By Ros Satar, in Singapore

  • Elina Svitolina [6] v Kiki Bertens [8]
  • H2H: 1-1
SINGAPORE – Elina Svitolina has been one of the revelations of the tournament, but she faces a tough challenge in one of the revelations of the year – Kiki Bertens.

 

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Elina Svitolina [6] v Kiki Bertens [8] | H2H: Tied at 1-1

It is remarkable how changed a player Elina Svitolina is one year on from cutting a miserable form at the end of the group stages. Last year we just about got a smile out of her after she beat Simona Halep in the last match and guaranteed Caroline Garcia (who came from a set and a break down to ruin the Ukrainian’s chances to qualify). She quipped she was expecting more than a thank-you from the Frenchwoman who was downed in the semi-final by eventual runner-up Venus Williams.

Fast forward 12 months and she was not coming in with quite as much form as last year (albeit not much in it) and her participation was out of her hands. She in fact quipped at the all-access that she had mentally prepared herself for Zhuhai, so this was a real bonus.

She made the extremely consistent Petra Kvitova look ordinary in her for round-robin match but fought hard against Karolina Pliskova to set herself up for a thriller at the finish. Needing just a set to qualify, but up against a wall that is Caroline Wozniacki.

The first two sets were quality cat and mousing, with Wozniacki getting the upper-hand, but there was a look of determination rarely seen in Svitolina – which might one day mark the focus needed to go all the way at a Slam. She dug in and got that set she needed with a celebration that was probably more akin to winning a Slam.

READ MORE | WTA Finals 2018 | Elina Svitolina calls it her toughest mental battle, reaches semi-finals in Singapore

WTA Finals 2018 | Elina Svitolina calls it her toughest mental battle, reaches semi-finals in Singapore

On the other side of the net will be the charming yet steely Kiki Bertens. Do not let the fact that she is one of the most well-liked players on the tour fool you. For years her clay court credentials were never in doubt, with all her seven titles coming on the dirt. But somewhere this year a switch has flipped, and she has been able to translate her game to the hard courts.

Do these girls deserve to be in the finals? Svitolina addressed the ‘haters’ and those who commented that she had no right to be in this line-up by emerging from the group 3-0. Bertens lost just once, to Sloane Stephens, but even then, made the American work very hard for the win.

READ MORE | WTA Finals 2018 | Kiki Bertens still ‘giving it everything’ as Naomi Osaka retires and she advances to the semi-final

WTA Finals 2018 | Kiki Bertens still ‘giving it everything’ as Naomi Osaka retires and she advances to the semi-final

This is an intriguing match-up and should set the scene well for a battle. Both have an athleticism to turn this into an evenly matched encounter. Bertens plays a pleasing all-round game with great variety, court coverage and will come forward with confidence to finish at the net.

Svitolina has a complete baseline game – consistency has been her watch word for many years now and she can trade both with the power players and those with a little more precision and placement, thanks to her movement around the court, and more importantly her ability to smack winners on the run. Her serve is a lot stronger than it used to be but perhaps Bertens will look to burn her more at the net.

Both have battled a few demons to be here, and both want to win. Svitolina just seems to want, maybe even need this more.

Prediction: Svitolina in three sets.

 

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