???? 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.