Zhuhai Elite Trophy: Sloane Stephens, Kristina Mladenovic lead big 12 to points and prizes

Sloane Stephens and Coco Vandeweghe are among the players set to line up in the prestigious Zhuhai Elite Trophy

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis
The line-up for the Zhuhai Elite Trophy Photo: WTA

US Open champion, Sloane Stephens, along with the super-consistent Kristina Mladenovic and two-time Major semi-finalist, Coco Vandeweghe, will headline a dozen of 2017’s best players in the prestigious Zhuhai Elite Trophy, the concluding main event of the WTA calendar.

The Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy is contested between the 11 highest-ranked women after the eight who have qualified for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore, and the field of a dozen is completed by one wildcard. This year, that honour has been extended to home player, China’s Peng Shuai—though she only just missed the cut-off on ranking alone.

The players compete in four round-robin groups of three, with the winners of each group advancing to the semi-finals. Six doubles teams are split into two round-robin groups, with the winner of each advancing to the final.

Not only is this new tournament—which has been played in the glamorous city of Zhuhai on just two previous occasions—rich in prize money, a cool $2.28 million, but offers players a points boost as they head into the off season, and also look towards the first Major of 2018 in Australia.

For example last year’s champion, Petra Kvitova, sealed 700 points and $655,000, while even those who failed to reach the semis picked up $115,000 and 160 points apiece.

Little wonder, then, that only three women ranked between the qualifying nine and 19 are absent—all recovering from injury.

Stephens, Mladenovic and Vandeweghe are joined by two-time Major champion Angelique Kerber, Indian Wells champ Elena Vesnina, and winner of three titles in 2017, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Indeed between them, the dozen women represent 11 WTA singles titles and 13 further finals during 2017.

Tournament Director Jose Miguel Garcia said of the field: “After an amazing season of women’s tennis, all the players that have gained their spot to play in Zhuhai are amongst the best in the world. Great tennis is guaranteed for all the fans coming to Zhuhai and for everyone following from home all over the world.”

Zhuhai Elite Trophy line-up and absentees

This year, the cut off for the elite 11 is an impressive No22 in the rankings, with only Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Madison Keys missing with injury.

Former WTA Finals champions Dominika Cibulkova (2016), Agnieszka Radwanska (2015), and Petra Kvitova (2011) have not made the cut for either Singapore or Zhuhai.

Kvitova won in Zhuhai last year, while Venus Williams won the inaugural Elite Trophy in 2015, but this year the American competes among the top eight in Singapore.

10 Kristina Mladenovic
12 Coco Vandeweghe
13 Sloane Stephens
14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
15 Anastasija Sevastova
17 Elena Vesnina
18 Julia Goerges
19 Angelique Kerber
20 Ashleigh Barty
21 Magdalena Rybarikova
22 Barbora Strycova
12th player (wild card): China’s No1 Peng Shuai

Venue: Hengqin Tennis Centre Zhuhai, which features a 5,000 Centre Court, a 1,500 second show court, four additional match courts, and 12 training courts. Date: 31 October to 5 November

Zhuhai: “The pearl of South China Sea” is located on the coast between Hong Kong and Macau. With a backdrop of hills and a frontage of sea and islands, it has been voted “The Most Liveable City of China” and “Foreigners’ Favourite Chinese City”.

Draws are now set:

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