🇦🇺 Australian Open, R3 preview + prediction: 🇺🇦 (5) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇪🇸 Garbine Muguruza
A blockbuster third round clash at Melbourne Park on Saturday sees the 5th seeded Elina Svitolina take on a resurgent Garbine Muguruza. This is an early heavyweight battle at the first major of the year, two players that expect to be featuring at the later stages of major events doing battle for a spot in the round of 16.
Elina Svitolina arrived in Melbourne without a win to her name in 2020 but has done well to move through her first couple of matches at Melbourne Park without dropping a set. The 5th seed started the tournament with a 6/4 7/5 win over Katie Boulter before winning a late night clash with Lauren Davis 6/2 7/6. Svitolina is typically the type of player to get better and better as a tournament progresses, the Ukrainian will certainly need to raise her level against Muguruza in the next round in what will be her first major test of the tournament thus far.
Garbine Muguruza has come through a couple of rollercoaster matches to reach the third round at Melbourne Park. Muguruza started the week with a bizarrely lopsided 0/6 6/1 6/0 win over Shelby Rogers before battling past a nervy Ajla Tomljanovic 6/3 3/6 6/3. Muguruza’s ranking has significantly dropped over the last 12 months but the 2-time former Grand Slam champion is showing signs that she is getting her game back together, albeit in patches.
This has historically been a favourable match-up for Svitolina. It is the Ukrainian who holds a 5-2 head-to-head record over Muguruza at the tour level. All 5 of Svitolina’s victories over Muguruza have been on a hard court, including their most recent match which ended in a 7/5 6/2 victory for Svitolina in Wuhan late last year.
I’m going to side with Svitolina here. History shows that this is a good match-up for Svitolina and it is easy to see why. Svitolina is one of the toughest competitors on tour and also one of the most consistent, she gives nothing away for free and fights for every single point. Muguruza is a streaky player who often goes missing for periods in a match, we have seen that from the Spaniard in both of her matches at this event. Svitolina will always be there to take advantage of that drop and that is why she has a strong record over the Spaniard. Svitolina is simply too solid, Svitolina has the defensive skills, variety and stamina to cause Muguruza a whole heap of problems on a hard court.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Garbine Muguruza in 2 sets
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🇨🇳👑🐲 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.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Ashleigh Barty in 2 sets
🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen SF #1 preview 🇺🇦 (8) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇨🇭 (7) Belinda Bencic
Elina Svitolina and Belinda Bencic will kick-start proceedings on semi-final day at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. Svitolina and Bencic were the last two players to qualify for this year’s tournament but both have continued the recent trend of late entrants having success in the season finale. This should be entertaining clash between two of the tour’s most fearsome competitors.
Elina Svitolina is now just a couple of wins away from becoming the first player to win back-to-back editions of the WTA Finals since 2014. Svitolina is on an 8-match winning streak at the WTA Finals, a truly outstanding effort from the Ukrainian. The 8th seed is once again loving the court conditions at the WTA Finals, the slow, lifeless courts in Shenzhen are perfect for Svitolina, similar to the Singapore courts where Elina captured the title last year. Svitolina went through the group stage without dropping a single set, Svitolina claimed straight set wins over Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin to top the purple group.
Belinda Bencic has had a topsy-turvy route to the semi-finals in her first appearance at the WTA Finals. Bencic was beaten by Ash Barty in 3 sets on the opening day but responded with a 3 set win of her own against Petra Kvitova. Bencic secured her spot in the final 4 with a bit of luck on her side as Bertens retired ill midway through their crucial winner takes all clash. Bencic has nothing to lose this week and remains a big threat given her impressive record over top opponents.
It is Bencic who heads into this match with a 2-1 record over Svitolina. However it was Svitolina who came out on top in their most recent clash, a 6-2 6-4 win for Svitolina at the Rogers Cup earlier this year.
I’m going to side with Svitolina here. There is absolutely no doubt that Svitolina has been the most impressive player throughout the group stage, Svitolina is remarkably solid and just so tough to beat at the moment on these slow courts. The conditions should be favourable for Svitolina in this match-up, Bencic likes absorb and redirect pace but she won’t be able to do that easily in this match-up, instead she will be forced into a baseline scrap with many long rallies, this certainly favours Svitolina who is quicker, stronger and mentally tougher.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Belinda Bencic in 2 sets
🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview 🇺🇦 (8) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇺🇸 (Alt) Sofia Kenin
Elina Svitolina and Sofia Kenin will go head-to-head for the fifth time in 2019 when they do battle on the final day of group stage matches at the 2019 WTA Finals Shenzhen. The pair have split their four previous meetings, each match was tight with at least 1 tiebreak being played in each of their previous matches.
