The 2017 WTA Finals would be kicked-off by an incredible match-up between Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams, being the first match of this year’s prestigious tournament. The white group features three former world number ones and three Grand Slam champions, with the Czech belonging to the former group and Williams being part of both groups. After an excellent year for both players, they will look to get a great start to the Championships where the win could prove to be extremely crucial in the round-robin stages.
Pliskova’s results entering Singapore
The Czech owns a disappointing 5-3 win-loss record during the Asian Swing, failing to reach any semifinals in the process. Pliskova first reached the quarterfinals in Tokyo where she fell to a spirited Angelique Kerber in a repeat of the 2016 US Open final, before crashing out to Ashleigh Barty in a high-quality quarterfinal encounter at the Wuhan Open. The former world number one’s last match coming into Singapore was a loss to Sorana Cirstea in the third round of the China Open, where she looked totally out-of-sorts.
Venus’ results entering Singapore
Similar to Pliskova, Williams had a disappointing Asian Swing. Playing with a much lighter schedule, her decision proved to be risky after losing in the second round of the Hong Kong Tennis Open to the dangerous young talent in Naomi Osaka, falling in straight sets. The American skipped the bigger tournaments in Wuhan and Beijing despite being ranked fifth in the world with a decent chance to compete for the number one ranking if she progressed deep in those tournaments.
These two hard-hitters have met twice in the past, with the wins split between both of them. Their first ever meeting came in the final of the WTA Elite Trophy back in 2015 when Venus claimed the win to seal a return to the top-10 for the first time since 2010, defeating Pliskova with a tight 7-5, 7-6 scoreline.
The Czech then exacted revenge over the legendary American at the US Open, breaking the locals’ hearts after she defeated Venus 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 after saving a match point in the process. It proved to be a breakthrough tournament for Pliskova, going on to beat Venus’ sister, Serena, in the semifinals and reaching the first Major final of the career.
The slow courts in Singapore are a major disadvantage to both Pliskova and Williams, who are aggressive players. Both would look to dictate play in the rallies while they also have their respective weapons which could be impactful in deciding the outcome of this match-up.
In fact, Williams is actually the better defender as she has the ability to remain composed while on the defense, and she could produce some incredible winners while being the passive player on the court. However, Pliskova has proven that she could also play decently on the defense but she needs to find a way to get herself out of trouble especially against players who are more powerful than her, with Williams being the perfect example.
The first serve percentage would be extremely crucial as both players desperately need their first serves for more free points. Pliskova’s slice and spin could provide her with much help at critical moments while the speed on Venus’ serve is extraordinary, with her second serves going as fast as 100 mph.
This will be Williams’ first appearance at the WTA Finals since 2009 while Pliskova is just defending round-robin points here. Both players come into this encounter with the experience of performing on the biggest stages of the sport, and pressure should not pose much of a problem to either of them. This match will be played at 5 pm Singapore local time at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, kicking off play for the tournament and the White Group.
Match Prediction: Venus Williams d. Karolina Pliskova in three sets