What will the 2017 WTA Tour look like?November 01, 2016

Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Monica Seles, Mary Pierce, and Iva Majoli posed on top of the Marina Bay Sands last Thursday. It was the fifth day of the WTA Finals, where Singapore had been the venue during the last few years. Svetlana Kuznetsova had hardly a rest, but she ended on top of the White Group. Spectators at the Singapore Indoor Stadium were surprised to see her cut her hair during the middle of her first match. She was trailing Agnieszka Radwanska, the defending champion, and she figured that her long hair was distracting her. The two-time Grand Slam champion prevailed in three close sets. Dominika Cibulkova was the shortest player in the Red Group, but she managed to sneak into the semifinals after her straight-set victory over Simona Halep.

Kuznetsova and Cibulkova would square off for a place in the finals, while Radwanska beat Karolina Pliskova to advance to the semifinals. The world number three would play Angelique Kerber, who was unbeaten in the round-robin stage. Navratilova believed that the 2017 WTA Tour would offer exciting scenarios, and possibly more drama. Was she right? Let's take a look:

Margaret Smith will live to see Serena William break her record. It's one of the oldest records in the books, where Margaret Smith has the most major trophies. Serena Williams would tie Steffi Graf (for the most major titles in the Open Era) after winning her seventh Wimbledon title last summer. Pundits agree that the American is playing for the big events, and she only needs three more wins to surpass the Australian legend's total. Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena's coach during the last four years, believes she can win more. An injury would keep her from playing a full schedule during the last few years, though. Three seems to be a safe number.

Another player will make a remarkable comeback. Cibulkova won the Comeback Player of the Year Award, and it would be followed by another one next summer. Maria Sharapova will make her comeback during the middle of the clay-court season, but it will be too much to expect from her right away. The Russian wasn't the same after a shoulder injury. It would be safe to bet on Garbine Muguruza, who was experiencing a sophomore slump after her breakthrough at Roland Garros. Sam Stosur has been consistent on clay, reaching the semifinals at the French Open last June. She might do a notch better next year, but she will be a long shot for another major victory. Victoria Azarenka might become a better player after giving birth before the end of the year.

Daria Gavrilova will make her (near) breakthrough next season. Kuznetsova beat her easily in the finals of the Kremlin Cup, but it would be the first final appearance for the 22-year-old from Melbourne. She reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, and many would predict her to do better next year. She can win her first WTA title next season, even break the Top 20. Her career may be similar to Halep's, who had success in the WTA Premier Mandatory and WTA Premier 5 events.

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