Briton Johanna Konta has edged one step closer to securing her place in the WTA Finals this weekend after rival Carla Suarez Navarro was forced to retire from her second-round match against Daria Gavrilova at the Kremlin Cup. Having dropped the opening set 6-4, the Spaniard was facing a 3-0 deficit in the second before withdrawing from the match due to a wrist injury.
Navarro, ninth in the Road to Singapore rankings on 3,170 points, needed to win the tournament in Moscow in order to surpass Konta for that final qualification spot and, as a result of that premature exit, can no longer hope to feature in the annual season-ending event that features the world's top eight female singles players.
With British No1 Konta having pulled out of the Hong Kong Open last week before her scheduled meeting with Qiang Wang due to an abdominal strain, her WTA Finals fate now rests solely in the hands of Svetlana Kuznetsova. The two-time Grand Slam winner currently sits in 10th place with 3,080 points and, like Navarro, will know that nothing less than an overall win at the Kremlin Cup will suffice.
Kuznetsova is currently on course to achieve that very goal, having followed her first-round bye with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Alize Cornet. The Russian right-hander faces Timea Babos of Hungary in the quarter-finals tomorrow (20 October).
The first seven automatic qualification spots for Singapore have been decided, with Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza, Madison Keys and Linz Open winner Dominika Cibulkova already in the draw. Konta's hopes of joining that lineup were initially bolstered earlier this week when Serena Williams withdrew from the competition for the second year in a row due to an ongoing shoulder injury.
"I am really, really bombed that I won't be able to compete," Williams said on Monday. "It has been a really tough year for me, just dealing with my shoulder injury. My doctor insists that I stay at home and heal it every single day so I can have a chance to play next year."