???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen SF #2 preview
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (2) Karolina Pliskova
The top 2 players in the world will do battle in the second semi-final from Shenzhen as Ash Barty comes up against Karolina Pliskova. This is one of the tour’s most competitive match-ups, the pair have split their 4 tour level meetings and both will head into this match with confidence. Who will book their place in Sunday’s final at the WTA Finals Shenzhen?
Ash Barty has secured her spot as season ending number 1 and is now a few wins away from securing her first WTA Finals crown. Barty has probably secured her status as player of the year in 2019 and will certainly have that honour if she can go on to win the title this week. It has been an up and down week for Barty. The Aussie started the event with a comeback win over Belinda Bencic in 3 sets before succumbing to Kiki Bertens in 3 sets from a set and a break up. The Reigning Roland Garros champion secured her spot in the final 4 with a commanding straight set victory over Petra Kvitova to finish on top of the red group.
Karolina Pliskova is through to her third consecutive semi-final at the WTA Finals. Pliskova will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky as she aims to reach the final of the event for the first time at her third attempt. Pliskova’s week started in disappointment as she was beaten by Elina Svitolina in straight sets. Pliskova received a lifeline in her second group match when Bianca Andreescu retired injured. It was all or nothing for Pliskova and Simona Halep in the final match from the red group and it was Pliskova who came out on top 6-0 2-6 6-4.
Barty holds a slight 3-2 head-to-head record over Pliskova. The pair have split their last 4 meetings at the tour level, each match was reasonably tight. There has been at least 1 tiebreak set in 4 of their 5 matches and at least 1 close set in each match. It was Barty who emerged victorious in their most recent match, a 7-6 6-3 win for the Aussie in the Miami Open final earlier this year.
I’m going to side with Barty here. On a very slow court, the variety and consistency of Barty should give her the slight edge over Pliskova. The Barty slice could be especially troublesome for Pliskova on this surface, especially at the end of the season when footwork isn’t necessarily as sharp. Importantly, Barty can match the power and accuracy of Pliskova on serve, Barty’s return is slightly stronger and I would give the Aussie the edge in neutral baseline exchanges.