2022 WTA Finals Tournament Preview
What are the WTA Finals? The WTA Finals are the season-ending event for the world’s highest-ranked female tennis players. The top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams will face off in what is the toughest tournament to qualify into of the year.
When is it taking place? From Oct. 31-Nov. 7.
Where are they playing? In Fort Worth, Texas.
Who’s competing this year? The singles field:
And the doubles teams:
Who won it last year? Garbiñe Muguruza in singles and Barbora Krejčíková/Kateřina Siniaková in doubles.
Following our introduction to the Openskill Ratings, we have looked at the Skill ratings for all of the players who qualified for this year’s tournament. The advantage of this rating, as opposed to the typical world rankings, is that it gives the same importance to every match (regardless of whether it is a Grand Slam or a lower-tier WTA tournament). The ratings also reward performances within the context of the player strengths at the time of the match in question, with players earning more recognition for winning more difficult matches.
In our analysis, each player starts the 2022 season with a “default” Skill rating of zero. As the players compete in tournaments, their Skill rating updates based on whether they won or lost a match while also accounting for their opponent’s Skill rating at the time. You can find more technical details about how the Skill Ratings work in our explainer article, in the section called “The Technical Details”.
The following graphic shows this season’s week-by-week evolution of the current eight best-ranked tennis players in the world who qualified for the WTA Finals. We’ll show the same for doubles in the doubles overview.
Can Swiatek cap off her stellar season with a first WTA Finals title?
To no surprise, world No. 1 Iga Swiatek is the player with the highest Skill rating in singles throughout most of the season. Her rating peaked in June after winning 37 consecutive matches. Since then, her rating dropped throughout the summer after a few losses. She recovered and she seems to be back in shape after winning the US Open in September and the San Diego Open earlier this month, both tournaments on hard court.
Can Pegula build on the momentum of her recent title and win the WTA Finals?
World No. 3 Jessica Pegula is also the player who currently has the third-highest Skill rating, behind only Swiatek and Ons Jabeur. The top-ranked American has had a solid year, marked by her first title of the season in Guadalajara just last week which led to a significant increase in her Skill rating this month.
Can Garcia continue her incredible season and close it on a high note?
Caroline Garcia of France, currently ranked No. 6 in the world but No. 5 in our Skill ratings, had a slow start to her season (as shown in the graph). She was able to turn things around this summer, winning three titles since June and getting to the US Open semifinals in September.
Can Sakkari let go of a stagnant year and win her first title of the season?
Maria Sakkari had an incredible start to the season, getting to the finals of Saint Petersburg and Indian Wells but was marked by a stagnant rest of the year. She was defeated by Jessica Pegula in the final of the 2022 Guadalajara Open Akron just last week, which was enough to earn her qualification to the WTA Finals. Despite being ranked No. 5 in the world, she is the player with the lowest Skill rating out of all the singles contenders.
Can Krejčíková and Siniaková win back-to-back WTA Finals titles?
Despite only playing seven tournaments as a pair this season, last year’s WTA Finals winners, Krejčíková and Siniaková, know how to win when it matters the most. The pair has won three Grand Slams this season (Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open) which sees them rank atop both the world ranking and our Skill ratings.
Can Gauff and Pegula bring the title home?
Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula have had a tremendous year in both singles and doubles tournaments, qualifying in the WTA Finals for both events and recently winning their third title of the year as a duo in San Diego. The all-American pair ranks No. 3 in the world and No. 4 in our Skill ratings behind Krejčíková/Siniaková, Kichenok/Ostapenko and Dabrowski/Olmos.
Can Kichenok and Ostapenko end the season with the greatest number of wins as a doubles pair?
Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko have had a great second half of the season, especially on grass courts, and have recorded the most wins (33) out of their WTA Finals competitors so far this season. The pair is currently ranked No. 2 in our skill ratings and No. 5 in the world rankings.
Who has the highest skill and potential?
Below are the latest available Skill ratings for the WTA Finals players as well as their Potential ratings accounting for matches across all surfaces (clay, grass and hard court).
Unsurprisingly Swiatek’s potential is much greater than the rest of the field, with her current Skill rating even exceeding most players’ Potential rating, illustrating just how dominant she has been throughout this season. Jabeur and Pegula follow her in the rankings with very similar Skill and Potential ratings. Bottom of the ratings is Sakkari, who currently has the lowest Skill and Potential ratings out of the eight players at the tournament.
In doubles, Krejčíková/Siniaková is currently the strongest pairing. Despite having the fourth-highest Skill rating, the pair Gauff/Pegula has the second-highest Potential, indicating their ability to be at that level but maybe not on a consistent basis. The pairs Danilina/Haddad Maia, Xu/Yang and Krawczyk/Schuurs have very similar Skill ratings but Danilina/Haddad Maia having a higher Potential than the other two doubles pairs.
What if we looked at our surface-specific ratings?
An advantage of our rating system is that it allows us to calculate the current Skill and Potential ratings for a particular surface. Since the WTA Finals will be played on hard court, we looked at the ratings of that surface to see if any player or team is better on hard court compared to the overall ratings.
Pegula and Gauff, both in singles and doubles, have better ratings comparatively on hard court, with the second and third-best Skill ratings in singles and second-best in doubles. Despite having a very similar Skill rating to Dabrowski/Olmos and Danilina/Haddad Maia, Gauff/Pegula have a much greater Potential rating which makes them bigger favorites to win the title.
At the other end of the ratings, Kichenok/Ostapenko rank second lowest out of the eight pairs on hard court despite ranking second best over all surfaces. Analyzing the quality of players specific to the surface of upcoming tournaments gives us greater insight to how they might perform.
Who are our favorites to win the 2022 WTA Finals?
Swiatek in singles and Krejčíková/Siniaková in doubles.
Who are close contenders?
Pegula, Jabeur and Gauff in singles and Dabrowski/Olmos and Gauff/Pegula in doubles.
Who are the underdogs?
Kasatkina in singles and Krawcyk/Schuurs in doubles.
How do Skill ratings give us more information than the world rankings?
The player’s Skill ratings allow us to compare the differences in the players’ skills at any moment in time and on any given surface throughout the season, permitting us to be even more granular in our analysis of players. They also allow us to compare performances by giving the same importance to every match and tournament played as opposed to our typical world rankings that give more importance and points to Grand Slams. Our ratings also reward players according to the relative difficulty of winning each match by comparing the strengths of each player.
The ratings highlight both Gauff and Pegula as high-performing players on hard court that the world rankings may be undervaluing. In addition, they are both playing at home which makes them big picks to take the title. Some insights are clear regardless of methodology. Swiatek has a 19-1 record in 2022 against this year’s WTA Finals participants. Her only loss was this summer against Garcia in her home country. Can the rest of the field disrupt her dominant season?
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