With 150 days to go until the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard is shaping up to be an exciting battle between the prospective debutantes and the tour's resurgent veterans.
Elina Svitolina has enjoyed a breakout season that has seen her transform from one of the tour's most consistent grinders to the winningest player of 2017. The 22-year-old Ukranian's goal for the season is to qualify for her first WTA Finals, and she surged to the top of the leaderboard after snagging her tour-leading fourth title at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.
En route to her biggest clay title yet, she beat Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep to lead the tour with five wins over Top 5 opposition this season. No one has been as consistent or as dangerous as the World No.6, who leads the tour with 31 wins, along with titles in Dubai, Taipei, and Istanbul.
In fact, the only woman who comes close to matching Svitolina's consistency is France's Kristina Mladenovic, who sits at No.7 on the PRTS leaderboard. The 24-year-old has been one of the big stories of the season after a title-run in St. Petersburg launched her confidence into the stratosphere.
Since then she's made three more finals, including back-to-back runs in Stuttgart and Madrid, where she lost narrowly in three sets. An all-court player gifted with gallic flair, Mladenovic's rise has introduced an exciting mix of power and shot-making amongst the game's elite.
Svitolina's strong clay season allowed her to pass the only two in the Top 5 of the PRTS to have played last fall in Singapore, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep. The big-hitting Czech sits at No.2 on the PRTS after dominated the early hardcourt season, winning titles in Brisbane and Doha, while putting herself consistently in the mix at the year's biggest tournaments at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami.
By contrast, Halep has flown up to No.5 on the PRTS leaderboard over the last few weeks thanks to her comfort on her beloved clay. After a knee injury derailed her start of the season, no one has been better than Halep on the clay this year. She successfully defended her title at the Mutua Madrid Open and backed that up with a final run in Rome. In all, the Romanian star has tallied a tour-leading 12 wins on clay, including a 10-match win streak from Madrid to Rome. A 2014 runner-up in Singapore, Halep has done well to put herself in position to qualify for a fourth consecutive year.
Sitting behind Pliskova at No.3 on the PRTS is Britain's Johanna Konta, who is looking to become the first British woman to qualify for the year-end finals since Virginia Wade in 1980. Last season, Konta just narrowly missed out on qualifying for her debut WTA Finals, getting edged out by an incredible last minute push by Svetlana Kuznetsova, who currently sits at No.8 in the PRTS.
Konta's rise to the Top 10 over the last two years has been one of the most phenomenal stories in women's tennis. The 25-year-old has gone from being ranked outside the Top 100 in the summer of 2015 to a consistent threat this season, where she won the biggest title of her career at the Miami Open, beating Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki en route.
Speaking of Williams and Wozniacki, the two tour veterans are very much in the mix to get back to the WTA Finals after a multiple-year absence. Williams, in particular, is enjoying an inspired season after making her first major final since 2009 at the Australian Open in January. The 36-year-old American sits at No.6 on the PRTS and is aiming to make her first WTA Finals since 2009, where she lost to her sister in the final.
Former No.1 Wozniacki has continued the strong form that saw her turn her 2016 season around to finish inside the Top 20. The Dane, who sits at No.4 on the PRTS, advanced to three finals during the hard court season in Doha, Dubai, and Miami, and should be a threat once again when the tour returns to the concrete this summer.
The Porsche Race to Singapore will continue to heat up as the tour finishes its run on clay and heads to the grass season, where the tour is set to welcome back Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, and Maria Sharapova back into the competitive fold. There are more twists and turns coming as the players jockey for position en route to Singapore, but much like last year, this exciting race looks like it could come down to the wire.
For more information, visit WTAFinals.com.