While the ATP offers two year-end tournaments, one for the Top 8 players and another for the Top 8 youngsters, the WTA has a different approach, with the Top 8 WTA Finals on offer, but also a competition for players ranked between ninth and 20th place in the WTA Rankings.
As world no. 19, Haddad Maia was one of the players who qualified for the tournament, and she cruised through the event, starting with her first group match against Madison Keys from the United States.
After that, the Brazilian defeated last year's WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia, before also overpowering Russia's Daria Kasatkina in the semifinals of the competition.
In the final, she met recent Asian Games champion, Qinwen Zheng, who was also in very good form, beating Donna Vekic, Jelena Ostapenko, and Lin Zhu, all in three sets, to reach the final.
The first set of the final was a real battle, and offered a handful of opportunities for both players. First, Haddad Maia had a break points, but it was Zheng who broke first in the fifth game of the opening set.
After that, the Chinese player saved two break points, leading already 4-2. But she then lost three following three games, as the Brazilian got into a 5-4 lead. Both players then held their serve comfortably, and the set had to be decided in a tie-break.
The first-set tie-break was worth a WTA Elite Trophy final, when both players showed their incredible fighting spirit. Haddad Maia had four set points, while her opponent had three, but the Brazilian proved to be more consistent, winning the tie-break 13-11.
After an 86-minute set, fans in Zhuhai, where the 2023 WTA Elite Trophy is played, got even more action in the second set, and once again, it was a real drama. First, Haddad Maia went into a one-break lead when she was up 3-1.
The Chinese player then broke back, but it didn't last too long, as the Brazilian was able to jump into a 5-3 lead. At 5-3, Haddad Maia was two points away from winning the match, but she couldn't pull through.
In the following game, when she was serving for the match, the Brazilian once again was only two points away from winning, but Zheng, backed by the home crowd, broke back and leveled the score at 5-5.
Both players, despite some difficulties, then managed to hold their serves once more, and so another tie-break had to be played, at a time when the clock already showed two hours and 41 minutes.
Zheng got off to a good start in the tie-break, leading 2-0, but eventually, Haddad Maia completely overpowered her to win the match 7-6(11), 7-6(4), and the 2023 WTA Elite Trophy.