USA’s Sloane Stephens has become the sixth women’s tennis player this season to qualify for the 2018 WTA Finals. The 2017 US Open winner made it through for the competition that will be played next week.
Stephens now joins Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova as six of eight women who will contest in this year-ending tournament.
The remaining two spots could go to Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, with Kiki Bertens as an outside chance of making it through to the tournament. The available alternates in case of injury concerns are Aryna Sabalenka, Elise Mertens and Anastasija Sevastova.
Speaking to the media, Stephens said about her qualification:
“I’m honoured to qualify for my first WTA Finals. I’m looking forward to … competing against the best players of the season.”
Having finished runner-up at the French Open to Halep, Stephens’ season hasn’t gone as well as she would have hoped after that US Open triumph last year but this WTA Finals qualification gives her another chance of ending the year on a high.
Since rising to the number three spot on the WTA Rankings, she has faced slight form issues that saw her get knocked out in round one at Wimbledon and quarter-finals at the US Open.
In other news, Halep will end the year as the number one player on the WTA Rankings irrespective of the results from here on. Having played in six WTA finals this year, Halep has won three titles including one at the French Open, and will go into the WTA Finals with a 46-11 win-loss record.
Apart from the French Open, Halep also won the titles at Shenzhen Open and the Rogers Cup this year. She was also a finalist at the Australian Open where she lost to Wozniacki and at the Rome Open and Cincinnati Open.
Halep said of her year-ending number one spot:
“Finishing the season as the WTA World No.1 last year was a huge honour for me. To do it for a second time in 2018 feels like a special achievement, especially having also won my first Grand Slam this year.”
“To be able to see my name again alongside the other legends who have achieved the year-end No.1 ranking makes me very proud.”