First qualifiers announced for WTA 2021 finals
SAINT-PÉTERSBOURG, Florida. – The WTA announced on Monday that defending champion Ashleigh Barty, WTA world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka and this year’s Roland Garros winner Barbora Krejcikova are the first singles players to qualify for the WTA 2021 final, which is will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico.
They will be joined in the prestigious year-end final by Katerina Siniakova, who qualifies in doubles with her partner Krejcikova, as well as the all-Japanese duo of Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, who will make their debut in the WTA final.
Guadalajara is hosting the season-ending tournament for this year alone, with the event returning to its home in Shenzhen, China from 2022 to 2030.
Ashleigh Barty, who occupies pole position in the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals, qualifies for the year-end final as the defending champion. She won the Billie Jean King Trophy of the 2019 WTA Finals at the first edition of the event in Shenzhen, China. The Australian competed in doubles in the WTA final in 2017 alongside Casey Dellacqua and reached the semi-finals in 2018 with CoCo Vandeweghe.
“Raising the Billie Jean King Trophy in Shenzhen in 2019 is one of the best moments of my career,” Barty said. “It is a great honor to be among the top 8 players in the world and to be the first to qualify for the WTA 2021 Finals.”
The WTA World No.1 have won five top titles across all three surfaces this season, including the Yarra Valley Classic (Melbourne), defending their title at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart ), winning his second Grand Slam Trophy at the Championships, Wimbledon and the Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati).
World No. 2 in the WTA Aryna sabalenka will make her singles debut at the year-end competition, where she competed in doubles in 2019 with Elise Mertens. She becomes the first Belarusian player to qualify for the WTA singles finals since Victoria Azarenka, a finalist in 2011 and last qualified in 2013.
Sabalenka has won two titles in three finals this season, including the opening match of the WTA Abu Dhabi Women’s Tennis Open and the Madrid Mutua Open. She also finished second at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart), in addition to making her Grand Slam breakthrough reaching the last four at Wimbledon and the US Open, achieving a career ranking of No. 2 on the 23rd. August 2021.
Already established doubles presence at WTA Finals, Czech Republic Barbora Krejcikova earned her first singles qualification this year, and in 2021, she will be the first player to play in both singles and doubles since Karolina Pliskova in 2016.
Krejcikova made waves early in the season when she reached her first singles final since Nürnberg in 2017 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. A few months later, she went on a 12-game winning streak to win her first WTA singles title at the Strasbourg Open before a fairytale race to the Roland Garros trophy, where she also won the doubles title. In her next event, she reached the last 16 at Wimbledon before winning a home title at the Livesport Prague Open. After her triumphant run in Paris, she made her Top 20 debut at No.15 and landed the Top 10 on August 9, 2021. Most recently, she reached the quarter-finals at the Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati) and the US Open.
The Czech duo of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova will compete in their third consecutive WTA final together, with the pair’s best result with a second place finish in 2018, when they fell to Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. They also secured a 2019 qualifying spot at the first leg of the Shiseido WTA Shenzhen Finals in Shenzhen, China. They will seek to become the first 100% Czech duo to win the Martina Navratilova Trophy of the WTA Final, and the first overall since Andrea Hlavackova’s 2017 title race with Timea Babos.
The former WTA doubles world No.1, who first toured together in Nuremberg in 2014, has won three doubles titles this season at the Gippsland Trophy (Melbourne), Mutua Madrid Open and Roland Garros – their third doubles Grand Slam title as after Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2018. The Czech pair also reached the league match at the Australian Open this season and won gold medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020.
from Japan Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara earned their first career WTA Finals qualification, becoming the first Japanese players to qualify for doubles since Ai Sugiyama in 2008, when she reached the semi-finals alongside Katarina Srebotnik.
Aoyama and Shibahara have won five WTA doubles titles this season, starting with back-to-back triumphs at the WTA Abu Dhabi Women’s Tennis Open and Yarra Valley Classic (Melbourne). They won the biggest title of their career at the Miami Open presented by Itaú in April before winning two more titles at Viking International Eastbourne and Tennis in the Land (Cleveland). At the Grand Slam this year, they posted their best results at Wimbledon reaching the semi-finals and the Australian Open with a quarter-final appearance.
The 2021 WTA Finals feature the top 8 singles players and doubles teams from the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals – which includes 51 WTA tournaments and four Grand Slam tournaments. They will compete in a round robin format, where the singles champion will receive the Billie Jean King Trophy. The doubles champions will win the Martina Navratilova Trophy of the WTA Finals.
The winner of the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals – the player who finishes in pole position ahead of the WTA Finals – will not only seal a place in the showpiece of the season, but will also be congratulated with a new Porsche. The Porsche Race to the WTA Finals ranking is updated every Monday and can be found here.
The last Porsche race in the WTA Finals standings: