Johanna Konta’s chances of qualifying for the end-of-season WTA Finals in Singapore have waned dramatically in the last fortnight. But at least she still has an outside shot after Caroline Garcia – her rival for the eighth and last place on the invitation list – pulled out of this week’s event in Tianjin on Monday, citing an unspecified injury.
Garcia, who was anointed as a future No. 1 by Andy Murray in 2011, has just surged up the world rankings by becoming the first woman to complete the China double: winning Wuhan and Beijing back to back. As a result, she moved 185 points ahead of Konta in the race to play in Singapore – a small margin, perhaps, but a tricky one to pull back at this late stage of the season.
There are two weeks left before the BNP Paribas WTA Finals, and Konta declined to play in Hong Kong this week, returning home to rest a foot injury instead. After her run to the Wimbledon semi-final in July, she had seemed all but certain to reach Singapore with something to spare. But she has won only two matches since then – both of them in Cincinnati – and lost her other six.
Konta is down to play at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow next week, where she needs to reach the final to have a chance of moving back ahead of Garcia. Should she finish as runner-up, she would gain 250 points, while the title would kick her forward by 405. The Kremlin Cup has a 28-player draw, and Konta will receive a first-round bye, so three wins would take her to the trophy match.
This doesn’t take into account any points that Garcia might collect next week, however. She is not entered into either of the concluding regular-season tournaments – the other one being Luxembourg – but could still apply for a wild card.
There is a sense of history repeating itself, after Konta bid to reach Singapore last season was thwarted at the last moment by Svetlana Kuznetsova’s capture of the Kremlin Cup. No British woman has participated in the WTA’s season-ending event since Virginia Wade in 1980. And for the second year running, Konta’s campaign looks likely to go down to the wire.