Roland Garros champion Simona Halep seeks to turn the end of her breakthrough year around at the VTB Kremlin Cup, leading an intriguing field into the final week of the regular season.
Hampered by a back injury, the World No.1 took early losses at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open and the China Open, retiring after one set in the latter to Ons Jabeur. Halep has a first round bye in Moscow, a tournament she last played in 2013, when she rode a nine-match winning streak through the season-ending WTA Tournament of Champions in Sofia. The Romanian won't have an easy opener against either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Australian wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic; both women took her to three sets at the Coupe Rogers and Western & Southern Open, respectively.
Even more interesting is the last chapter of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global qualification saga. No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova came within one match of securing her spot outright at the Tianjin Open, but nonetheless comes into Moscow in pole position alongside Elina Svitolina, who currently round out the Top 8 on the Race to Singapore leaderboard.
Looking to spoil that party is No.4 seed Kiki Bertens, who must make the semifinals in Moscow to bump either Pliskova or Svitolina out of Singapore; should both the Cincinnati champion and Pliskova make the final four, Svitolina will find herself out of contention.
Pliskova will open against one of two qualifiers or lucky losers, while Bertens begins her week with either Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Mihaela Buzarnescu. If Bertens falls in her opening match, the Singapore field is automatically set.
VTB KREMLIN CUP DRAW
 [WC] S. Halep (ROU) - Bye
A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs. A. Tomljanovic (AUS)
A. Cornet (FRA) vs. Qualifier/Lucky Loser
L. Tsurenko (UKR) vs.  D. Kasatkina (RUS)
 K. Bertens (NED) - Bye
A. Sasnovich (BLR) vs. M. Buzarnescu (ROU)
D. Gavrilova (AUS) vs. Qualifier/Lucky Loser
J. Konta (GBR) vs.  E. Mertens (BEL)
 A. Kontaveit (EST) vs. [WC] A. Potapova (RUS)
K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs. [WC] A. Kalinskaya (RUS)
E. Makarova (RUS) vs. Qualifier/Lucky Loser
 [WC] S. Stephens (USA) - Bye
 A. Sevastova (LAT) vs. M. Rybarikova (SVK)
Y. Putintseva (KAZ) vs. I. Begu (ROU)
Qualifier/Lucky Loser vs. Qualifier/Lucky Loser
 K. Pliskova (CZE) - Bye