SINGAPORE - The groups are set for the 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, which sees top seed Angelique Kerber drawn into the Red Group full of WTA Finals debutantes, while two former champions, Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova, anchor the White Group.
With World No.1 Simona Halep's withdrawal due to injury, 2016 finalist Kerber and defending champion Wozniacki topped the field as the top two seeds.
Here's how the seeds shook out into the Red Group and White Group,
No.1 Angelique Kerber
No.3 Naomi Osaka
No.5 Sloane Stephens
No.8 Kiki Bertens
No.2 Caroline Wozniacki
No.4 Petra Kvitova
No.6 Elina Svitolina
No.7 Karolina Pliskova
Here's an overall look at how the field have fared this year, both on tour and against Top 10 players:
1. Angelique Kerber: 45-17, 5-8 vs. Top 10
2. Caroline Wozniacki: 40-15, 2-0 vs. Top 10
3. Naomi Osaka: 40-17, 3-6 vs. Top 10
4. Petra Kvitova: 47-14, 7-1 vs. Top 10
5. Sloane Stephens: 33-18, 4-4 vs. Top 10
6. Elina Svitolina: 39-15, 4-3 vs. Top 10
7. Karolina Pliskova: 47-21, 4-4 vs. Top 10
8. Kiki Bertens: 44-21, 10-5 vs. Top 10
Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova are the draw winners.
Only two players have a combined winning record against their respective groups: Stephens and Kvitova. No.5 seed Stephens is a combined 6-1 against the Red Group, including an impressive 4-1 against Kerber. The American has played Osaka and Bertens just once, winning both times.
Kerber has the second-best record in the Red Group at 6-6. While she has struggled against Stephens, the Wimbledon champion is 3-1 against Osaka and 2-1 against Bertens.
Over in the White Group, 2011 champion Kvitova is the runaway favorite to lead the group. The tour's leader in titles in 2018 and a finalist in Singapore in 2015, No.4 seed Kvitova is an astounding 18-6 combined against Wozniacki, Svitolina, and Pliskova. Included in that is a 7-1 record against Svitolina and 3-0 against her compatriot Pliskova.
Wozniacki and Pliskova both have the second-best winning percentage against the White Group. Wozniacki is a combined 12-15 against the White Group, while Pliskova is a combined 8-11 against the group.
Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens have a tough mountain to climb.
Svitolina and Bertens were chatting amiably on the stage during the draw ceremony, and one has to wonder (jokingly) if they might have been negotiating a group switch. Svitolina has winning records against Kerber and Osaka in the Red Group, but she was drawn into the White Group, where she's a combined 6-13.
Similarly, Bertens has had relative success against the White Group, but she is 1-4 against the Red Group. Bertens, who is making her tournament debut here, leads the tour in Top 10 wins this season, posting a 10-5 record this year. Can she tap into that magic to pull off a Singapore stunner?
The White Group kicks off play on Sunday.
Petra Kvitova puts her seven match win-streak against Elina Svitolina on the line in the first match on Sunday. Kvitova has not lost a set to Svitolina since 2015, having won 12 consecutive sets since then. The two face off just once in 2018, in the Round of 16 in Doha, which Kvitova won 6-4, 7-5.
Caroline Wozniacki will follow, taking on Karolina Pliskova. Wozniacki leads their head-to-head 6-3 but this is their first meeting of the season, an ironic fact given they met six times in 2017, including here in the semifinals last fall.
The Red Group gets underway on Monday.
While the White Group sees familiar foes goes against each other, the Red Group features fewer data points. Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens will kick things off and the two have played just once. That singular match came over two years ago in Acapulco, with Stephens winning 6-3, 7-5.
Angelique Kerber begins her tournament against Kiki Bertens, in their first hardcourt meeting since 2016. Kerber leads the head-to-head 2-1, with their only 2018 meeting coming at Roland Garros, where the German stunned an in-form Bertens 7-6(4), 7-6(4). Kerber may have the edge in the head-to-head, but their matches have always been tight. Their two other meetings both went three sets, and their sole hardcourt meeting in 2016 ended with a Bertens retiring in the third set.