By Ros Satar, in Singapore

  • Elina Svitolina [6] def. Kiki Bertens [8] 7-5 6-7(5) 6-4
  • Ends the season on a high where 12 months ago she was considering quitting
SINGAPORE – Kiki Bertens’ amazing run at the WTA Finals in Singapore came to an end at the hands of a very focussed and determined Elina Svitolina.

 

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Elina Svitolina [6] def. Kiki Bertens [8] 7-5 6-7(5) 6-4

It was always going to be an intriguing match-up between the would-be alternate Kiki Bertens, who got her bump into the main draw after the World No. 1 Simona Halep had to withdraw before the tournament started, and last year’s debutante Elina Svitolina, who had already decided that she was going to Zhuhai instead so as to save herself the disappointment of not qualifying.

Elina Svitolina in the third round robin match of the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore

Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine celebrates qualifying for the semifinal stage of the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournament

All those thoughts went out the window on both sides after a competitive match finally went the way of the Ukrainian who was making all the running at the start breaking before being pinned back, and then pushing again at the end of the second set to finally close it out.

Bertens was not done yet though, taking the initiative early in the second set and fighting tooth and nail for her chances. She may not have been able to capitalise on her first chance, or indeed three more chances to boot before putting pedal to the metal in the tie-break to give herself a fighting chance.

The third set became more a battle of physical and indeed mental strength as Svitolina nudged just ahead and Bertens just missing out on her chance to break with Svitolina closing out the win.

She said: “I think the beginning, first set and second set, the level was good. It was really close. I was just keep on fighting. I think it was good fighting spirit after all those set points already at 5-4 in the second set, and then I think the third set our level on both sides dropped a little bit, but I was just trying to keep my energy up, trying to keep on going. But in the end, she was just a more stable player.”

Kiki Bertens at the Media All Access day, WTA Finals 2018 Singapore

Kiki Bertens at the Media All Access day, WTA Finals 2018 Singapore | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Bertens has had a couple of tough three-set losses here, but contemplating quitting last year, it has taken a solid year with the Madrid final, and the Cincinnati title to change her perception of her own game.

She said: “Of course they hurt a lot, so it gives better feeling like if you win those kind of matches, of course. But I think it also shows that physically I’m good. I can, like, play against the best players of the world for, like, three hours. Doesn’t matter. I can just keep on going.

“That also shows that even when I’m not playing my best, I can still really compete against this type of player. So, I think it’s a lot of positive things I can take from here.”

So where is her head at now this is officially the end of the season for Bertens, landing in the Top 10 at year end, and how has she kindled her love for the game?

“I think it’s just some small things. I’m just trying to not think about tennis too much. Like off-court, just doing some more fun stuff. Just walk around in the city. Just go for a coffee and do some yoga, as well.

“It’s just more not putting so much pressure about myself, not reading what you guys are writing about me, not watching anything. It’s just like more focus on what I think is important in my life, and of course tennis is a big part of that, but that’s like what I’m doing on court already for so many hours a week, so it’s more like the tennis part I’m doing on court and of course talking with Raemon [Sluiter], but off-court I’m just trying to enjoy life.”

The championship match of the WTA Finals will take place at 7:30pm on Sunday (11:30 GMT).

 

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