Russian number one ready for ‘big fight’
Daria Kasatkina has said she is braced for a “tough” challenge as the Russian women’s tennis number one learned her opponents for the group stage of the season-ending WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
Kasatkina, 25, is among the eight players to have secured a spot in the singles event of the prestigious tournament, which runs from October 31 to November 7 and will see a total $5 million in prize money on offer.
The draw was made on Friday for the round-robin stage of the event, and placed number eight seed Kasatkina in a group alongside Polish world number one Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff of the US, and France’s Caroline Garcia.
The quartet will face each other in the ‘Tracy Austin’ group, named after the American former two-time Grand Slam winner.
In the ‘Nancy Richter’ group – named in honor of another US women’s tennis great – second seed Ons Jabeur leads a quartet which includes Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, Greek player Maria Sakkari, and Jessica Pegula of the US.
The format of the hard-court event at Dickies Arena will see each player face off against the other participants in their group across the first six days of competition, before the top two players in each group progress to the semifinal stage.
Kasatkina is making a maiden appearance in the WTA Finals, and secured her spot on the back of a solid season in which she reached a maiden Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open back in June, while winning WTA Tour titles in San Jose and Granby.
The Tolyatti-born player opens her campaign in Texas in the toughest possible fashion against Polish rival Swiatek, in a meeting scheduled for November 3.
The 21-year-old Swiatek is way out in front of the WTA ratings as world number one, and claimed the French and US Open titles this season.
“Obviously all the groups are very tough,” Kasatkina was quoted as saying by WTA Insider following the draw.
“I knew that whoever you get here is going to be a big fight and if you want to win you have to give your best. It’s going to be fun.”
Russia also has representation in the doubles event in Texas, where Veronika Kudermetova will play alongside Belgian partner Elise Mertens.
The pair are seeded fourth and have been drawn in the ‘Pam Shriver’ group, where they are scheduled to open their campaign on Tuesday against Liudmila Kichenok of Ukraine and Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, who are seeded fifth.
Kudermetova, 25, narrowly missed out on a spot in both events in Texas.
The Kazan-born player lost a vital match against Maria Sakkari at the Guadalajara Open in Mexico last week, which sent the Greek into the WTA Finals singles competition at the expense of her Russian rival.
Nonetheless, Kudermetova has been rewarded for a solid season by breaking into the top ten of the WTA singles ratings this week, where she is at the number nine spot – one place behind Kasatkina.