02 November 2019

WTA Finals: Ashleigh Barty to play Elina Svitolina for WTA Finals crown

World No 1 Ashleigh Barty completed a sensational comeback against Karolina Pliskova to reach the final of the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

The 23-year-old looked as she was going to be on the receiving end of another Pliskova masterclass, like the one the Czech played yesterday against Simona Halep, but she recovered to win 4-6 6-2 6-3.

Barty had to save three break points in the opening game, as Pliskova showcased a brilliant level and looked to be in top form and fitness.

The Czech had four further break points she did not convert before an error from the Australian handed her the all important advantage. Pliskova’s greater consistency, and getting 77% of her first serves in, allowed her to win the first set.

All week, Pliskova has not won the second set in her matches and after Barty saved four break points with some clutch play in the third game, Pliskova was broken twice to take the match into a decider. The year-end world number one showcased incredible defence to withstand the power of Pliskova.

Barty has only lost six times in three-set matches this year and her counter-punching qualities brought her closer to a 19th win in a three-set match in 2019.

Pliskova saved two match points when Barty was serving for the match, but the Australian now has the chance to cap off a brilliant season with this coveted WTA Finals title. This is also Barty’s first appearance at the year-ending championships.

Elina Svitolina will play for a second straight WTA Finals crown after her Swiss opponent Belinda Bencic retired due to cramping.

Elina Svitolina last lost at the WTA Finals in 2017, after going unbeaten last year to win the title (PA Images)

The defending champion was leading 5-7 6-3 4-1 when Bencic went to shake hands, which was disappointing for Bencic because of the great start she made.

Bencic was leading the first with a break to lead 4-2 but she received treatment on her right hamstring in a medical timeout at 6-5 ahead.

Bencic did break serve to win the first set but continuous visits from the trainer over the remainder of the match means she was behind Svitolina from the second set.

Svitolina, who is now unbeaten in ten matches at the WTA Finals, hit 37 winners and only made 20 unforced errors in the semi-final.

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