Bianca Andreescu, Simona Halep set to clash for first time at WTA Finals

Bianca Andreescu, Simona Halep set to clash for first time at WTA Finals

SHENZHEN, China — Bianca Andreescu will play her first career match against Simona Halep at the WTA Finals — a contest that should make headlines in Canada and Romania.

The draw for the US$14-million event, held Friday, puts Canada’s Andreescu in the Purple Group with Romania’s Halep, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and 2018 WTA Finals champ Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

Andreescu’s family is from Romania and the 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., spent some of her childhood in that country.

“Simona, I’ve never played her, but I’ve looked up to her,” Andreescu said. “It’ll be a really interesting matchup, so I’m excited.”

Andreescu is the fourth seed at the eight-player event, while Halep is No. 5. They’re also the winners of the two most recent Grand Slams with Halep taking Wimbledon and Andreescu beating Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final.

The second-seeded Pliskova is the top-ranked player in the Purple Group. Andreescu won her only match against Pliskova, beating her in a quarterfinal at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in August en route to the title.

Andreescu also is 1-0 against Svitolina, prevailing in a semifinal at Indian Wells, Calif., before winning that event in March.

“I played Svitolina and Pliskova once this year, so I kind of know what to expect,” Andreescu said.

The Red Group includes No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, No. 3 Naomi Osaka of Japan, No. 6 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and No. 7 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.

Play begins Sunday with Osaka vs. Kvitova and Barty vs. Bencic.

After a round-robin, the top two players in each group receive semifinal berths.

Andreescu is the first Canadian in the WTA Finals singles draw since 2014 when Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., went 0-3.

In doubles, Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu of China are seeded fourth.

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