WTA Finals 2021 predictions & betting tips

Hannah Wilks:

The WTA Finals will be held in Shenzhen for the second time, with the best eight players in the 2021 season set to feature. The tournament is live from 31 October-1 November 2021.

WTA Finals 2021 Predictions


The WTA Finals was cancelled in 2020 due to the global health crisis – the first year since the tournament’s inception in 1972 that it has not been held.

The season-ending championship returns to Shenzhen in 2021 from 31 October-7 November, with the top eight players on the Race to Shenzhen qualifying to form the elite field.

The WTA Finals is hugely significant on the tour, offering as much as 1,500 points, more than any other WTA tournament, and second only to the Grand Slams. The eight players are divided into two groups of four, with the top two advancing to the semi-finals.

Martina Navratilova with eight titles is the most successful player in the tournament’s history, while Serena Williams and Steffi Graff are joint second with five titles.

Qualification for the WTA Finals will depend on results throughout the 2021 season, but we can look ahead to some players who have a great chance of not just qualifying for the season-ending championships, but winning them too.

Can Ashleigh Barty defend her title?

No player has successfully defended the WTA Finals since Serena Williams claimed a hat-trick of titles between 2012 and 2014. In fact, the Finals has been so open in recent seasons that there have been first time champions in each of the last five seasons.

Barty capped a brilliant breakthrough season which saw her win the French Open, Miami and Birmingham and rise to world no. 1 for the first time by claiming the WTA Finals Shenzhen title in 2019. The Australian won three-set duels with Belinda Bencic and Karolina Pliskova and defeated Petra Kvitova and, in the final, Elina Svitolina in straight sets to become the first champion from her country since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

Barty made a very bright start to 2020 when she won her first title on home soil in Adelaide and reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, but her semifinal run in Doha marked her last activity for the season. Although she retained the world no. 1 ranking, Barty will have many points to defend in 2021 and be under much pressure. Will she be revitalised by her break from the game, or will the rust prove too much to overcome swiftly?

Can Simona Halep finally win her maiden WTA Finals title?

Simona Halep contested the championship match in her debut appearance at the WTA Finals in 2014 (lost to Serena Williams), but she is yet to go past the round robin phase in four attempts since then (2015-2017; 2019). She missed the 2018 edition due to a back injury. One would have thought that the slow hard courts of Singapore and Shenzhen would benefit her counterpunching style, but the Romanian hasn’t been able to make an impact in the tournament since that runner-up finish in 2014.

Simona Halep (PA Sport)

 

Perhaps a reason for that is fatigue at the end of the season – the supremely consistent Romanian has played at least 60 tour-level matches in six of the last seven seasons (not counting the truncated 2020) and has finished inside the top five in each of the last six years. Despite her struggles at the season-ending Finals, she was year-end No. 1 in 2017 and 2018.

Halep went 23-3 in 2020, winning Rome, Prague and Dubai and reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open; there’s no reason to expect anything less from her in 2021 than to qualify for the WTA Finals for the seventh time. If she can stay fit and remain fresh, she has obviously got the ability to go really deep and possibly claim her maiden title at the tournament.

Serena Williams?

There are no guarantees that Serena Williams will qualify for the WTA Finals, let alone participate at the tournament, but if there’s any chance that Serena will play in any WTA draw, then she’s got to be somewhere amongst the title favourites.

Serena Williams (PA Sport)

 

The legendary American has not featured at the season finale since claiming her fifth title at the event in 2014. Even should she qualify in 2021, she would be unlikely to play.

Svitolina to continue fine Finals form?

Elina Svitolina reached back-to-back WTA Finals finals in 2018-19, winning in 2018 and losing to Barty in 2019 – can the Ukrainian make it a hat-trick of finals in 2021? Svitolina clearly enjoys the conditions in Shenzhen and if she manages to get through again, she will again be amongst the title favourites.

Elina Svitolina (PA Sport)

 

Following her title run in 2018, she went a very long time before adding another trophy to her WTA collection, but she ended that lengthy drought in February, when she won the Monterrey title. A semifinalist at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2019, Svitolina’s biggest achievements in 2020 were winning International titles in Monterrey and Strasbourg, but she was not the only victim of a truncated season, and she should be expected to qualify for the WTA Finals for a fourth time in 2021.

Another first time champion?

As mentioned earlier, the last five years have produced five first time champions, and there are a host of candidates looking to keep that trend going in 2021.

Top of the list is Sofia Kenin. The American stepped in as an alternate at the WTA Finals in 2019, but had the 2020 tournament taken place, there’s no doubt that she would have been among the field after winning her maiden Grand Slam at the Australian Open. Lest anyone should have thought that was a fluke, she won a title in Lyon and went on to reach the final of the French Open.

Sofia Kenin (PA Sport)

 

The counterpunching Kenin should have the same sort of success in Shenzhen’s conditions that has been enjoyed by Svitolina, and she’s a tenacious, adaptable, feisty competitor.

Garbine Muguruza could be a contender to make a comeback to the WTA Finals in 2021, after a resurgent beginning to the 2020 season saw her reach the final of the Australian Open. Muguruza is looking to qualify for the season-ending Finals for the fourth time and the first time since 2017.

Karolina Pliskova has made the semi-finals in each of the last three years-  is this the season when she finally goes all the way. Petra Kvitova is a former champion, and Kiki Bertens has played the WTA Finals before. A fit Naomi Osaka, now a three-time Grand Slam champion, badly wants to make her impact on this tournament.

As has been the case for some seasons now, it’s an extremely open WTA field, and anyone who eventually gets in will feel she is in with a shot of winning the title.

WTA Finals 2021 tournament information

Name: Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen

Location: Shenzhen, China

Venue: Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre

Category: WTA Finals

Surface: Indoor Hard Courts

Draw size: 8 Singles/ 8 Doubles

Most titles:
Martina Navratilova (8)

Reigning champions:
Singles – Ashleigh Barty
Doubles – Kristina Mladenovic/Timea Babos

WTA Finals player performance

PlayerTitlesFinalsAppearancesWin-loss record2019 result
Serena Williams5 (2001, 2009, 2012-14)2 (2002, 2004)929-6Did not play
Petra Kvitova1 (2011)1 (2015)710-14RR
Elina Svitolina1 (2018)1 (2019)310-3Runner-up (lost to Barty)
Ashleigh Barty1 (2019)14-1Champion (d. Svitolina)
Sloane Stephens1 (2018)14-1Did not qualify
Angelique Kerber1 (2016)57-10Did not qualify
Simona Halep1 (2014)57-10RR
Karolina Pliskova47-8SF