???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (7) Belinda Bencic
Ash Barty and Belinda Bencic will go head-to-head for the first time as the pair kick-start their respective debut appearances at the season ending championships. Ash Barty may head into this tournament as the world number 1 but she will have her work cut out to live up to that ranking, Barty has a poor record against her fellow elite 8 members and will face a tough first-up test against an in-form Bencic.
Ash Barty arrives in Shenzhen fresh from a strong Asian Swing. Barty reached the semi-finals in Wuhan before making the final in Beijing. A lingering calf injury was the only major concern for Barty during the Asian swing but she has had some time off back at home before arriving in Shenzhen and should be ready to go come Sunday. Barty finished 2018 on a high by winner the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai so she does have some experience in this type of event despite this being her first showing at the WTA Finals.
Belinda Bencic just snuck into the 2019 WTA Finals at the last minute. Bencic secured her spot in Shenzhen last week by winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Bencic claimed several hard-fought wins in Moscow under great pressure so she arrives in Shenzhen full of confidence and essentially with nothing to lose. Bencic may have been the last to qualify for the event but she is a contender, the Swiss player has a good record against her fellow elite 8 members and has always thrived when playing against the best.
Surprisingly this will be the first career meeting between Barty and Bencic.
I’m going to side with Bencic here. Bencic is battle hardened heading into this opening match having just won the Kremlin Cup a week ago, conversely Barty hasn’t completed a match in almost a month and may take a while to find her rhythm. Bencic has the consistent and efficient game to deal with the variety of Barty, If Bencic remains patient in the rallies and waits for her chance to pull the trigger up the line, she should be strong enough to get the better of the Aussie, especially on an indoor hard court.