It was only fitting that the 2018 WTA Finals would finish with another gruelling three setter. Ten of the 15 matches in Singapore this week have gone the distance in what has been a week of close, competitive matches. It was Elina Svitolina who triumphed on Sunday, beating Sloane Stephens in the final, 3-6 6-2 6-2 in two hours and 23 minutes.
In stark contrast to Saturday’s semi-final, Stephens was fast out of the blocks. The American played a great opening set as she constantly sought out the forehand wing and was aggressive for the most part. Stephens’s groundstrokes were especially heavy and Svitolina, who made a slow start, struggled to deal with them early doors.
Stephens’s coach reiterated after the first set that she needed to stay on it. That didn’t really happen as she became increasingly static at the baseline. Svitolina looked to come forward more in the second set and was rewarded for her positivity by leveling up at one set all. The third set was a real attritional affair with the pair slugging it out in some titanic baseline rallies. You couldn’t fault the commitment from either player. I liked Svitolina’s court position as she tried to stay up on the baseline. Stephens had a brief resurgence after talking out her frustration with the coach but couldn’t keep this going as a resolute Svitolina prevailed for her biggest title.
I’m really happy for Svitolina who has endured a pretty rough second half to the season. Her form on the WTA tour has been mostly superb over the last two years but it’s been at the biggest events, notably the Slams, where she has struggled to make an impact. This was a huge win for Svitolina and I felt that she was trying hard to be more positive in the final two sets, both in her attitude and game plan. She held her nerve at the end and this should surely give her bundles of confidence going forward into 2019.
For Stephens, I thought she was fantastic in the opening set but was unable to maintain the high level as she ran out of steam towards the end. Still, a great tournament and wonderful sportswomanship from Stephens at the end. She was so classy in her speech with praising Svitolina.
The final press conferences were posted on the WTA Facebook page. Stephens was mostly positive in her press conference and spoke about overcoming negative comments on social media. I expected Svitolina to be more cheery in her press conference?! It must have been an exhausting week. Svitolina spoke about her intensity and mental toughness being key to the win. She discussed needing a few weeks to sort things out with her health and to talk with Andrew Bettles about finding a new permanent coach.
That’s a wrap on Singapore 2018! It’s been a great venue for the WTA Finals and i’m sad to see it move on. There’s still one final week left of the 2018 WTA tour with the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai. Normally I end my blogging season at Singapore but I just adore the line-up so will be following Zhuhai this year. There probably won’t be a post on Tuesday (BAKE OFF FINAL) but otherwise I plan to blog for the week before wrapping up for the year with the Best of 2018 series.