.6.
5) Can Cibulkova make her big breakthrough?
This year, Kerber has joined the Grand Slam winners' club thanks to victories at the Australian and US Opens. For all her career accomplishments, Cibulkova's biggest titles have all come at the next rung down: the Premier events in Moscow (2011), Carlsbad (2012), Stanford (2012) and Eastbourne (2016). She has come close to breaking through this ceiling, though, reaching Grand Slam (Australian Open, 2014), Premier Mandatory (Madrid, 2016) and Premier 5 (Montréal, 2008, Wuhan 2016) finals.
6) Kerber's annual earnings will surpass $10 million.
By reaching the final, Kerber will become the second player in WTA history (after Serena in 2013 and 2015) to surpass $10 million prize money in a single season. Cibulkova, meanwhile, can take her career earnings past the $10 million mark with victory in the championship match.
7) Cibulkova the comeback queen.
There were a number of false dawns for Cibulkova following her return from a serious Achilles injury last year. This March in Katowice she finally returned to the winner's circle, and followed this up with a maiden Premier Mandatory final, in Madrid, and then further silverware, in Eastbourne and then Linz. Her Singapore heroics have taken her 2016 win tally to 52 - a number only bettered by Kerber (63).
8) Best returner in the business.
Kerber's success this year has been built on her superb return game. In the semifinal against Radwanska she broke serve seven times, winning 37 of 61 points on return. She has now broken 21 times in her four matches this week.
9) The magnificent seven.
Kerber is the 19th player to win all three round-robin matches. Seven of those 19 went on to lift the title - Kim Clijsters (2003), Justine Henin (2007), Venus Williams (2008), Serena (2009, 2012, 2013), and Petra Kvitova (2011).
10) The exclusive leftie club.
Kerber is attempting to become just the fifth left-hander to win the title. The other four were Martina Navratilova (1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1986*), Sylvia Hanika (1982), Monica Seles (1990, 1991, 1992) and Kvitova (2011).
* In 1986, the WTA Finals were held twice, in March and November