Osaka and Stephens opener in Singapore

Photo: WTA

Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens will mark their WTA Finals debut by playing each other in the opener of the WTA Finals on Monday.

U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka faces a tough test in her debut appearance at the WTA Finals. The Japanese has been drawn in the same group as Angelique Kerber and Sloane Stephens. Alongside them is also Kiki Bertens, who was named as the WTA’s Most Improved Player of the Year. Interestingly enough, Osaka and Stephens played one another before. In the 2016 Acapulco quarterfinals the American won in straight sets.

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki headlines the White Group. Former World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova make up the rest of the group. The initial stage of the year-end event is a round robin competition with two groups. Afterward, the two best players from each group advance to the semifinals.

In addition, World No. 1 Simona Halep pulled out of the Finals earlier this week. The cause for her decision was a herniated disc. Subsequently, this paved the way for Bertens to secure a place in Singapore.