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WTA Finals, Day 1 Preview: Krejcikova meets Kontaveit for first time; Pliskova and Muguruza renew rivalry
Guadalajara launches the women's season finale Wednesday with singles matches from Group Teotihuacán.
Published Nov 10, 2021
TC Live Discussion: Who do you roll the dice on at the WTA Finals?
The WTA Finals begins Wednesday in Guadalajara. Our preview of the opening two singles matches on offer:
Barbora Krejcikova vs. Anett Kontaveit, Group Teotihuacán
If ever there was a matchup that requires splitting hairs, it may be our tournament starter. In a first-time encounter, both 25-year-olds are making their singles debuts at the WTA Finals. When winning the first set, each are 39-2 this season. Kontaveit owns 45 match wins in 2021; her opponent across the net trails by just one. Krejcikova is a dazzling 13-2 in deciding sets; the Estonian is on a 26-2 stretch overall—and has only gone three sets in four of those matches (3-1).
Though Kontaveit was required to make an extraordinary push at the end of October to claim the eighth and final seed, Krejcikova isn’t entirely fresh either. The No. 2 seed has exceeded well over 100 matches across singles, doubles and mixed this year, and she suited up for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup last week in Prague.
“I actually didn't play that many tournaments. I've just been playing a lot of matches because I was just doing really well,” Krejcikova said Tuesday. “I didn't expect it at the beginning of the season.”
With an altitude of more than 5000 feet serving up an unusual playing environment, Kontaveit has increased her racquet tension to address the speed of the "fast-ish" conditions.
“Because of the air, it does fly quite a bit,” Kontaveit assessed during media day. “I think it takes a few days to get used to that, just try and control the ball a bit more.”
With this being the opening match of the tournament, one that is anyone’s for the taking, a three-setter only seems appropriate as a table setter.
Karolina Pliskova vs. Garbiñe Muguruza, Group Teotihuacán
The only two players with WTA Finals singles experience are pitted against each other in Wednesday’s night-session clash. Given the landscape, one has to believe former world No. 1s Pliskova and Muguruza see this year's tournament as a golden opportunity to add a significant title to their list of achievements.
Their series is the most widely contested of the round-robin matchups, though it’s been one-way traffic for the most part. Pliskova leads 8-2 and has twice defeated the Spaniard on the WTA Finals stage. She’s served a tour-leading 364 aces this season and that could prove instrumental if the No. 3 seed can exploit Guadalajara’s elevation to her advantage.
“You feel a bit heavier breathing,” she explained. “Help[ed] me just to be here a bit longer before the tournament than normally. I never played in these kind of conditions.”
For Muguruza, her last two trips to Mexico have culminated with hardware. In 2018-19, she triumphed in Monterrey, where the altitude stands at about a third of this week’s host city. The sixth seed is hoping a give-and-take approach with the local crowd will play into her favor this week.
“I feel like this is going to motivate young girls from Spain, from Latin America, that they can relate to and hear us talk, get a more familiar feeling of tennis,” she said when speaking about qualifying alongside countrywoman Paula Badosa. “I feel like this time they can be more close to us.”
Pliskova is motivated to ensure her 2021 doesn’t end without a title. Muguruza is motivated by the platform to showcase world-class tennis in this region of the globe. We’re motivated to see how Muguruza’s claim of getting “the toughest group” of the two plays out. Vamos!