By Ros Satar, in Singapore
- Venus Williams  v Jelena Ostapenko 
- Garbiñe Muguruza  v Karolina Pliskova 
- Scenario Corner – what is at stake
SINGAPORE – Venus Williams and Jelena Ostapenko play to avoid the drop, while two of this year’s deposed No. 1s Garbiñe Muguruza and Karolina Plsikova vie for position on Day Three of the WTA Finals.
Venus Williams  v Jelena Ostapenko  | H2H: Williams leads 1-0
Neither had the greatest of starts in their opening rounds. Williams came up against an inspired Karolina Pliskova who punished any ball landing in the middle of the court, and backed it up with solid serving.
Ostapenko did give Garbiñe Muguruza a moment of pause, never giving up but also not very happy with not having had more time to prepare on a surface that several players here are a lot more familiar with.
The pair have met just once, this year as Williams was in her way to the Wimbledon final, while Ostapenko was still coasting on the crest of her maiden Slam-winning wave.
The surface gives us no kind of comparison, but Williams has looked somewhat disengaged since being in Singapore, and maybe it is about keeping the focussed all turned within, but Ostapenko was tenacious enough in her match against Muguruza to know that if Williams starts slowly, Ostapenko will need no second invitation to get in there.
Both are more than capable of using all areas of the court, and both are liable to pepper their games with errors. It is a tough one to call, but if Muguruza wins, and Ostapenko beats Williams, the American is eliminated. Likewise Williams will be hoping for a win for her and for Pliskova to still be in with a shout.
Williams will need to hope she can get in and counter Ostapenko’s use of angles and lines with some skilful volleying.
Prediction: Ostapenko in three sets
Garbiñe Muguruza  v Karolina Pliskova  | Pliskova leads 6-2
With the greatest of respect to the other match in this group, we size up for two players who will most likely be the biggest contenders to snatch the World No. 1 spot back from Simona Halep.
Pliskova impressed the most in the opener – for this week under the watchful eye of Rennae Stubbs, she has looked very much in control of her game plan. Her serve was on point, and she was clean in her execution.
Muguruza wanted her win so badly she admitted that it was a little jittery out there as she battled against a determined Ostapenko, and she will need to be putting on a lights-out performance is she wants to address a pretty damning deficit against the Czech.
Trailing Pliskova, Muguruza finally stopped the rot on the way to the Cincinnati final, which put her very much in contention as the favourite for the US Open. It is difficult though to know who the slow court will favour.
Muguruza had to exhibit a lot of patience to wait for her chance to get past Ostapenko – Pliskova is unlikely to want to give her that kind of time and look. Both actually cover the court well and Pliskova was brutal with any shorter ball that came her way.
However, Muguruza is maybe just a little better at switching from attack to defence, which could curry her favour on this court.
Prediction: Muguruza in two sets.
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