SINGAPORE (Reuters) – World number one Serena Williams was handed the best possible draw for her WTA Finals title defence with the 33-year-old American grouped with two injury doubts and avoiding the in-form players.
Serena was pooled in the Red Group on Saturday for the WTA’s season ending event alongside Romanian Simona Halep, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard and Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic who have managed only one career victory among them against the 18-times grand slam singles champion.
The more competitive looking White Group features Russian Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
Serena is gunning for her fifth season ending championships win and third straight, having taken the last two titles in Istanbul.
Her participation in this year’s event, which switches to Singapore for the first of five editions, was in doubt after she was forced to pull out of the Beijing tournament earlier this month because of a knee problem.
Serena, though, said she was ready to play.
Bouchard is also a fitness doubt after pulling out of a tournament in Austria 10 days ago because of a leg problem, while Ivanovic, who has a 1-7 win-loss record against Serena, also withdrew from Linz with a hip injury.
Romanian Halep has struggled for form of late and not made it past the quarter-finals of an event since July. The French Open runner-up is 0-3 against the American.
Sharapova, who beat world number three Halep in the final at Roland Garros, has had no such issue with form and was named the WTA’s Player of the Month for September after winning the prestigious Beijing title, her last action before arriving in Singapore.
There she beat Kvitova in the final, with the Czech just missing out on back-to-back titles having won the week before in Wuhan.