2018 champion Elina Svitolina had to stave off a tough challenge from Karolina Pliskova to win secure a 7-6(12), 6-4 win at the WTA Finals 2019 held at Shenzhen Bay Sports Center on Monday. The victory gave her a sixth consecutive win at this tournament.
This was the second time they met in the year’s final tournament, with the defending champion defeating Pliskova in three sets last season. They hadn't met since then, making their eighth showdown critical.
The opening game saw Svitolina lead the way, but an error at 40-30 brought Pliskova to deuce where she gained a break point and converted it right away. A service hold consolidated the break, thus opening up a 2-0 lead on the Ukrainian. The 25-year-old managed to hold serve on her second try, but the drop of serve left Pliskova open to dictate her own game.
Svitolina dug in defensively that awarded her the break back in the fourth game to even the score. The world number eight then took the lead in the fifth game after displaying some strong offense. The tall Czech matched the defending champion that led to holds of serve from both sides of the net, leading to 5-5. The set eventually reached a tie-break, where they traded off points until a rare error from the world number two gave Svitolina a set point. She couldn’t put the Czech away, giving her time to dictate with the ball on the return to stay alive.
They reached a 12-all situation, where an error from Pliskova set up a seventh set point for Svitolina, who took the victory on a great crosscourt winner, ending 63 minutes of play.
The battle from the tie-break rolled over into the opening game of the second set, where Svitolina forced deuce, spanning five breaks. She drew an error from the Czech that gave her the break before she scored a serve to love. The former world number one was, however, still not ready to go away and broke back in the fourth game.
But Svitolina kept trying harder and harder and was finally successful. Producing break points continuously added pressure on Pliskova, who faltered on serve to give the defending champion the lead back. Svitolina made no mistake and remained firm to hold her serve that pushed her closer to the victory.
But Pliskova wouldn’t allow her to end it in the ninth game, leaving the 2018 champion to do it herself. The 25-year-old did just that, putting the touch on serve that gave her a match point. She finished her day in 1 hour and 53 minutes when a return from Pliskova went into the net.