WTA Finals: Barty-Osaka showdown next, Kvitova to face Bencic

World number one Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka will face each other in Group Red, while Petra Kvitova will square off against Belinda Bencic in Shenzen.

The WTA Finals singles contenders   -  Getty Images

World number one Ashleigh Barty has been drawn to face Naomi Osaka in the round-robin stage of the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

French Open champion and top seed Barty will come up against two-time grand slam winners Osaka and Petra Kvitova, along with seventh seed Belinda Bencic in the Red Group.

ALSO READ | Bencic seals WTA Finals place, Serena Williams misses out

Barty was on Friday announced as the winner of the Race to Shenzhen ahead of Karolina Pliskova and hopes to celebrate by being crowned champion in her singles debut at the season-ending tournament in China.

"It was already an honour to qualify for the WTA Finals, but to also finish the Race to Shenzhen on top is an achievement I'm incredibly proud of," the Australian said. 

"This is a special tournament for myself and my team and I’ll be fighting hard to finish the WTA season with the Shenzhen title."

 

Pliskova will take on defending champion Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu in the Purple Group.

US Open champion Andreescu and 22-year-old Swiss Bencic will be making their debuts in the tournament.

Osaka and Kvitova meet in the first match of the event on Sunday.

-Sabalenka downs Mertens to make WTA Elite Trophy semifinals-

Aryna Sabalenka defeated her regular doubles partner Elise Mertens in a fraught WTA Elite Trophy group decider.

With victory for either player enough to guarantee progression to the semi-finals, fourth seed Sabalenka came out on top 6-4 3-6 7-5 to ensure her place at the top of the Rose Group.

The US Open doubles champions have been at the top of their games in the pairs this season and both players took that form into Friday's encounter in Zhuhai.

Following a two-hour and 20-minute slog, Sabalenka clinched victory with a third match point when Mertens sent a backhand return looping into the net after the Belarusian had broken her serve at the culmination of a thrilling rally in the previous game.

Sabalenka will face Karolina Muchova for a place in the final, with the Czech having overcome Sofia Kenin 6-4 4-6 6-3.

 

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