WTA Finals 2018: Semi-final preview and prediction
- Here's an in-depth preview of the WTA Finals semi-finals, scheduled to be held on Saturday. Find out who are the favourites.
The 2018 WTA Finals has been a strange tournament so far, where the top 4 seeds have all exited and the lower seeds have qualified for the semi-finals. In a way, it’s also reflective of the nature of women’s tennis at the moment, where there is not one dominant player or a group of dominant players, similar to the Big 3 in men’s tennis. No wonder the four Grand Slams of 2018 saw 4 different winners on the women’s side, with 3 new champions.
Of the four Grand Slam winners, three had made it to the WTA season-ending Finals in Singapore, with the world number 1 Simona Halep dropping out from it, due to injury. As things stand now, the other three Grand Slam winners – Angelique Kerber, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and the young Naomi Osaka – along with Petra Kvitova have all bit the dust.
Instead of the top four seeds, it’s the bottom four seeds who have marched on to the semi-final stage. Though it is disappointing to see all the top seeds exit, it in no way means that the two semi-finals are going to be bereft of quality or excitement. Here is a look at the way the two semi-finals may pan out.
Semi Final 1: Elina Svitolina Vs Kiki Bertens
The first semi-final will be played between the two debutantes, who are also the lowest seeds in the tournament. It’s possibly a semi-final match up that not many expected. But they have both been mighty impressive this year, and have carried forward that momentum to this year-end tournament.
Kiki Bertens, especially, has had a dream year so far in which she bagged her biggest title at Cincinnati, beating four top-10 players in the process, including her semi-final opponent at WTA Finals – Elina Svitolina.
Unlike Bertens, Svitolina has been a top-10 player for quite some time now. The Ukrainian has had an up-and-down season so far. But her performance in the WTA Finals has been nothing short of electrifying.
She has felled all the three higher seeds in her group, and she now comes to the semi-finals full of belief and determination. It will be difficult for Bertens to get past a determined Svitolina, even though the Dutch may be able to take a set off the Ukrainian.
Prediction: Svitolina to triumph in 3 Sets
Semi Final 2: Sloane Stephens Vs. Karolina Pliskova
Sloane Stephens is undoubtedly the biggest tennis star coming out of the USA after the incomparable Williams sisters. She possesses what can be termed as ‘easy power’. When she plays her shots, she does not seem like bursting her lungs out like so many of her peers, and yet manages to hit ferocious shots at high speed, with great precision.
The 2017 US Open champion may have had a rather inconsistent 2018 season, but a remarkable aspect about her is that when she gets deep into any tournament, she becomes an almost unstoppable force. This is the reason her career is dotted with early round losses and final appearances, and not much in between. In this tournament, she has been focussed from the word go, and has swept away all the three players who came before her.
Her opponent in the semi-final is the hard-hitting Czech Karolina Pliskova. She has been a former world number 1 and when her radar is on, she can blast her opponents off the court with her powerful game. Unfortunately for her, there is a lot less margin to her game. She usually hits hard and flat shots; so when a match gets tight, she is prone to making a lot of unforced errors.
It is expected that Sloane will get past Pliskova, without much difficulty.
Prediction: Sloane Stephens to win in straight setsPublished 26 Oct 2018, 22:27 IST