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Sazali Abdul Aziz
Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Sports

Tennis: Glam girls ready for the big slam

The New Paper on Sunday | Sazali Abdul Aziz | Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

World's Finest: (From left) Caroline Wozniacki, Agniezska Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Eugenie Bouchard and Ana Ivanovic are ready to do battle starting October 20, 2014.

They looked more like supermodels than world-class athletes.

But, make no mistake about it, the world's top eight players taking part in the week-long BNP Paribas Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Finals Singapore that starts tomorrow, are all in it to win it.

Yesterday, the eight - Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep, Eugenie Bouchard, Agniezska Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki - added glamour to the US$6.5 million (S$8.3m) tournament's draw at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS).

Some chose to wear cocktail dresses, others flowing gowns. Whatever their choice, the ladies dazzled the crowd of over 500 that had squeezed into the area around the skating rink at MBS, and on the second and third floors.

The players were later split into two groups, Red and White, named after the colours that make up the Republic's flag. In the Red Group were world No. 1 Williams, Halep, Bouchard and Ivanovic.

Sharapova, Kvitova, Radwanska and Wozniaki were drawn in the White Group.

It appeared later, however, that they didn't really care who they were grouped with. They all echoed the same thing: that there are no easy matches at this tournament.

World No. 2 Sharapova said: "I think every match will be a challenge. "There are some players who I've lost to this year (in the same group), and some players who I beat, so it's a little bit of everything. I hope to start on a good note."

Sixth-seed Radwanska added: "Maria is really on fire now, so is Petra and Caroline had a great latter half of season. "We'll all have tough matches here. It's 50-50 chance for everyone (in every game)."

Fifth-seed Bouchard, the youngest of the eight at just 20, said: "We are the top eight players in the world, so every single match, no matter what group you're in is going to be a really tough one.

"I'm with the No. 1 player in the world (Williams), the greatest player of all time, arguably, so it's going to be exciting to get some good match-ups."

Williams returned a compliment to the Canadian, saying she had not played Bouchard yet this year before describing her as "the most consistent in all the Grand Slams this year".

There is an added incentive for the champions of the inaugural Singapore Finals.

During the draw, Singapore Tourism Board chief executive Lionel Yeo said orchid hybrids will be named after the winners of singles and doubles events.

Said Yeo: "This honour has been conferred in the past to visiting dignitaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or more recently, the King and Queen of Malaysia.

"I believe this is the first time an orchid hybrid will be named after sports personalities."

Melissa Pine, the tournament director for the Singapore Finals, said she was looking forward to an exciting week of action ahead.

She said: "We are thrilled with the player field... every single player is just incredible on and off the court.

"They've worked hard all year working on 54 WTA events, vying for a spot here. Every match will be like a Grand Slam final.

"I'm looking forward to seeing a full house at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. To see fans engaged in the arena, to see the smiles on the players when they walk out and see Singaporeans really embracing them."

Signs are good that the tournament will be well-attended.

All 10,000 seats at the Indoor Stadium for next Sunday's grand final - ticket prices range from $85 to $196 - have been snapped up.

Limited tickets remain for tomorrow's opening night.


This article was first published on October 19, 2014.
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