By Ros Satar, in Singapore

  • Elina Svitolina [6] def. Kiki Bertens [8] 7-5 6-7(5) 6-4
  • Will play Sloane Stephens in the final on Sunday
SINGAPORE – Elina Svitolina continues to battle her demons after coming through a tough three setter against Kiki Bertens to book final spot.

 

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

Kiki Bertens in the first round robin match at the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore

Kiki Bertens in the first round robin match at the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore | Jimmie48 Tennis Photgraphy

It was another tough battle to start the semi-finals with Elina Svitolina winning the physical and mental fight against Kiki Bertens.

It was a competitive start by both players, but first blood was not far away after the first change of ends. Svitolina, looking very focussed was the first to break, but Bertens was not here to make up the numbers, breaking back straight away.

There was very little between them for the next four games, but with Svitolina certainly looking the more aggressive of the two, the first set point chance came and went for the Ukrainian. She did not long to wait with another chance to break for the set, this time taking it comfortably.

Bertens did well to keep her nerve, breaking in the first game of the second set in what turned out to be a competitive battle with no margin for any breaks until Bertens passed up on a chance to break for the set at 5-4, watching three more break points in the next game come and go before she herself was broken.

The tie-break was a different affair, as she got back on terms after an initial mini-break and stayed out in front to level up the match.

Nerves were evident for both at the start of the third set, exchanging breaks for the first three games, but it was Svitolina that came out on top with an advantage she did not lose despite Berten’s best efforts at the end, having two break points before Svitolina got a foothold to serve it out on her first match point.

Elina Svitolina in the first round robin match at the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore

Elina Svitolina in the first round robin match at the WTA Finals 2018, Singapore | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

There has been a definite swagger to Svitolina and she revealed she has been working hard on her mental attitude which seems to be paying off as she has a chance to compete for the biggest title of her career.

She said, after the match: “I think physically I was a little bit stronger maybe, mentally a little bit pushed myself a little bit more. It’s tough to say, because I think only few points decided the third set, because we both was playing good tennis.

“Okay, okay, there was up-and-down, but it’s kind of expected because, you know, it’s semi-final of the Championships. I have to accept you have to move forward. You know, I was very happy the way I could come back and into the match, because losing second set, you know, I had my chances. Then losing that second game in the third set where, you know, I was just struggling a little bit, and then bounced back straightaway, this, I think, made the big difference.”

She has always been a consistent player but has come under criticism for maybe never really stretching out of that comfort zone. She has won big titles but that has never really translated to the Slams.

However, in this environment going toe-to-toe with the World’s best players, she seems to have found an unprecedented level of focus.

She continued: “I worked on mental toughness, and that’s pretty much what helped me to go through the Wozniacki match and today’s match. Every match here, starting from Kvitova to definitely I had to stay really, really strong, because I lost many times against her, and opening match definitely I didn’t want to start the same way as I started last year, so I had to be there and, you know, play my best game.

“So far I’m playing great. But the job is not done yet. So tomorrow is gonna be another challenge, and I want to play the same level.”

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

 

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