Wozniacki keeps No. 1 as Halep WDs


Simona Halep had an opportunity to take the No. 1 ranking back from current holder Caroline Wozniacki. She needed to go one round further than the Dane in Doha this week.

That won’t happen.

Wozniacki stays No. 1.

After defeating qualifier CiCi Bellis 6-0, 6-4 in the quarterfinals, Halep withdrew with her ongoing foot injury.

“She looked like she was moving well out there. But she’s a great player, and a great champion, and I hope she’ll be back out soon,” Wozniacki said after winning her own match against Angelique Kerber.

Halep also will miss Dubai next week.

First-round exit for Sharapova in Doha


Getting a qualifier was theoretically a good opener Maria Sharapova in Doha as she faced Monica Niculescu in the first round Monday.

But Sharapova lost, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a two hour, 38-minute match where, ironically, she showed far more variety than usual.

She had to get down-and-dirty, matching Niculescu forehand slice for forehand slice as the Romanian’s funky game threw her groundstrokes for a loop.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly has been missing in Sharapova’s game since her return last April. The fighting spirit is there.

But she’s not dictating as she once did.

Sania Mirza out two more months


There’s a familiar face missing atop the WTA Tour doubles rankings.

Sania Mirza, who finished 2015 and 2016 ranked No. 1, is down to No. 14 after being out of action since last September’s tournament in Beijing, China.

“A couple of more months. … Even if there was a surgery there is no guarantee that it is going to get better. It’s basically pain that I need to manage,” Mirza told the WTA website.

“It got out of hand so I had to take time off. I could not take pain killers anymore. It is getting better.”

Halep January player of the month


It’s a consolation prize, of sorts, for Simona Halep.

The Romanian was named the WTA Tour’s January Player of the month after winning the season-opening event in Shenzhen and reaching the final at the Australian Open.

For some reason, this trumped Caroline Wozniacki making the final at her season opener in Auckland, New Zealand – and then winning in Melbourne and taking over the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

But hey, who are we to judge?

Wozniacki went home with the big trophy, so she’s probably not too concerned about not taking that prize.

WTA approves FoxTenn line-calling system


The FoxTenn line-calling system has already been used on the ATP Tour, at the Metz and Antwerp tournaments last fall.

It was approved last December by the joint ITF committee that rules on such things.

This week, the WTA announced it has approved FoxTenn for use on hard courts. 

“After an essential testing period, we’re satisfied the FoxTenn system meets our criteria of accuracy and reliability,” WTA CEO Matt Cenedella said.

FoxTenn is supposed to be cheaper than Hawkeye. So hopefully that means more of the WTA’s lower-level events will invest.

Venus tops 2017 prize-money list


Venus Williams is the season-ending leader on the WTA Tour’s prize money list – for the first time since 2001.

With her effort in Singapore, the 37-year-old American narrowly edged out Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza for the honours.

Williams finished with $5,468,741 – all in singles. Muguruza’s final tally was $5,433,457 – all but $3,559 of it in singles.

Simona Halep also topped $5 million while Caroline Wozniacki (who also didn’t get the big-bucks payoff of a Grand Slam title), fell just short at $4,748,518.

In all, 23 players topped the $1 million mark in singles. Add in doubles, and that number climbs to 36.

Zhuhai – One final player party


As the WTA Tour season finally draws to a close, there was one last chance for the ladies to get spiffed up and attend a fancy players’ party.

This one took place in Zhuhai, the host site for the second-tier year-end finals involving players ranked just outside the final eight who qualified for the event in Singapore last week.

These events typically feature the coaches as the “plus-one”s for the women. But they generally “forget” to pack the more formal party attire.

Just like high school, in a way.

But the women look amazing.

Clijsters doesn’t love on-court coaching


Kim Clijsters doesn’t love on-court coaching.

“In a way, I also think it’s a little bit of a sign of weakness, or you’re worried or you’re in doubt, at times,” Clijsters said during the WTA Tour Finals broadcast Sunday.

“I just wasn’t a big fan of it. I did enjoy, seeing – if I was up a break, and I could see my opponent call theircoach out on court, I was like, ‘Okay, you need some extra help.’ ”

(The pic shows Caroline Wozniacki on a coaching consult during the WTA Finals in Qatar in 2010. Clijsters won, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Svitolina and the Singapore primates


It’s in the WTA Tour rules that the participants in the Tour Finals in Singapore must arrive way ahead of time, to fulfil whatever promotional obligations the Tour folk dream up for them.

For first-timer Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, that meant a trip to the Singapore Zoo.

Svitolina got to mix and mingle with the flame-furred orangutans.

Smartly, she wore sensible shoes.

Svitolina is in the Red Group for the round-robin portion of the event with Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki and Caroline Garcia.

Ostapenko qualifies for Singapore


The race for the final eight is now down to one, after Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko qualified for Singapore.

She is the seventh to make it; one spot remains.

Were Singapore played by the ATP Tour Finals rules, Ostapenko would have been in long ago with her French Open title and top-20 ranking.

But she earned her way in with an impressive Asian swing.

Ostapenko won in Seoul, reached the semis in Wuhan, and is in the Beijing semis, where she’ll play Simona Halep Saturday.

She doesn’t seem all that impressed.