On a day of surprises at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, the biggest one was former No. 1 Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the event due to a right shoulder issue. She also was unable to finish the tournament last year.
“It’s not ideal. This is the second time I had to withdraw from the Finals,””Osaka told the crown. “I mean, the last time I at least played, so a retirement instead of a withdrawal.
“Yeah, it kind of sucks because I thought I was playing well. I definitely wanted to win here.”
Osaka was replaced by alternate Kiki Bertens who made the most of her appearance by getting past 2019 World No. 1 Ash Barty 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
“I was really tired,” said Bertens of the last-minute call-up. “But then yesterday I just hit for five or 10 minutes. I just rested completely. I think today I felt already much better. Of course, it’s not like after one day that you’re completely back in full energy.”
In the other match, Belinda Bencic upset Petra Kvitova in three sets 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
“Against Kvitova, you never have anything in your hands. You’re as well standing on the court and hoping she’ll miss sometimes,” said Bencic.
“I think definitely she was dictating the game today. I don’t think we played our best tennis, for sure not. Maybe in the end, the couple last games I found my game, my rhythm, my groove somehow. I’m super proud of that.”
On Wednesday, Simona Halep will meet defending champion Elina Svitolina. And Bianca Andreescu battles Karolina Pliskova with the loser in peril.
WEDNESDAY WTA FINALS SHENZHEN SCHEDULE
 Elise MERTENS (BEL) / Aryna SABALENKA (BLR) vs  CHAN Hao-Ching (TPE) / Latisha CHAN (TPE)
Not before 6.30pm
 Simona HALEP (ROU) vs  Elina SVITOLINA (UKR)
Not before 8pm
 Karolina PLISKOVA (CZE) vs  Bianca ANDREESCU (ROU)
 Timea BABOS (HUN) / Kristina MLADENOVIC (FRA) vs  Anna-Lena GROENEFELD (GER) / Demi SCHUURS (NED)
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