Garcia flying high
Last year, Johanna Konta was denied a spot in the WTA Finals in Singapore at the very last, with Svetlana Kuznetsova winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow to pip her to the post.
A repeat this year seemed unlikely, particularly by the beginning of the Asian swing, with any potential usurper requiring an unprecendented run of form to overtake the British No.1.
"Actually, in Tokyo I was speaking with Jo Konta," said Caroline Garcia.
"We were just – not joking about it – but she was pretty safe to be in. After we said, do you remember last year, Kuznetsova had to win and it was a really last minute change and everything? And the only chance [this year] was for someone to win Wuhan and Beijing."
Talk about tempting fate. In the past two weeks, Garcia has reeled off 11 straight victories in a row - three of which were over top 10 opponents - to win consecutive titles in Wuhan and now Beijing, thus jumping up to No.9 in the world, and ahead of Konta in the race for the WTA Finals.
‘I’m so sorry for her. No one would believe someone No.19 in the world would win Wuhan and Beijing in the row, right? We changed all the prognostications for the last spot.
"It’s tennis. We know everything can change fast."
In this form, Garcia - who has been touted by no less a judge than Andy Murray as a future world No.1 - may have her sights set on more than just qualifying for the season ending finals in Singapore.
Nadal leads the way
In the midst of a winning streak of his own, Rafael Nadal took his run of consecutive victories to 12 by beating Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 6-1 in the China Open final, having saved two match points against Lucas Pouille in the opening round.
This was the Spaniard's sixth title of the season - the most won by any player on the ATP tour this year- and his 75th in all, putting him ahead of Rod Laver and into fifth place on the all-time list.
By Nadal's reckoning, his final performance was "one of his best matches of the year", and with the Spaniard now 2,360 points ahead of Roger Federer in the ATP rankings, he'll take some catching if he is to be denied the year end No.1 spot.
Halep reaches the summit
"I don't think it's going to happen this year."
So said Simona Halep of her pursuit of the world No.1 ranking last week in Wuhan. Then, the Romanian had been dumped out in the quarter-finals by Daria Kasatkina, to the tune of a 6-2, 6-1 scoreline.
Fast forward to today and she finally finds herself atop the rankings, having recorded consecutive victories against Kasatkina, Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko, all of whom dealt her painful losses in 2017.
Just as at Roland Garros, Ostapenko stood in the way of Halep and the No.1 ranking, but this time the result went Halep's way, avenging her French Open final defeat with a 6-2, 6-4 win that left her feeling on top of the world.
It was the fourth time this year that the Romanian has been one match away from the top spot, and after her previous shortcomings, the emotions were understandably apparent once she had cleared the final hurdle.
Defeat to Garcia in the Beijing final was a slight blemish on her week, but this breakthrough will surely boost her confidence for the season-ending events to come.
Best shots of the week
Grigor Dimitrov is no stranger to acrobatic efforts, and added to his repertoire in Beijing, while Kyrgios produced one his more nonchalant tweener winners...