Aryna Sabalenka qualifies for the WTA Elite Trophy
Sabalenka with her Wuhan title | Photo: Tao Zhang

Despite struggling to reach the peak of her game in what can be considered a disappointing year, Aryna Sabalenka was still able to qualify for the year-ending WTA Elite Trophy for the second consecutive year. Although she would have preferred to qualify for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, this can be considered a consolation for the Belarusian after what was a tough season.

Her season started with the Shenzhen title as she marched towards a top-10 debut. A bright start to the year hinted that it was Sabalenka’s year to be, after a breakthrough 2018. However, under the limelight and pressure as a top player, the 21-year-old failed to find her best tennis and failed to produce any performances up to standard.

It was a disappointing few months for Sabalenka | Photo: Alex Pantling
It was a disappointing few months for Sabalenka | Photo: Alex Pantling

A run to the final at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic seemed to have helped Sabalenka regain her confidence and momentum, although she still could not prevent herself from falling in the rankings.

However, when things got desperate, Sabalenka stunningly stepped up to the occasion and took charge. She had the burden of defending the Wuhan title and an early exit could mean a huge dip in rankings. Two top-10 wins followed and the Belarusian impressed to defend her title out of nowhere, sending a warning sign to the rest of the field.

Other qualified players include Johanna Konta, Sofia Kenin, Petra Martic and Madison Keys. Players will compete in a three-player Round Robin with the winner of each group progressing to the semifinals. Sabalenka lost in the group stages last year, missing out on a semifinal spot by one solitary game.