ST PETERSBURG (Florida) • Two-time Major champion Petra Kvitova is relishing a second opportunity to show Singapore tennis fans what she can do.
The Czech yesterday qualified for the prestigious WTA Finals, joining world No. 2 Simona Halep, world No. 3 Maria Sharapova and world No. 4 Garbine Muguruza in the elite singles field of eight.
Kvitova joins Sharapova as the only former champions of the season-ender, having won the title in her debut appearance in 2011 with a perfect 5-0 record.
I have been through some tough moments this season so I'm extra proud of myself for qualifying again and making it back to Singapore.
The two-time Wimbledon champion also reached the semi-finals in 2013, falling to Li Na.
But she won just one match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last year - against Sharapova, and failed to get out of the group stage.
The world No. 5 is determined to put on a show this time, despite suffering from exhaustion this season.
"I am so excited to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore for the fifth straight year," said Kvitova. "I have been through some tough moments this season so I'm extra proud of myself for qualifying again and making it back to Singapore. Playing as one of the top eight is a big goal for me each year so I can't wait to be back there, fighting hard and hopefully playing some great tennis in front of the Singaporean fans."
Four more singles spots for the Oct 23-Nov 1 showpiece tournament are yet to be determined.
Czech Karolina Pliskova - currently 12th in the Road to Singapore leader board - remains in the hunt for one of those berths. She defeated Pole Magda Linette 6-2, 6-1 at the Tianjin Open yesterday.
With seventh seed Alison Riske joining top seed and US Open winner Flavia Pennetta, Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina and home favourite Zheng Saisai, seeded eight, as early casualties, Pliskova could yet make a deep run.
Meanwhile, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams is still fighting for a WTA Finals spot at the Hong Kong Open.
Williams, 35, is 11th in the Road to Singapore leader board, and will play China's Wang Yafan in the second round today.
World No. 9 Angelique Kerber - fifth in the race to Singapore - will take on Japan's Kurumi Nara in her second-round match today.
French Open finalist Lucie Safarova (seventh) endured a setback when she was dumped out of the first round of the Linz Open by Romanian Andreea Mitu on Tuesday.
But the Czech, who has already qualified for the eight-team doubles field in Singapore, was immediately on a plane to Moscow in a bid to get into the singles field as well.
"I've never played the WTA Finals. It's my first time qualifying in doubles... but to reach it in singles would be another level," said the world No. 7, who missed the Asian swing after being hospitalised in the Czech Republic with an unspecified infectious disease.
"I would have played in Linz and Moscow even if it wouldn't be possible to qualify, because I really wanted to start playing again, but this gives it another spice.
"And I'll try my best to get there."