WTA Finals 2023: What to Know
As the 2023 WTA season draws to a close, all eyes turn to one of the most prestigious tournaments on the calendar, the WTA Finals. This year’s edition is taking place in Cancún, Mexico beginning on Sunday, October 29 and crowning its winner on Sunday, November 5.
This tournament is like no other on the WTA Tour, as only the top eight singles players and top eight doubles partnerships compete in this event: qualifying by finishing high on the Race to the WTA Finals leaderboard. This is done by earning points from tournaments, earning titles, and other events throughout the season.
Another thing that sets this tournament apart from any other is the format in which it is set up. The eight players and teams are drawn into equally split groups of four. In each group, a round-robin format is played, meaning every player will play the others in their group, and the top two in each group will qualify for the semi-finals based on their win-to-loss ratio.
Each match played is worth 125 ranking points, followed by an additional 125 points per round-robin victory, 330 for a semi-final victory, and 420 for winning the title.
The total prize pool for the Finals is $9M. Singles players will earn a $198,000 fee for participating, plus $198,000 per round-robin win. Advancing to the semi-final earns an additional $54,000 and the winning players of each semi-final earn another $756,000. The winner of the tournament also earns another lump sum of $1,476,000.
In the doubles, they earn a $90,000 participation fee, plus $36,000 per each round-robin win. Advancing to the semi-final earns an additional $9,000 and the winning duo of each semi-final earns another $144,000. The winners of the tournament earn another lump sum of $306,000.
The singles groups this year are called the Bacalar group and the Chetumal group, named after locations in Mexico.
The top two seeds, world number one Aryna Sabalenka and world number two Iga Świątek headline the groups respectively. Originally, Karolína Muchová had qualified for her maiden WTA Finals but had to withdraw due to a wrist injury, thus Maria Sakkari assumed the eighth spot. The groups were drawn as the following:
· (1) Aryna Sabalenka; 53 wins, 12 losses and three titles
· (4) Elena Rybakina; 46 wins, 13 losses and two titles
· (5) Jessica Pegula; 50 wins, 17 losses and one title
· (8) Maria Sakkari; 38 wins, 22 losses and one title
· (2) Iga Świątek; 63 wins, 11 losses and five titles
· (3) Coco Gauff; 49 wins, 14 losses and four titles
· (6) Ons Jabeur; 35 wins, 15 losses and two titles
· (7) Markéta Vondroušová; 40 wins, 14 losses and one title
Amongst all of this, there is also more than a trophy on the line for Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Świątek... the year-end number-one ranking.
Coming into Cancún, world number one Sabalenka has 8,425 points compared to world number two Świątek's 7,795 points. Excluding Grand Slams, the WTA Finals offers the most points out of any other tournament.
With only 630 points between them in a tournament that could offer up to 1,500 points for the undefeated winner; Świątek could potentially reclaim the world number one spot. There are a few scenarios that may take place, but if Świątek wants to retain the year-end world number one title she needs to AT MINIMUM win the title or get to the final with a 3-0 round-robin record.
The scenarios are as follows:
If Świątek loses a round-robin match, Sabalenka can secure No. 1 by reaching the final or having a 3-0 round-robin record.
If Świątek loses two round-robin matches, Sabalenka can secure No. 1 with a 2-1 round-robin record.
Ultimately, in order to become No. 1, Świątek must make the final if she wants to reclaim the year-end world number one spot.
If Sabalenka ends the round-robin 0-3, Świątek would need to win the title or reach the final with a 3-0 round-robin record.
If Sabalenka ends the round-robin 1-2, Świątek would need to win the title.
If Sabalenka ends the round-robin 2-1, Świątek would need to win the title with a minimum of two round-robin wins.
If Sabalenka ends the round-robin 3-0, Świątek would need to win the title and go undefeated in the round-robin; matching Sabalenka's 3-0 round-robin record.
Therefore, it is very possible that if both reach the final, it could end up being the decider of who will finish the 2023 season as world number one.
In the doubles, the groups are called the Mahahual group and the Maya Ka’an group, also named after locations in Mexico.
The top seeds Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula will headline the Mahahual group, and second seeds Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens headline the Maya Ka’an group. The doubles groups are as follows:
· (1) Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula
· (4) Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková
· (6) Vera Zvonareva and Laura Siegemund
· (7) Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe
Maya Ka’an Group:
· (2) Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens
· (3) Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara
· (5) Demi Schuurs and Desirae Krawczyk
· (8) Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez
The winner of each group will play the runner-up of the opposing group in the semi-finals, which will take place on Saturday, November 4.
In this tournament, the turnaround is very quick; there are only two days between the conclusion of the group stages and the finals. From October 29 to November 5, every day there will be two singles matches and two doubles matches beginning with a doubles match at 2:30 p.m. EST followed by two singles matches: the first beginning at 5 p.m. EST.
The doubles final will begin at 4:30 p.m. EST and the singles final will begin at 7 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 5.