Our tennis betting man Andy Schooler brings you his 2019 WTA Finals betting tips – the action in Shenzhen starts on Sunday.

Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, China (indoor hard)

The biggest cheque in tennis history will be up for grabs at the season-ending WTA Finals this week with the champion taking home as much as US$4.7million.

The best eight female players of the season will compete in the new host city of Shenzhen – the event has been staged in Singapore for the last five years – and early indications from the players suggest the indoor hardcourt is playing fairly slow.

Here’s my look at the contenders for the title with my verdict below. The action begins on Sunday.

Red Group

Ashleigh Barty
Odds: Title – 9/2 Group – 2/1

Race to Shenzhen: 1st

2019 win-loss record: 52-11 (3 titles – Birmingham, Roland Garros, Miami)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 8-5

Tournament record: Debut (in singles)

Recent form: Beijing RU (l Osaka), Wuhan SF (l Sabalenka)

Record v group opponents:

v Osaka – overall: 1-2; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-1
v Kvitova – overall: 2-4; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 2-2
v Bencic – overall: 0-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0

The Australian, a surprise winner of the French Open back in June, heads into the event as world number one having amassed the most wins on the WTA circuit this year. Played well enough on the recent Asian swing, reaching the final in Beijing but losing to Naomi Osaka, who she will again face in what looks the tougher of the two groups. Should contend.

Purple Group

Karolina Pliskova
Odds: Title – 8/1 Group – 5/2

Race to Shenzhen: 2nd

2019 win-loss record: 50-15 (4 titles – Zhengzhou, Eastbourne, Rome, Brisbane)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 3-2

Tournament record: 5-6 (18 SF, 17 SF, 16 Gp)

Recent form: Beijing L64 (l Ostapenko), Wuhan L16 (l Yastremska), Zhengzhou W

Record v group opponents:

v Halep – overall: 3-7; indoor hard: 1-1; 2019: 1-1
v Andreescu – overall: 0-1; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-1
v Svitolina – overall: 4-3; indoor hard: 0-1; 2019: 0-0

Has won more titles this year than any player in this field but only five of her 65 matches have been against players in the top 10 which suggests she made have had things a little easier than some. Has got out of the group stage at this event in each of the last two years but was on a bit of a downer about slow conditions when she spoke on Friday. Her big serve would prefer a faster court it seems.

Simona Halep
Odds: Title – 6/1 Group – 9/4

Race to Shenzhen: 4th

2019 win-loss record: 42-15 (1 title – Wimbledon)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 5-3

Tournament record: 6-8 (17 Gp, 16 Gp, 15 Gp, 14 RU)

Recent form: Beijing L32 (l Alexandrova), Wuhan L16 (l Rybarikova)

Record v group opponents:

v Pliskova – overall: 7-3; indoor hard: 1-1; 2019: 1-1
v Andreescu – overall: 0-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0
v Svitolina – overall: 4-4; indoor hard: 1-1; 2019: 2-0

Simona Halep

Halep was impeccable at Wimbledon in the summer but that is actually the only tournament she has won in 2019. She arrives in poor form having lost twice to players ranked outside the top 35 during the Asia swing when she also picked up a back injury. Her tournament record offers little respite either – she’s exited at the group stage on each of her last three appearances. Looks to be up against it.

Bianca Andreescu
Odds: Title – 7/2 Group – 2/1

Race to Shenzhen: 5th

2019 win-loss record: 48-5 (3 titles – US Open, Toronto, Indian Wells)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 8-1

Tournament record: Debut

Recent form: Beijing QF (l Osaka)

Record v group opponents:

v Pliskova – overall: 1-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 1-0
v Halep – overall: 0-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0
v Svitolina – overall: 1-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 1-0

Andreescu has surely been the WTA player of the season. A virtual unknown at the start of the year, she has produced the best win-loss ratio with only five losses all season and her wins include eight (in nine matches) against top-10-ranked foes. The Canadian, who barely played for four months due to injury, is the only player in the field unbeaten this year against her group opponents (in fact she has never lost to any of them). Showed her terrific ability to turn defence into attack during her US Open title run and looks primed to challenge here too.

Elina Svitolina
Odds: Title – 8/1 Group – 4/1

Race to Shenzhen: 8th

2019 win-loss record: 35-21 (No titles)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 1-5

Tournament record: 6-2 (18 W, 17 Gp)

Recent form: Moscow L16 (l Kudermetova) Beijing QF (l Bertens), Wuhan QF (l Riske), Guangzhou L16 (l Bouzkova), Zhengzhou QF (l Mladenovic)

Record v group opponents:

v Pliskova – overall: 3-4; indoor hard: 1-0; 2019: 0-0
v Halep – overall: 4-4; indoor hard: 1-1; 2019: 0-2
v Andreescu – overall: 0-1; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-1

Last year’s winner in Singapore is back to defend her title, but only just. Having only managed to win 35 matches this season (the fewest of the qualifiers), Svitolina finished eighth in the Race to Shenzhen and is yet to win a title of any sort. Form isn’t good – she’s failed to go beyond the quarter-finals in her five tournaments since the US Open – and she’s only won one match against a top-10 player this year. On the plus side, Svitolina is the only player in Shenzhen who has won more matches than they’ve lost at the WTA Finals but it will be a surprise if she is able to retain her crown.

Verdict

There have been some surprises in recent years at the WTA Finals – Svitolina’s success 12 months ago followed wins for Caroline Wozniacki, Dominika Cibulkova and Agnieszka Radwanska.

With the women’s game remaining very open – there have been four different Grand Slam champions and the world number one ranking has changed hands four times – that is worth noting.

However, Bianca Andreescu looks capable of justifying favouritism in Shenzhen.

She’s been outstanding this season, winning 48 of 53 matches and one of those saw her retire injured.

Significantly given the quality gathered in China, she’s won eight of nine against top-10 opponents and has risen to the occasion at the biggest tournaments – her three titles have come at the US Open, plus the Premier events in Indian Wells and Toronto.

She’s landed in what looks the weaker group and has never lost to any of her group opponents.

I’m frankly very surprised to see her up at 2/1 to win the Purple Group so I’ll add that bet to the coupon, as well as backing her at 7/2 for the title.

Of the outsiders, Belinda Bencic is the one whose price looks out of kilter and maybe the young Swiss mayjust follow in the footsteps of Svitolina et al as a surprise champion.

The Red Group is going to be highly competitive but Bencic arrives on the back of a title in Moscow on indoor hard and also brings a 9-6 record against top-10 players this season, including a 3-0 record against Naomi Osaka.

After a season in which she’s climbed more than 40 ranking spots, Bencic has little to lose and her strong all-round game means 12/1 looks rather large.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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