WTA Tour Finals 2021 preview: everything you need to know

The WTA’s crown-jewel event returns for the first time since 2019 with some of the biggest names in women’s tennis set to feature in Guadalajara, Mexico. Find the schedule, players to watch and more, right here.

By Chloe Merrell
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

After a sensational year of women’s tennis, the 2021 WTA Finals are back.

The season-ending championships, which feature the top eight singles players and doubles teams from 2021, will take place from November 10 to November 17 at the Panamerican Tennis Center in Guadalajara.

Mexico will host the tournament sometimes dubbed the ‘Fifth Slam’ in a one-time only event after travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic meant the competition could not take place in its usual home of Shenzhen in China.

As we head for the final showdown here are the top things you need to know.

Anett Kontaveit
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

WTA Tour Finals 2021: players to watch

Though WTA Finals defending singles champion Ash Barty has decided to sit out the event, lots of stars will be in action in Guadalajara.

Players who qualified in the Top 8 for the WTA Finals 2021

The following eight players will compete in the singles side of the competition:

  1. Aryna Sabalenka
  2. Karolina Pliskova
  3. Barbora Krejcikova
  4. Iga Swiatek
  5. Maria Sakkari
  6. Garbine Muguruza
  7. Paula Badosa
  8. Anett Kontaveit

Doubles teams that have qualified in the Top 8 for the WTA Finals 2021

The following eight teams are set to battle in the end-of-year doubles tournament:

  1. Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova
  2. Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara
  3. Hseih Su-Wei and Elise Mertens
  4. Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Demi Schuurs
  5. Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai
  6. Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk
  7. Darija Jurak and Andrej Klepac
  8. Sharon Fichman and Giuliana Olmos

Coco Gauff and Caty McNally, as well as Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani all qualified for the Finals. However, they have decided not to participate, which allowed for Fichman and Olmos to step in and compete.

Storylines at WTA Tour Finals 2021

Whatever way the WTA Finals unfold it is for certain that in the singles competition there will be a new champion.

World number one Barty made the decision in late October not to defend her WTA Finals crown in Guadalajara.

After returning to her native Australia following the US Open, the 2021 Wimbledon winner said she was unwilling to compromise on her preparations for the Australian Open with her country's ongoing quarantine requirements.

Who then is primed to take her crown?

It is certainly hard to ignore the hottest player on tour right now: Anett Kontaveit.

The Estonian stunned everyone when she snatched the final top-eight place from the hands of Ons Jabeur after she defeated home favourite Simona Halep at the Transylvania Open (October 31). Her victory at Cluj-Napoca capped a remarkable end-of-season run that has seen her win 26 of her last 28 matches.

Somewhat ironically the 25-year-old’s blistering form was triggered by a five-match losing streak with her last defeat handed to her by Jabeur in the first round of the Cincinnati Masters.

As the only player to feature in the singles and doubles competition Barbora Krejcikova is also another star to keep an eye on.

The Czech started 2021 ranked 65 but after clinching her maiden Grand Slam at Roland Garros, and then weeks later striking gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the women’s doubles event, the 25-year-old is coming to Mexico hot.

Her 2021 win-loss record is sitting at a favourable 45-14.

With no defending duo either in the doubles event the door is as equally open for a new pair of WTA Finals champions, and several competitors from 2019 will be back seeking vengeance.

2019 runner-up Hseih Su-Wei will be hoping for more luck in this year’s edition with new partner Elise Mertens (who got only as far as the round robin stage last time). The Belgian is currently ranked number one in the world for women's doubles.

Five-time Olympian Samantha Stosur and Chinese number one Zhang Shuai will also be on the hunt for redemption after the duo got as far as the semi-finals last time. Their consecutive appearance as a team was helped by a late surge that saw them take the 2021 US Open women’s doubles crown.

WTA Tour Finals 2021: Schedule & Format

Format

Both the singles and doubles competition will feature eight players and teams in a round robin event.

Eight are halved into two groups of four and every player/team will compete against the three others in their group.

The top two from each group will then advance to the semi-finals. The top placed player/team from the first group will play the runner-up from the second and vice versa.

The winners of each semi-final will then meet in the championship final.

Those in the singles event will be vying to lift the WTA Finals Billie Jean King Trophy. Meanwhile in the doubles, the WTA Finals Martina Navratilova Trophy will be the silverware up for grabs.

Schedule

The WTA Finals will feature two sessions a day with one during the day and another scheduled for night. The round robin matches will conclude on November 15. The semi-finals are penned for November 16 and the championship matches November 17.

Wednesday November 10

  • Day Session 14:00 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin
  • Night Session 19:00 - opening ceremony followed by singles round robin and doubles round robin

Thursday November 11

  • Day Session 14:00 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin
  • Night Session 19:30 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin

Friday November 12

  • Day Session 14:00 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin
  • Night Session 19:30 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin

Saturday November 13

  • Day Session 14:00 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin
  • Night Session 19:30 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin

Sunday November 14

  • Day Session 14:00 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin
  • Night Session 19:30 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin

Monday November 15

  • Day Session 14:00 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin
  • Night Session 19:30 - singles round robin followed by doubles round robin

Tuesday November 16

  • Day Session 14:00 - singles semi-final followed by doubles semi-final
  • Night Session 19:30 - singles semi-final followed by doubles semi-final

Wednesday November 17

  • Day Session 17:00 - doubles final followed by awards ceremony
  • Night Session 19:30 - singles final followed by awards ceremony

Schedule listed in local time.

Paula Badosa in action at Indian Wells 2021
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

How to watch WTA Tour Finals 2021

The WTA Tour Finals will be broadcast across major platforms worldwide.

For a full list of countries and where the WTA Finals will be broadcast click here.

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