WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | A closer look at what the WTA Roadmap's player entry rules mean for Top 10 players.
WTA Staff

TORONTO, Canada - Caroline Wozniacki has questioned WTA rules she believed "pushed" her to play through injury. Wozniacki told reporters she had not practiced for a week in hopes of being healthy for the Rogers Cup in Toronto, and that rustiness showed in her opening round loss to Belinda Bencic.

"The rules if you're a Top 10 player are that this was my commitment tournament, and you're forced to play. If you don't, you get huge money fines. You get zero points to your ranking. Plus they wouldn't allow me to play small tournament in this half of the year, which is crazy."

As part of the WTA's Roadmap changes, which were instituted in 2009, Top 10 players - determined by their ranking at the end of the previous season - are required to play four Premier 5 tournaments. The Premier 5 tournaments on the calendar this year are Dubai, Rome, Toronto, Cincinnati, and Wuhan. Players commit to the tournaments they choose prior to the start of the year in order to aid those tournaments in promotions, sponsorship, and ticket sales. As a result of the increased player commitment the overall prize money at WTA events has increased by 80 percent since 2008.

"Tournaments invest so much money and effort into making top players come to the events," said Victoria Azarenka. "So there should be an obligation for us to make an effort, I believe."

If a Top 10 player satisfies their commitments, they are eligible for at least $100,000 in bonus pool money at the end of the season. If a Top 10 player plays all five Premier 5 tournaments as well as all four Premier Mandatory tournaments, she is eligible for a "Super Bonus", a minimum of $25,000 at the end of the year.

If a player plays all her commitment tournaments, she is also eligible to play a third International tournament the following year. Currently, all Top 10 players are allowed to play two International tournaments, one in the first half of the season and one in the second half of the season.

Any Top 10 player who withdraws from a commitment tournament receives a mandatory zero pointer on their rankings. For example, Maria Sharapova, a Top 10 player who withdrew from Toronto with a leg injury, will receive zero points and forfeit her right to any Premier 5 bonus pool money at the end of the year (Sharapova also withdrew from Dubai earlier this year due to injury).

As for the prospect of being hit with "huge money fines", a Top 10 player can avoid fines by fulfilling her ACES commitment - ACES include promotional work on behalf of the tournament - either during the tournament or within 51 weeks of the tournament, which would also result in being entered into the event the following year. By completing the ACES, the player would avoid the withdrawal fine.

"There are some circumstances that are unfortunate, but I believe that you have to just try to make the best schedule possible for yourself," Azarenka said. "And sometimes it's difficult to predict, but there should be rules. And I believe that we also have to make effort for tournaments."

Wozniacki played last week at the Bank of the West Classic, after taking a late wildcard into the event. She arrived in Stanford already nursing a leg injury. She lost in her opening round to Varvara Lepchenko. Asked whether she regretted playing the non-mandatory event, Wozniacki said hindsight is 20/20.

"You can always look back and say something could have changed, but at the end of the day, right now I'm just looking forward to the next one, because I'm feeling good," she said. "My body is feeling good. It's the first day I can say that. And even after a match my body is feeling good.

"So I'm excited to get a lot of practice in, and hopefully a better tournament in Cincinnati and the US Open. You know, I'm just happy that finally my body is showing signs of improvement and I can go from here."

Wozniacki's next tournament is next week's Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. She made the semifinals last year.