WTA Finals Singapore 2018, Day 5: Svitolina completes clean sweep, joins Pliskova in the semi-finals

Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova advanced to the semi-finals of the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore after contrasting wins on the final day of round robin action from the white group. Pliskova confirmed her place in the last four with a straight sets win, 6-3 6-4, over Petra Kvitova. The final match from the group featured Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki with Wozniacki needing to win in straights to knock out Svitolina. Perhaps i’m in a good mood because the weekend is nearly upon us (😃😃😃) but this was by far and away my favourite match of the week.

There have been so many competitive matches this week which has been super to see and hardly surprising with no clear favourites for the title at the start of the week. While competitive, nothing has really gripped me until this match. For me what stood out was Wozniacki and Svitolina both managing to play high quality tennis for the most part, whereas many matches this tournament have featured twists and turns, and inconsistencies with just fleeting moments when two players have been playing well at the same time. Svitolina came from a set down to complete a clean sweep of the white group and beat Wozniacki, 5-7 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 35 minutes.

It was refreshing to watch these two characteristically defensive players both be aggressive. It was actually the decisive factor of the match – the player that was more aggressive and generally dictated was the one that had most success. It was a bit of a surprise to see on this court which generally has favoured defensive play.

Wozniacki started the match in superb form. I’d go as far to say that the first set and a half was the best i’ve seen Wozniacki play all year. It reminded of Singapore last year where she was noticeably aggressive, going after her groundstrokes and taking risks. It was also nice to see Wozniacki look to come forward and this was an effective tactic. The slice winner that Woz hit (see below) after one of the best rallies of the match blew my mind! Svitolina erased Wozniacki’s early break in the first set but ultimately missed too many returns as Wozniacki stepped it up again to win the opener, 7-5.

Svitolina wasn’t playing a bad match by any means. The Ukrainian player remained in the hunt and started to dictate more of the rallies in the second set. Wozniacki began to retreat behind the baseline and show fragility on the forehand side. It was a thrilling and tense finish as we knew that the winner of the second set would decide who would qualify for the semi-finals – perfect for the neutrals and probably hellish for fans of either player! Wozniacki served to stay in the tournament at *5-6 in the second set. Svitolina missed four set points, clearly showing tension, but kept plugging away and eventually sealed the set and a place in the semi-finals on her fifth set point. Cue a wild reaction. It felt more like a match point.

Svitolina scored the lone break of the third set off some Wozniacki backhand errors and with a return winner on break point. Svitolina managed to serve out the match at *5-3, fending off one last aggressive charge from Wozniacki as she saved four break points. Generally it felt like Wozniacki backed off a bit and we didn’t see as many net charges in the second half of the match. Great match and both came away with positive winners to unforced errors which is a rarity on this court.

This was my favourite match from the Wozniacki-Svitolina H2H, which has never really done much for me in the past. I think both players have improved with each match this week. Svitolina’s performance level has been night and day compared to what she’s produced over the last few months. Svitolina has been so determined all week and almost wanting to prove a point. She spoke in her press conference about help from a “mysterious man”! Both press conferences were heavy and newsworthy with Wozniacki revealing that she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis during the US Open. It was the most honest and heartfelt press conference i’ve seen from Wozniacki and it was very refreshing to see her really open up. Now knowing this information, her win in Beijing must have been hugeeee for her.

Svitolina and Pliskova move through to Saturday’s semi-finals where they will play the top two from the red group, which will be decided on Friday. It could be a day for calculators with possible permutations involving the percentage of games. A pair of polls are linked below for the final two round robin matches where Naomi Osaka will take on Kiki Bertens and Sloane Stephens plays Angelique Kerber.

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8 thoughts on “WTA Finals Singapore 2018, Day 5: Svitolina completes clean sweep, joins Pliskova in the semi-finals

  1. Well obviously I’m ecstatic with these results.

    I do have a different take regarding Svitolina’s play though! I think she started the match trying to be *too* aggressive, which is pretty bizarre because in her head to head with Wozniacki, she’s had her best results when she beats her at her own game (same with Kerber and Halep). She was trying to put too much on the first serve, hitting uncharacteristic unforced errors and more annoyingly giving Wozniacki the pace she wanted. It was only when Bettles came down and told her to be more patient in the rallies that she got Caroline flustered.

    I’m curious about what happens in the other group now. Sloane looks solid for a clean sweep to me!

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    • I like your take to be honest! I notice Woz retreating from the middle of the second set and it felt like Svitolina was dictating more of the rallies in the second half of the match.

      I like Sloane for the clean sweep too, she’s always played Kerber well and I think the court suits her. No idea who else qualifies from this group.

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      • Well done Elina, I think she’s in great form now and with a good chance of winning the whole thing. Sorry to see that Caroline’s got rheumatoid arthritis as I’ve always thought she was a nice person, but as far as I know there’s no easy fix for it and it’s something you have to live with and manage as best you can.

        Well done Karo too but it just didn’t happen for Petra at this tournament for some reason.

        I’d go with Sloane for the clean sweep as well as I think she’s playing really well at the moment; she is something of an “up and down” player but at her best she can beat pretty much anybody. I like Kiki but I think Naomi’s going to get a consolation win from the other match.

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      • The winning strategy to beating Wozniacki is to make her uncomfortable. Giving her free points is just no no because then she feels confidant being more aggressive herself. What made Svitolina so good against Kerber/Halep/Wozniacki is that she wasn’t afraid of going toe to toe and extending rallies. Obviously it’s great to want to add to your game, but don’t lose what made you great to begin with!

        I kind of fancy Sloane to win the whole thing. I hope it’s a final between her and Svitolina, because I could see that being an awesome match if both girls play well.

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      • Bertens is the dark horse for me still though. I could see her beating Svitolina. Her slice and drop shots make her absolutely deadly on this court

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      • Not really surprised with Woz’s announcement. I remember asking if Woz was playing injury free during US open. I always felt there was something going that she wasn’t saying in order to help her play. I think she’ll do alright, at least I’m hoping so. She has the potential to play for a long while yet.

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