MOSCOW (AP) With Serena Williams’ decision to withdraw from next week’s WTA Finals, the final spot in the year-end tournament will be decided in Moscow.
Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain each know that winning the Kremlin Cup will guarantee a place at the eight-player finals in Singapore.
If neither Kuznetsova nor Suarez Navarro wins, the final spot stays with Britain’s Johanna Konta, who isn’t playing this week as she tries to shake off an abdominal strain.
Suarez Navarro is happy to have her destiny in her own hands as she aims for her first career finals appearance in singles.
“Sometimes at the end of the season, people are looking at other people, at other results, but it’s not my case,” she said Tuesday. “Now it all depends on me. I think it’s much better.”
Kuznetsova is already assured of her best year-end ranking since 2009 and is aiming to defend her Moscow title in front of a home crowd.
“If I can win the tournament it would be wonderful, great, and everything I’m wishing for, but I don’t want to look that far ahead,” she said.
Both Kuznetsova and Suarez Navarro have first-round byes in Moscow. The Russian will start Wednesday against either France’s Alize Cornet or Shelby Rogers of the U.S., while Suarez Navarro faces a tricky match against either Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic or Russian-born Australian Daria Gavrilova.
Williams, a 22-time Grand Slam singles champion, announced her withdrawal from the WTA Finals on Monday, citing a right shoulder injury. It’s the second year in a row she will miss the finals.
ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.
The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.
“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”
Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.
“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”
Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.
Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.
American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.