Tennis: WTA Finals debutantes ready and raring to go

Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia attends a press conference prior to the WTA Finals at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on Oct 22, 2016.
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia attends a press conference prior to the WTA Finals at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on Oct 22, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
Madison Keys of the USA speaks during the WTA All Access Hour pre-tournament press conference at Marina Bay Sands on Oct 22, 2016.
Madison Keys of the USA speaks during the WTA All Access Hour pre-tournament press conference at Marina Bay Sands on Oct 22, 2016. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic speaks during the WTA All Access Hour pre-tournament press conference at Marina Bay Sands on Oct 22, 2016.
Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic speaks during the WTA All Access Hour pre-tournament press conference at Marina Bay Sands on Oct 22, 2016.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - This might be unchartered territory for Dominika Cibulkova, Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova but the trio of BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore debutantes are raring to go when the tournament begins on Sunday (Oct 23).

The first-timers are under no illusion though about the quality of opposition at the US$7 million (S$9.76 million) competition presented by SC Global and are expecting a tough baptism of fire.

World No. 7 Madison Keys will open this year's WTA Finals against fourth-ranked Simona Halep, and the American is looking forward to the clash at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Speaking at a press conference at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre on Saturday, Keys, who is the youngest in the field at 21, said: "I just played (Halep) in Wuhan, I think she played really well there, but I think a big part was that I got really passive and I got behind the baseline and let her start dictating.

"That's going to be something I'm going to have to step up, and go for my shots in the smartest way I can, and really just believe that I can do it."

Keys holds a losing head-to-head record against Halep (1-4), with the latter winning their last match 6-4, 6-2 at the quarterfinals of last month's Wuhan Open.

Both women are in the Red Group, together with world No. 1 Angelique Kerber and No. 8 Cibulkova.

Czech Republic's Pliskova was drawn in the White Group with defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska, French Open winner Garbine Muguruza and world No. 9 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The Russian had booked her spot in the Republic after capturing the Kremlim Cup on Saturday night with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Daria Gavrilova in the final.

Pliskova, ranked fifth in the world, reached US Open final last month. She is refreshed and ready to play her best at the Oct 23-30 WTA Finals.

Admitting she was "a little it tired" during the Asian swing following her US Open run, the 24-year-old added: "When I came back from the United States I didn't have much time to practise and rest and prepare for the tournaments as I did for the ones in States.

"Now I just took few days off - I skipped the tournaments in Linz and Moscow, so I prepared for these last few weeks of tennis.

"There is FedCup for me after (the WTA Finals), and now I feel ready to play my best tennis."