By Ros Satar, in Singapore

  • Elina Svitolina [6] def. Sloane Stephens [5] 3-6 6-2 6-2
  • Svitolina projected to rise to World No. 4 with the title
SINGAPORE – Elina Svitolina let her tennis do the talking, to answer her critics as she battled her way to the WTA Finals title, beating Sloane Stephens in three sets.

 

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Elina Svitolina [6] def. Sloane Stephens [5] 3-6 6-2 6-2

Sloane Stephens and Elina Svitolina WTA Finals 2018, Singapore

Sloane Stephens and Elina Svitolina WTA Finals 2018, Singapore | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The two most dominant players of this year’s BNP Paribas WTA Finals, presented by SC Global, Sloane Stephens and Elina Svitolina were the perfect characters to bring the curtain down on the WTA’s season-ending stage.

Both finished top of their respective groups, winning all three matches in the group stage, and came through thrilling and gruelling semi-finals in equal measure.

The final was no different, as the court played its part in the lifetime of the tournament in its time in Singapore. It was Stephens quickest off the mark, swiftly jumping out to a 3-0 lead.

Svitolina strived to get the break back but could not find a way through the Stephen’s defence, and found herself having to fend off more breakpoints, as well as seeing two more chances come and go. The single break was all that Stephens needed to take the first set.

We have witnessed Svitolina’s fighting spirit several times in this tournament, and she came out on top of a flurry of three breaks in a row but made sure of her position by breaking Stephens to level the match.

Into an inevitable decider and it was Svitolina’s turn to steal a march on the early exchanges, going 3-0 up and looking like she was going to outlast Stephens. A brief plot twist with Stephens breaking back got the crowds back up on their feet again, but Svitolina crushed that little spark of spirit, before consolidating her break back to lead 5-2.

Almost fittingly she went for a sprint at the finish, breaking Stephens whose wide backhand saw Svitolina fall back on to the floor, as she won the biggest title of her career.

 

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Svitolina: ‘I have nothing to prove to anyone anymore’

Elina Svitolina winning the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore

Elina Svitolina winning the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Svitolina has made no secret of the fact that she has been well aware of what has been said about her from her detractors, and if anything it has been a completely motivating factor  and she delivered her message in the best emphatic way.

She said, after the match: “I think I have nothing to prove anymore to anyone. Yeah, that’s definitely good statement for myself and good boost of — can’t say confidence, because confidence is — I try to have the confidence, you know, as in myself always. And to have it is my personality.

“I think for me it’s just — third set really showed that, you know, I was mentally just tough. That’s what made the difference.”

“I just told myself I’m not gonna step back and just gonna fight for every ball, not going to give any opportunity to her and just gonna be very, very tough. I think this is what willed me to do it today.”

 

Stephens: ‘People are always going to talk shit about you, no matter what’

Elina Svitolina (r) and Sloane Stephens (l) pose with the trophies after the WTA Finals, Singapore 2018

Elina Svitolina (r) and Sloane Stephens (l) pose with the trophies after the WTA Finals, Singapore 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

While she was bitterly disappointed to just fall short at the finish line, she has reversed her voodoo in Asia, and beaten a lot of the players who were the favourites to advance instead of her.

She said: “I thought she played well. Obviously it was a tough match from the very beginning. Sometimes it just kind of happens that way, but I think she played good, well-deserved match. And, you know, not even knowing if I was going to qualify here and everything that happened towards the end I was just really excited to be
here and excited to compete with everybody. I thought I did really well this whole week, a lot to be proud of.”

Stephens has won Miami, reached the Roland Garros final, reached the Montreal final and now the WTA Finals championship match, when many thought she would either never amount to anything despite her obvious talent, or would never be able to replicate her New York success. She continued to be defiant towards her own critics.

She continued: “I think it takes a long time to accept that people are always going to talk shit about you, like no matter what you do, you could win five slams, 12 slams, whatever, one slam, no slams – it’s still going to be people are going to talk really badly about you.

“Sometimes it’s going to hurt your feelings, and some things are just not true and inaccurate and have no base, but that’s the world we live in. We live in a world of free speech, and you can say whatever you want to say and be on Twitter or whatever and harass people or whatever.

“But I think for me it took a long time to just be ‘Yo, that has nothing to do with anything.’ Like if I’m happy with what’s going on and if I’m happy with my results — obviously I made four finals this year, I lost three of them but to really great players, and I tried my butt off.

“And people are out there, like, Oh, my God, she shouldn’t have even made it to those finals. Whatever. Yeah, okay, but I did. So how about that? So it is what it is, but like I said, if you’re proud of what you’re doing and you’re happy with it, then snaps to you.”

 

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