Ashleigh Barty finished 2019 with a bang at the WTA Finals on Sunday. The Australian took her powerful winners that beat Elina Svitolina in straight sets, 6-4,6-3 at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center in the final. It was the World No.1's first-ever win against the Ukrainian.
This was the sixth time the two met with a cash prize never seen before in tennis history. The amount above of four million dollars was in reach for Barty who needed a stellar performance to hold off the defending champion Svitolina.
Eight months ago, at Indian Wells, the two got into a heavily contested match where a thrilling first set tie-break set the stage for a three-setter that Svitolina won. With all their meetings going the way of the Ukrainian and the fact that she had won all ther matches at the tournament, the 25-year-old had the potential of becoming the first woman in six years to defend the title successfully.
Barty began the match with a great hold in the opening game. Svitolina followed suit but couldn’t bring the same energy her Australian opponent did. The two continued putting away quick games on serve until the ninth when Svitolina drew errors. Barty reached her chance to put the game away, but the 25-year-old forced a deuce. Through four breaks, she denied Barty the AD point twice, but stopping a third wasn’t in the cards.
Barty struggled to gain leverage during Svitolina’s service game, yet found a way to force deuce. The Australian dug in to create AD points and keep Svitolina from any that brought the first to a close in 44 minutes. The winners for the 23-year-old assisted in most of her strong service games, where they totaled 19 to Svitolina’s six. Despite having a similar number of unforced errors to winners, the Australian had an important edge on the defending champion.
The two held serve to begin the second until a sudden sea change occurred in favor of the Ukrainian. She consolidated the hold in the second with a break of Barty but the success was short-lived. Barty broke back in the fourth that was a note for Svitolina to call down coach Andrew Bettles during the changeover. He urged Svitolina for positivity and hard shots on the backside to counteract.
It didn’t work out as Barty held the fifth and consolidated for the double break on Svitolina. The 2018 champion broke back to stay within reach but couldn’t hold things together on serve in the eighth. The Ukrainian used two challenges to get her level with Barty and despite forcing deuce, the AD point couldn’t stay with the defending champion.
Errors were a major factor in her downfall that gave the 23-year-old triple breakpoints to set up her moment of glory. Giving nothing on serve in the ninth, Barty flew through Svitolina with three winners before the championship point. The match came to a close on a ball into the net from the 25-year old to hand Barty the title.