Malaysian Open Final: (6) Eugenie Bouchard vs (2) (wc) Elina Svitolina
Despite a relatively weak field in Kuala Lumpur for the BMW Malaysian Open, we are left with a high quality final between Eugenie Bouchard and Elina Svitolina. This promises to be an extremely close match between two young ladies desperate to claim their first title of the season and a valuable confidence boost before heading to North America for a couple of big premier mandatory events. Interestingly, Svitolina has won all three previous encounters between the pair and has also never lost in a WTA final, therefore the Ukrainian should rightfully enter this match as the slight favourite.
Eugenie Bouchard has shown great commitment and determination to improve her ranking which dropped dramatically after a horror 2015 season. This is Bouchard’s third International event of the season thus far, reaching the final in two of those events. Bouchard clearly recognising that she needs to commit to playing these lower events for her ranking to get back to where she wants it to be.
The Canadian has stormed through the draw this week in Kuala Lumpur without dropping a set or even looking like dropping a set. Genie has dropped more than 3 games in just 1 of her 8 sets this week, recording comfortable straight set victories over Ling Zhang, Kurumi Nara, Cagla Buyukakcay and Naomi Broady. Bouchard will be aiming to claim just her second WTA title on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, her first title was a year and a half ago on the clay in Nurnberg. This is an important match for Bouchard given her record in finals currently stand at 1-5, another loss and that record could start weighing on her mind.
Elina Svitolina’s passage into the final in Kuala Lumpur has been a little less impressive than Bouchard's. Svitolina’s highest ranked opponent on route to the final was world number 133 Risa Ozaki. The Ukrainian started the week with a dominant straight win over Miyu Kato before being pushed to three sets by Risa Ozaki and Kristina Kucova. Svitolina will enter the final in good form after a comfortable 6-3 6-3 victory over Lin Zhu in the semi-finals on Saturday. Interestingly, Svitolina has a perfect 3-0 record in finals, however this will clearly be the toughest final of Svitolina’s career thus far. Can she maintain her perfect record?
Elina Svitolina holds a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record over Eugenie Bouchard, all three matches were played on a hard court. The first two matches between the pair required a third set whilst Svitolina recorded a 7-6 7-5 victory in their most recent clash in Cincinnati last year. Bouchard’s form has certainly improved since their clash in Cincinnati whilst Svitolina’s form has generally not been as impressive. Despite the head-to-head record, this is certainly a really tough match to call.
I thought Svitolina would win the title at the start of the week and I’m going to stick with my original prediction despite Bouchard admittedly having the better form leading into the final. I'm not sure the form of each play actually matters heading into this match given the low quality of opponents both have faced. Svitolina has won all of the previous matches between the pair for a reason, the Ukrainian is extremely solid from the baseline and Bouchard clearly finds it hard to consistently hit through Svitolina. The Ukrainian is the more stable, consistent player and seemingly has the mental edge in this match-up, I think she will get the job done in a really close match but it could really go either way.