???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen Final preview
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (8) Elina Svitolina
A blockbuster championship match will conclude the inaugural WTA Finals Shenzhen as top seed and world number 1 Ashleigh Barty comes up against defending champion Elina Svitolina. It is Svitolina who heads into this match with a distinct edge given her dominant 5-0 head-to-head record over the Aussie. However, Barty has improved significantly in 2019, has the world number 1 improved her game enough to finally get the better of Svitolina?
Ash Barty has the chance to finish her greatest season on the ultimate high. Barty will end the year as number 1 and can extend the gap at the top even further by winning the WTA Finals in her first appearance at the event. Barty had a roller-coaster ride through the group stage but still managed to top the red group. Barty started the event with a 3-set win over Belinda Bencic before losing from a set and a break up to Kiki Bertens. The Aussie secured her spot in the final 4 with a straight set win over Petra Kvitova before booking a spot in the final with a hard-fought 4-6 6-2 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova.
Elina Svitolina heads into Sunday’s final in Shenzhen on an incredible 9-match winning streak at the WTA Finals. The defending champion has been in outstanding form all week, thriving on the grind on the slow courts in Shenzhen. Svitolina topped the purple group with straight set wins over Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin. The Ukrainian’s first lapse came in her semi-final victory over Belinda Bencic, Svitolina won via retirement 5-7 6-3 4-1. There was an element of luck to Svitolina’s win over Bencic but credit to Svitolina, she is in outstanding shape and simply incredibly tough to beat on this surface.
Svitolina has won all 5 of the previous matches between the pair. 3 of those victories were in straight sets and 4 of them were on hard courts. The most recent match between the pair was the closest Barty has come to victory, Svitolina required over 3 hours to claim a 7-6 5-7 6-4 win over the Aussie in Indian Wells earlier this year.
I have to side with Svitolina here. The head-to-head record does not lie. Svitolina has the clear edge in this match-up having won all 5 of their previous matches. Barty has admitted that Svitolina is her toughest opponent and it is easy to see why. It is incredibly tough for Barty to consistently hit through Svitolina, Svitolina is happy to engage in a scrap with Barty, the Ukrainian is consistent and disciplined and not afraid of the Barty backhand slice, Svitolina is happy to trade cross court over and over again with Barty and will come out on top more often than not. The slow hard courts in Shenzhen favour Svitolina in this match-up, expect the defending champion to be too solid on a surface that will allow her play this match on her terms.