By Ros Satar at the Shiseido WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China
- Belinda Bencic  v Elina Svitolina 
- Defending champion seeking her first title of the year
- Bencic won Dubai and sealed her spot in China with her win in Moscow
SHENZHEN, CHINA – Belinda Bencic faces defending champion Elina Svitolina in the semi-final of the WTA Finals.
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Belinda Bencic  v Elina Svitolina  | Bencic leads H2H 2-1
The last-ditch attempt by Belinda Bencic to qualify for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen made it an exciting down-to-the-wire contest between Bencic, Kiki Bertens who appeared as an alternate, and Elina Svitolina, who just nabbed the final spot after Bertens fell in the Moscow semi-final.
As it was, Bencic actually leap-frogged Svitolina with the Moscow title as the pair now go head to head for a spot in the final. For Bencic it has been a gradual improvement in the tournament – it was a tough battle and loss in the opening round to World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, especially after taking the first set.
Although she was visibly disappointed, she has rallied very well to stake her claim in the final four, beating Petra Kvitova in another tough three setter before squaring off against Bertens in a winner-takes-all encounter, advancing after Bertens had to retire.
Looking ahead to the semi-final, Bencic said: “She’s one of the players that this court suits a lot, more the defensive ones. Also she can turn around the rally and turn it into offence. I’m aware of that.
“I think I’ll focus on my game. I’ve reached semifinals. I’m so relaxed already really. I will just play and fight like always. Obviously I’ll focus on my game, trying to be aggressive, all the things that you say to yourself before matches.”
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Svitolina advances not only in straight sets but with another 3-0 record in the round robin making her WTA Finals unbeaten run to nine in a row.
The speed of the court has been especially good for the defending champion – slow and giving her a lot of time on her shots, which for a metronomically consistent shot-maker, it is a match made in heaven. Bencic has good court smarts though, coupled with an ability to take the ball out of the air and solid aggressive play.
Svitolina has certainly been the more efficient out here, but Bencic has nothing at all to lose, and certainly can get a set off the defending champion, but the Ukrainian’s confidence is very high at the moment.
She said, of the match-up: “We know all the game style that she has. She takes the ball quite early, and you have to be ready for this game style. For me the main thing is to recover first, to be fresh tomorrow physically and mentally.”
Prediction: Svitolina in three sets.
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