Tennis: Muguruza first to book WTA Finals singles berth

Garbine Muguruza of Spain celebrates her third round match win on day five of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept 1, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
Garbine Muguruza of Spain celebrates her third round match win on day five of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept 1, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. PHOTO: AFP

On the day her name was reflected officially in the rankings as the world's No. 1 player, Garbine Muguruza also became the first to earn a singles spot at the Women's Tennis Association's (WTA) prestigious season finale this year.

The Spaniard has qualified for the Oct 22-29 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, where she will eventually be joined by seven other top players to vie for the year-end crown.

It will be the 23-year-old's fourth appearance in as many editions so far in Singapore, having first qualified in the doubles in 2014. A year later, she partnered compatriot Carla Suarez Navarro to a runner-up finish in the doubles, the same year she was a semi-finalist in the singles.

Said the two-time Grand Slam winner: "Every season one of my main goals is to qualify for Singapore, as it is proof that you are one of the best eight players of the year.

"To secure my place so early gives me great satisfaction and motivates me to keep working hard as we enter the latter stages of the season.

"I have great memories of the tournament and the city. It'll be my fourth year in a row there, and I look forward to playing my best tennis."

Besides winning Wimbledon, Muguruza also lifted her second title of the season last month in Cincinnati, where she beat Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep en route to the title.

While her peers will hope to earn qualification when the Asian swing begins this month, a third pair have also confirmed their qualification in the doubles - Australians Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua, who will make their debut here.

The duo have reached six finals so far this season, winning in Kuala Lumpur, Strasbourg and Birmingham. They join newly crowned US Open champions Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-jan, as well as Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who had qualified earlier .

Said WTA chairman and chief executive officer Steve Simon: "Garbine has proved over the last three seasons that she belongs among the elite of women's tennis, and she continues to inspire and excite sports fans around the world."

The US$7 million (S$9.4 million) annual event features the top eight singles players and top eight doubles pairs of the season.

This year's edition is the penultimate round of a five-year deal for Singapore to stage the event.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'Muguruza first to book WTA Finals singles berth'. Print Edition | Subscribe