The scenario heading into this match is a strange one. Svitolina has already secured top spot in the purple group and will be playing Belinda Bencic in the semi-finals on Saturday regardless of what happens in this match. Meanwhile Kenin received a late call to play as the second alternate when Bianca Andreescu pulled out of her final group stage match due to injury. Essentially this is a dead rubber as Kenin can’t progress and Svitolina is through, however there are ranking points and prize money at stake.
Elina Svitolina has made a perfect start to her title defense in Shenzhen and has easily been the most impressive player of the tournament thus far. The Ukrainian kick-started her title defense with a 7-6 6-4 win over Karolina Pliskova before defeating Simona Halep 7-5 6-3. The slow, lifeless courts in Shenzhen are proving to be a perfect surface for Svitolina, just as the similar surface was for her last year in Singapore. Svitolina heads into this match having won her last 7 matches at the WTA Finals, an amazing run given the quality of opposition.
Sofia Kenin will get one last chance to shine in 2019. Kenin has been one of the most improved players this year and deservedly gets a chance to play on the biggest stage. It has been a long season for the American who was competing at the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai last week where she failed to progress through the group stage.
The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 2 wins apiece. The most recent match between the two took place in Beijing a month ago where Svitolina won 6-3 6-7 6-3. Matches between these two are always a physical battle with many long rallies, expect the same here on a slow court.
This is a tough match to predict given circumstances. Svitolina is through and Kenin can’t progress. I’m going to side with Kenin. It is Kenin who knows this is her last match, she can give her all, whilst Svitolina knows she has to play Bencic tomorrow in the semi-finals. In a match-up that requires Svitolina to grind for victory it wouldn’t be wise for the defending champion to push too hard. If Kenin gets on top early the resistance from Svitolina may understandably be minimal.
Prediction: Sofia Kenin to defeat Elina Svitolina in 2 sets
🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview 🇷🇴 (5) Simona Halep vs. 🇺🇦 (8) Elina Svitolina
Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina will reignite their rivalry when they do battle in the opening singles match on Wednesday at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. Halep and Svitolina both claimed hard-fought victories to kick-start their Shenzhen campaigns and will head into this match full of confidence. The winner of this match will be the first from the purple group to secure a spot in the semi-finals, who will it be?
Simona Halep claimed a memorable 3-6 7-6 6-3 victory over Bianca Andreescu to begin her 6th consecutive appearance at the WTA Finals. Halep fended off match point late in the second set before running away with the match in the decider thanks to her superior toughness and stamina. It will be interesting to see how Halep recovers in time for her match with Svitolina, a match that will probably be even tougher for the reigning Wimbledon champion.
Elina Svitolina made a positive start to her title defense at the WTA Finals. The Ukrainian claimed a typically gutsy 7-6 6-4 win over Karolina Pliskova. Svitolina’s trademark toughness was on display as she edged past the big-hitting Pliskova 14-12 in the opening set tiebreak, finally converting on seventh set point before sneaking through in the tight second set. Svitolina has now won an impressive 6 consecutive matches at this event and will fancy her chances of extending that streak to 7 victories against Halep.
The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 4 wins apiece, this is indeed one of the most even match-ups on tour with both players possessing similar strengths and vulnerabilities. Halep has won the last couple of matches between the pair, both in 2019. Most recently Halep won 6-1 6-3 in the final 4 at Wimbledon.
This is of course a very difficult match to predict. I will give the slight edge to Svitolina. The defending champion is probably favoured by the slow, low bouncing hard courts in this match-up. This will be a total grind and that favours Svitolina. Svitolina looked sharp in her opening win over Pliskova whilst Halep was admittedly exhausted after a very tough win over Andreescu. It feels like Svitolina is in slightly better shape heading into this match as well as being slightly favoured by the conditions.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Simona Halep in 3 sets
🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview 🇨🇿 (2) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇺🇦 (8) Elina Svitolina
Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina will renew hostilities when they go head-to-head on the opening day of matches from the purple group at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. Pliskova and Svitolina have followed similar pathways over the last few years, arguably the two best players on tour at the moment not to win a major title. Svitolina played inspired tennis to win this event in Singapore last year, can the Ukrainian regain that stunning form this time around to defend her title?
Karolina Pliskova arrives in Shenzhen as the number 2 player in the word but she certainly isn’t one of the favourites this week. Pliskova has a poor record against her fellow elite 8 members and hasn’t been in the best form of late. Pliskova managed to win just 1 match during the Wuhan, Beijing double. To her credit, Pliskova has had another solid season but when the going gets tough she usually stumbles.
Elina Svitolina booked her spot in the WTA Finals in the final few weeks of the season for a second year in a row. The 2018 Singapore champion knows what it takes to win this tournament, Svitolina spectacularly won all 5 matches of her matches at the event last year to become one of the most deserving champions of the event in recent times. Svitolina brings decent form into this years event having reached 3 quarter-finals during the Asian swing.
