After two sets of matches in the white group, all four players remain in contention to qualify for Saturday’s semi-finals. The day featured another pair of three setters. I’m pleased to see two more competitive matches, but it was another struggle to catch up with the matches and even more so with the Bake Off! Thankfully WTA TV updated much quicker today. Read on for reviews of both matches from Tuesday at the WTA Finals in Singapore.
Caroline Wozniacki d. Petra Kvitova, 7-5 3-6 6-2
Wozniacki snapped a run of four straight losses against Kvitova to record her first win of the tournament. There were plenty of twists and turns through the first two sets and overall it was a pretty good match. It’s never quite the same watching back a match when you already know the result! Wozniacki edged a tight opener, showing resilience by bouncing back from missing set points at *5-3, then saving a break point at *5-5 before breaking for the set with Kvitova playing an error-strewn final game.
Kvitova played her best tennis of the tournament so far from 3-3 in the second set with a barrage of winners as she noticeably looked to come forward. The Czech player sealed the set on a gorgeous sliced winner. At the end of the second set, I thought Kvitova had the momentum and would go onto win. That wasn’t the case at all as Kvitova became increasingly hesitant to come forward and looked a step slow in her footwork. Kvitova looked gassed after some brutal rallies early on in the third set. Again, there was a sense of the long season catching up with Kvitova.
Wozniacki was absolutely rock-solid in all departments, landing 73% of first serves in during the third set and giving very little away. Kvitova spoke in her press conference about struggling to return Wozniacki’s serve and commented how deep the second serve was. Wozniacki looked a little glum at the start of her press conference but opened up with some decent questions. She spoke about the knee, which she took a medical time-out for, and said that it has been ongoing issue for a few years now.
Elina Svitolina d. Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 2-6 6-3
The unpredictability that has dominated the last few months on the WTA tour has naturally continued into Singapore where arguably the most out-of-form player has been the most impressive so far! Svitolina delivered a confident display to beat Pliskova. The stats demonstrated that it was a high quality match although it didn’t really excite me. Svitolina had a great intensity and was so pumped up. Svitolina saved six break points in a ten deuce game at 1-1 in the first set. This was pretty much the clincher for the first set as Pliskova played a horrid game to drop her serve midway though. Svitolina returned the favour in the second with Pliskova breaking to love and playing a near-perfect set to level up.
Somewhat reminiscent of the Kvitova-Wozniacki match, Pliskova had the momentum but lost it all with a shaky opening game in the third set. Svitolina ran with it, playing some of her best tennis of the match with a couple of wow winners to go up 4-0. Pliskova did fight back, yet Svitolina had cushioned her lead nicely and it was enough for a really great win.
I thought Svitolina was much more positive in her tactics compared to her first match against Kvitova and she served very well. Svitolina spoke in her first press conference about proving the haters wrong and she seems spurred on this week to end the season on a high. Pliskova looked a little flat, perhaps tiredness which she spoke about in her pre-tournament press conference having done a lot of travelling over the last few weeks. Still, she didn’t play a bad match ending with a positive winners to unforced errors differential. It’s all still up for grabs in the white group…
White group qualification scenarios
All four players remain in the hunt for qualification from the white group. Kvitova’s only chance of reaching the semi-finals is to win in straights and then rely on Wozniacki beating Svitolina. Pliskova just needs to win, while Wozniacki could still go out even if she beats Svitolina.
The second set of matches from the red group on Wednesday will see Angelique Kerber take on Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens play Kiki Bertens.