WTA Moscow: Svetlana Kuznetsova spearheads packed field

Svetlana Kuznetsova, Johanna Konta, and Dominika Cibulkova are the notable players who are entered in the entry list of the Kremlin Cup, the last WTA event of the year for most of the players.

WTA Moscow: Svetlana Kuznetsova spearheads packed field
Svetlana Kuznetsova with her title last year | Photo: Kremlin Cup.

The Premier event held in Moscow, the Kremlin Cup, will be the last event on tour for many players on tour but it is crucial for players who are fighting for a place at the WTA Finals as this is the last possible tournament for them to earn extra points. Hence, the field in Moscow this year is relatively strong, with seven top-20 players participating.

Defending champion returns

World number eight Svetlana Kuznetsova, the highest-ranked Russian and two-time defending champion, will make her fifth consecutive appearance in Moscow. She had an incredible campaign here last year, winning the title which secured her a position at the WTA Finals for the first time since 2009, claiming the silverware with a steamroll over Daria Gavrilova in the final.

Daria Gavrilova will return to the tournament looking for further success after earning some great wins in Moscow last year. Her path to the final was incredible, beating quality players like Lucie Safarova, Carla Suarez Navarro, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova along the way.  

Kuznetsova and Gavrilova with their respective trophies last year | Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov/Getty Images
Kuznetsova and Gavrilova with their respective trophies last year | Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov/Getty Images

Home players look to draw in crowds

Russia has a very strong contingent at the Kremlin Cup, where they had performed very well as they won the singles competition three consecutive times, a streak which could possibly continue this year. Before Kuznetsova’s double triumph, it was Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who took home the trophy in 2014 before falling in the final while trying to defend the title in 2015.

Daria Kasatkina has had some good memories created in Moscow, having reached the quarterfinals for two straight times. She claimed some impressive wins here in the past, defeating Suarez Navarro, Belinda Bencic and Ekaterina Makarova in the process.

It would also be Elena Vesnina’s incredible 15th consecutive appearance at the Kremlin Cup, with her first appearance dating all the way back to 2003. However, she had not achieved the results she wanted as the Russian only managed to get past the second round once in her career.

Elena Vesnina hits a backhand | Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images North America
Elena Vesnina hits a backhand | Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images North America

Top 10 stars headline the draw

World number nine Dominika Cibulkova is slated to return to a Moscow after missing last year’s competition. The Slovakian is a former champion having claimed the title in 2011, and she has been a loyal participant considering she made eight consecutive appearances from 2008 to 2015.

Former top-10 player Suarez Navarro is also entered in the main draw, in hopes of bettering her best result here in Moscow having reached the quarterfinals back in 2015. Last year, she retired in her opening match against Gavrilova, which prevented her from having a chance to qualify for the WTA Finals.

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko looks to earn her first main draw win in the capital city of Russia having lost in the first round of competition last year against Jelena Jankovic in straight sets. The Latvian will need some good performances to seal her WTA Finals spot as she is currently living on the edge as the eighth-ranked player in the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard.

Johanna Konta is scheduled to make her debut in Moscow as preparation for the WTA Finals, where she is very close to securing a spot. To prevent other players from catching up, the Brit entered this tournament which gifts the Kremlin Cup their fourth top-10 player.

Johanna Konta in action at the US Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Johanna Konta in action at the US Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

Hard Hitters aim to cause some upsets

A decent number of hard-hitters are present in the entry list, with the conditions of the indoor hard courts benefitting them.

Kristina Mladenovic is currently ninth in the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard and she looks to make a final push for a place at the WTA Finals with a good showing here in Moscow. The Frenchwoman is on a six-match losing streak and she has to start finding her groove as soon as possible if she were to also fight for a place in the Top 10.

Coco Vandeweghe will make her first ever appearance at the Kremlin Cup but she will most probably be unseeded unless she produces some incredible results during the Asian swing. The American is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist this year but has been quite inconsistent in the smaller tournaments.

Julia Goerges’ game is one to watch in the indoors conditions especially having reached the semifinals last year, defeating Kasatkina and Vesnina along the way. She has a good chance of progressing deep once again, with her game being able to cause some trouble for the top players.

Kristyna Pliskova will be playing in the main draw of the Kremlin Cup for the first time in her career and her explosive game should be quite formidable on fast surfaces. The top seeds will definitely want to avoid the dangerous Czech in the early stages.

Other players in action

Anastasija Sevastova, the two-time US Open quarterfinalist, leads the remaining players of the field with Lesia Tsurenko, Magdalena Rybarikova, Katerina Siniakova, Alize Cornet and Yulia Putintseva rounding off the field. All of these players will not be new to the conditions in Moscow considering the fact that they have made previous appearances here.

The 2017 Kremlin Cup starts on the 16th of October with a final on Saturday to allow a Sunday start for the WTA Finals, lest the clash of both events occurring concurrently as players might still be able to sneak into the top eight after this tournament.