Pliskova holds a 5-3 record over Svitolina. However, Svitolina has won the last 3 matches between the pair and in general I would think that this match-up favours the Ukrainian. The most recent match between the pair took place at the WTA Finals last year, Svitolina won 6-3 2-6 6-3.
I’m going to side with Svitolina here. Pliskova struggles in these match-ups against the best counter-punchers, Pliskova has bad recent records against Halep, Kerber and has lost her last 3 matches against Svitolina. Pliskova needs to be at her very best to win these matches, Svitolina is so consistent that it means Pliskova needs to redline to hit through the Ukrainian. Once Svitolina gets into a neutral rally with Pliskova she has the big advantage, Svitolina should be able to get into enough of those to get over the line. Svitolina is tougher and is in better form at the moment.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets
🇺🇸🗽🍎 US OPEN, SF match preview 🇺🇦 (5) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇺🇸 (8) Serena Williams
A blockbuster semi-final encounter at Flushing Meadows sees the 5th seeded Elina Svitolina come up against 23-time major winner Serena Williams. Svitolina enters this clash full of confidence, the Ukrainian is playing the best tennis of her career right now and will be eager to reach her first Grand Slam final. Svitolina has beaten Williams before but will be coming up against a formidable opponent on Thursday evening, Williams is on a mission and is approaching her best level. Can Svitolina pull off the upset victory?
Elina Svitolina is through to back-to-back Grand Slam semi-finals thanks to some fantastic victories. Svitolina also enters this semi-final clash on the back of some stunning performances. The 5th seed played scintillating tennis to defeat Madison Keys and Johanna Konta in straight sets to advance to the final 4. The consistency and movement of Svitolina overwhelmed Keys and Konta, a pair of big hitters, Svitolina will be hoping to execute a similar game against Williams Svitolina has moved through the entire draw without dropping a set having defeated Whitney Osuigwe, Venus Williams and Dayana Yastremska in straight sets during the first week of the event.
Serena Williams is once again on the verge of capturing that elusive 24th Grand Slam title. Williams is yet to win a major since returning from giving birth despite reaching the later stages on numerous occasions. Williams is seemingly desperate to make this the tournament she goes all the way, the 8th seed enters the semi-final stage on the back of her most dominant performance of the tournament where she thrashed China’s Wang Qiang 6-1 6-0 in a near-flawless display of power hitting. Williams has dramatically improved her level since she played some scratchy tennis in a 3-set win over Caty McNally in the second round, straight set wins over Karolina Muchova and Petra Martic preceded Williams’ domination of Wang.
Williams holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Svitolina. It was Svitolina who won the most recent match between the pair, a 6-4 6-3 victory at the Rio Olympics on a hard court. Much has changed since their last meeting, both are in totally different places right now so it will be interesting to see how this matchup unfolds.
I’m going to go for the upset here and side with Svitolina. It feels like this is Svitolina’s time to breakthrough and claim her first career major title. Svitolina is playing amazing tennis at the moment, her movement and defensive skills are the best on tour and that could spell trouble for Williams. Williams has consistently struggled at this stage of Grand Slams since her return from giving birth, specifically against top level counter-punchers, Svitolina falls into this category. If Svitolina’s serve holds up, she has a great chance at winning this match. Svitolina’s first serve has improved dramatically, if she lands enough first serves and gets involved in enough rallies on the Williams serve she should find a way a fight through this one.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets
🇺🇸🗽🍎 US OPEN, QF match preview 🇺🇦 (5) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇬🇧 (16) Johanna Konta
Elina Svitolina and Johanna Konta will both be aiming to reach a second Grand Slam semi-final in 2019 when they go head-to-head in Tuesday’s first quarter-final at Flushing Meadows. Svitolina and Konta both enter this match in great form, both took down quality opposition in the previous round and will be full of confidence. It is Svitolina who holds a dominant record over the Brit, can the British number 1 flip the script on this occasion?
Elina Svitolina has cruised into her first US Open quarter-final without dropping a set. Svitolina moved through the first week with easy wins over Whitney Osuigwe, Venus Williams and Dayana Yastremska. Svitolina’s most impressive performance came at the fourth round stage where she defeated an in-form Madison Keys 7-5 6-4. Svitolina did not face a single break point against Keys, in fact she wasn’t even taken to deuce in a service game or behind in a service game at any point.
Johanna Konta is through to a third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final, an outstanding effort from the British number 1. Konta’s pathway to the final 8 hasn’t been easy. The 16th seed required 3 sets to get through a tricky opening round matchup with Daria Kasatkina before thrashing Margarita Gasparyan and Shuai Zhang. Konta’s biggest win also came at the fourth round stage where she fought from a set and a break down to defeat the 3rd seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-7 7-5 6-3, a gutsy win by Konta over one of the pre-tournament favourites.
