The draw is out for the 2021 Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara, where the 50th staging of the tour's prestigious season-ending championships is set to begin Wednesday, Nov. 10. The WTA Finals pit the top eight singles players and doubles teams on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals against each other in a round-robin format for a total prize pool of $5 million dollars.
The draw was conducted at a private gala Monday night at the Palacio Municipal de Zapopan with all players and teams in attendance as well as dignitaries and VIPs. The group names - Chichén Itzá, Teotihuacán, Tenochtitlán and El Tajín - are a tribute to the pre-Colombian era of Mexican history, with all four groups being named after ancient cities in Mexico.
Here's how the groups shook out:
Key singles takeaways
No.3 seed Pliskova the one to beat in Group Teotihuacán
In Group Teotihuacán, No.3 seed Pliskova came out as the heavy draw winner. Not only is the big-serving Czech the most experienced WTA Finals player in the field - she has qualified five straight years, making the semifinals in the past three - but Pliskova is the only player with a positive head-to-head against the group. She holds a 13-2 combined record against Group Teotihuacán, with her only two losses coming to Muguruza. But the Czech leads even their rivalry by a hefty margin, winning eight of their 10 prior meetings, and she has never lost to either Krejcikova (2-0) or Kontaveit (3-0).
In contrast, No.2 seed and French Open champion Krejcikova is 2-3 versus the group, Muguruza is 5-12 (though eight of those losses came to Pliskova) and No.8 seed Kontaveit is 2-3. When Krejcikova and Muguruza face off in group play, it will be their fourth meeting of the season and a rematch of the Dubai final. Muguruza prevailed in Dubai, but Krejcikova won twice during the summer hardcourts in Cincinnati and the US Open.
While the head-to-head numbers might not be in her favor, Kontaveit takes her 10-match winning streak into Guadalajara. With four hardcourt titles in her past seven tournaments, the Estonian is the hottest player in the field.
Top seed Sabalenka and Sakkari come out as frontrunners in Group Chichén Itzá
In Group Chichén Itzá, top seed Sabalenka (5-2) and Indian Wells champion Badosa (2-0) have positive head-to-heads against the group, while No.4 seed Maria Sakkari (3-4) and No.5 seed Iga Swiatek (0-2) have losing records. The heaviest head-to-head in this group belongs to Sabalenka, who is 4-1 against Sakkari.
A guaranteed trio of first-time singles matchups
The groupings assure a trio of first-time meetings during the group stage. In Group Chichén Itzá, Sabalenka and Swiatek will pit their high-octane, aggressive game-styles against each other, while Sakkari and Badosa will match up their aggressive, physical game-styles. Group Teotihaucán will see a first meeting between the two players with the most regular-season wins at the WTA Finals in Krejcikova and Kontaveit.
2. Shuko Aoyama (JPN) & Ena Shibahara (JPN)
4. Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) & Demi Schuurs (NED)
5. Samantha Stosur (AUS) & Zhang Shuai (CHN)
7. Darija Jurak (CRO) & Andreja Klepac (SLO)
Group El Tajín
1. Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) & Katerina Siniakova (CZE)
3. Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) & Elise Mertens (BEL)
6. Alexa Guarachi (CHI) & Desirae Krawczyk (USA)
8. Sharon Fichman (CAN) & Giuliana Olmos (MEX)
Key Doubles Takeaways
Experience vs. confidence in Group Tenochtitlán
The Japanese duo of Aoyama/Shibahara lead Group Tenochtitlàn and have played the other teams in the group five times, the most of any other team. That experience could pay off for the No.2 seeds, who are 2-1 against Melichar/Schuurs and 0-1 against US Open champions Stosur/Zhang and Jurak/Klepac.
While Aoyama/Shibahara have the most experience against the field, it's Stosur/Zhang who have a 2-0 record against the group. They are riding an 11-match winning streak after finishing their season with wins in Cincinnati and the US Open.
Group El Tajín is wide open
The four teams in Group El Tajín have faced each other a combined six times. Top seeds and French Open champions Krejcikova/Siniakova are 2-0 against the group, with both wins coming against Fichman/Olmos. They have yet to play against Mertens/Hsieh or Guarachi/Krawczyk. In fact, No.6 seeds Guarachi/Krawczyk will be facing each of the other three teams for the first time.