The penultimate day of the WTA Finals 2019 will see the top two ranked women's tennis players take on each other in the semifinals. When top seed Ashleigh Barty and second seed Karolina Pliskova face each other on Saturday, it will be the first time since 2013 WTA Finals that the two highest ranked players will be facing each other in the tournament. The other semifinal match will be played between the world number eight and defending champion Elina Svitolina and the world number seven Belinda Bencic.
This year's championship has seen its share of bad luck and surprises with Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu signing off in between due to injuries. Kiki Bertens, who came as an alternate for Naomi Osaka, retired from her match against Bencic due to illness. It will be interesting to see how the semifinals turn out and who will move on to the final.
Elina Svitolina vs Belinda Bencic Preview and Prediction
Svitolina reached the semifinals of this year's tournament after registering victories over Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin. She has not dropped a set at Shenzhen and became the first player since Serena Williams in 2013 to do so. The Ukrainian is also looking to chase her second consecutive year-end title, a feat last achieved by Williams.
Even after no title wins this year, the 25-year-old has been in the top 10 rankings with a win loss record of 35-21. She reached five semifinals this year in 21 tournaments. Svitolina has used the abrasive court at Shenzhen to her advantage and has played on defensive tennis over the course of this week. She is now on an eight-match winning streak at the WTA Finals, having won the title last year without losing a single match.
Svitolina's opponent, Belinda Bencic is playing in her maiden WTA Finals and would be happy to have reached this stage. She made it to the semis after her win over Petra Kvitova and also due to the fact that Kiki Bertens retired from their match due to illness. Bencic's loss came against the world number one Barty after putting up a tough fight.
Elina Svitolina vs Belinda Bencic Head-to-Head
In the previous three encounters between the duo, Bencic leads 2-1 over Svitolina. The last match they played against each other was at the 2019 WTA Toronto, where Svitolina registered an easy 6-2, 6-4 win. Bencic's ability to use her opponent's power and Svitolina's talent to chase down the balls and return them with purpose will be something to watch out for in the first clash of the day. However, with the current form of Svitolina, it will be a tough day for Bencic.
Prediction - Svitolina to win in three sets
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova Preview and Prediction
Karolina Pliskova became the last player to make it to the semifinals of the WTA Finals after registering a 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 win over Simona Halep. She has been using her big serves to her advantage and has racked up 474 aces this year. Pliskova has also won four WTA titles, the most by any female player in 2019, with a win loss record of 50-15. Her powerful groundstrokes have been making it difficult for her opponents to defend.
Ashleigh Barty reached the semis with two wins and one loss in the Red Group. Her victories came against Petra Kvitova and Belinda Bencic, while the surprising loss came against first alternate Kiki Bertens. She has the ability to learn the weakness of the opponent and play her game accordingly, which has made it difficult for her opponents to read her game. The 2019 French Open winner has made sure to hold her place as the world number one at the year-end championships.
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova Head-to-Head
Barty and Pliskova have faced off each other five times in the past with the Australian leading 3-2. Their last encounter was at the final of the 2019 Miami Open, where Barty defeated Pliskova to lift her first WTA title of the year.
Prediction - Pliskova to win in three sets.
2019 WTA Finals Semifinals Schedule (2nd November)
Tournament name: 2019 Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen
Category: Year-ending championships
Match 1: Elina Svitolina vs Belinda Bencic (4 PM IST)
Match 2: Karolina Pliskova vs Ashleigh Barty (Approx 5:30 PM IST)
Broadcast: No live telecast in India
Live score: wtafinals.com
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