Svitolina holds a perfect 4-0 record over Konta. The most recent meeting between the pair took place at the Rogers Cup last year where Svitolina won 6-3 6-4.
I expect Svitolina to maintain her unbeaten record over Konta. The head-to-head record doesn’t lie, this is a good matchup for Svitolina and a bad matchup for Konta. Svitolina’s tenacity and consistency from the baseline will make life very tough for Konta, especially given how well Svitolina has served of late. If Svitolina serves well then she will win this match, she will win the majority of the baseline exchanges. The 5th seed is currently looking like the player that won the WTA Finals last year, on that form she is so hard to beat. Konta usually stumbles at this stage of a major.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets
🇺🇸🗽🍎 US OPEN, R4 match preview 🇺🇦 (5) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇺🇸 (10) Madison Keys
A blockbuster round of 16 clash at the US Open sees the 5th seeded Elina Svitolina take on the 10th seeded Madison Keys. This is a huge match for both women, Svitolina and Keys are two of the most accomplished players on tour yet to win a Grand Slam, both have what it takes to go all the way. Keys holds a slight 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Svitolina but it was the Ukrainian who came out on top in their most recent match earlier this year, who will prevail in this critical meeting at Flushing Meadows?
Elina Svitolina has cruised through the first week in New York. Svitolina booked her spot in the fourth round with straight set wins over Whitney Osuigwe, Venus Williams and Dayan Yastremska. Importantly Svitolina has played 3 big-hitters so she is very much prepared to face Keys, granted Keys will be her toughest test yet.
Madison Keys is one of the form players on tour right now. Keys is on a 9-match winning streak having arrived in New York fresh from winning the title in Cincinnati. Keys moved through the first week in New York without dropping a set, straight set wins over Misaki Doi, Lin Zhu and Sofia Kenin saw her through to the round of 16. The bad news for Keys is that she was struggling physically during her 6-3 7-5 win over Sofia Kenin, it’s hard to know what to expect from Keys in the next round.
Madison Keys has won 2 of the 3 meetings between the pair, one of which was via retirement. Keys defeated Svitolina at the US Open in 2017, a 3 set victory. Most recently it was Svitolina who prevailed 6-2 1-6 6-1 at the round of 16 stage at the Australian Open earlier this year.
I’m going to side with Svitolina here. Svitolina has cruised through her 3 matches and seems to be in perfect shape heading into the second week of the tournament. Keys may be on a 9-match winning streak but it seems this is where her run comes to an end, Keys was suffering physically in her latest match and seems due for a bad match. This is a bad matchup for Keys, the American generally struggles against the best counter-punchers on tour, Svitolina falls into this category. I don’t think Keys will be able to produce a clinical enough performance to get the better of a rock-solid Svitolina.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Madison Keys in 2 sets
🇺🇸🗽🍎 US OPEN, R2 match preview 🇺🇦 (5) Elina Svitolina vs. 🇺🇸 Venus Williams
The pick of the second round matches on day 3 of the US Open sees the 5th seeded Elina Svitolina take on 2-time former champion Venus Williams. Svitolina has won the last 2 matches between the pair in straight sets, the Ukrainian will head into this match as the favourite but Venus Williams is always a tough opponent at a major and will put a strong fight.
Elina Svitolina hasn’t had the best of seasons by her lofty standards, New York is her final chance in 2019 to capture that elusive Grand Slam singles title. Svitolina made a decent start to the tournament with a 6-1 7-5 win over Whitney Osuigwe. Svitolina may be the 5th seed but she has seemingly flown under the radar heading into this event, Svitolina did reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon a few months ago, a result that should give her the belief that she can go all the way at Flushing Meadows.
The longevity of Venus Williams is simply unprecedented. 18 years after winning her second US Open title the 39-year-old is still able to mix it with the best. Venus made a real statement in her opening match of the event with a 6-1 6-0 demolition of Saisai Zheng. Venus will need to produce a similarly high level against Svitolina if she is to pull off the upset.
Svitolina holds a 2-1 record over Williams. Svitolina has won the last couple of matches between the pair in straight sets, most recently Svitolina won 6-3 6-3 at the opening round stage of Roland Garros earlier this year.
I’m going to side with Svitolina. Svitolina is in the prime of her career whilst Venus is nearing the end, at this stage of their respective careers this is a favourable matchup for Svitolina. Williams struggles against the tours best counter-punchers, she has had poor recent results against players such as Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens, Svitolina falls into this category. Svitolina’s consistency and athleticism should see her through this one without too much drama.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Venus Williams in 2 sets