By Ros Satar at the Shiseido WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China
- Simona Halep  v Elina Svitolina  | H2H tied at 4-4
- Karolina Pliskova  v Bianca Andreescu  | Andreescu leads H2H 1-0
SHENZHEN, CHINA – Elina Svitolina continues her hunt for hardware this season, but will we see a second alternate come into play?
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Simona Halep  v Elina Svitolina  | H2H tied at 4-4
Experience and consistency saw reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and defending WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina come through their respective first-rounds. Halep had to battle and claw her way from a set down against Bianca Andreescu, but Svitolina continued her current winning streak against Karolina Pliskova for a straight sets win – the only match that has not gone the distance in the singles so far this week.
Their head to head at a main draw level could not be any closer – tied at 4-4 with just an extra win for Halep at the lower tiers of Fed Cup, back in 2014. Given both of their famed retrieval skills, it is actually a surprise that not more of their matches have gone the distance – only three matches and two of them on clay.
Halep probably comes into this match just a little colder – since Wimbledon she has struggled with form and against injury and needed quite a lot of encouragement from returning coach Darren Cahill.
Svitolina certainly starts marginally the favourite for this, as she bids to snap Halep’s two-match winning streak against her. Both play aggressive tennis, and Halep will really need to mix things up as she started to do against Andreescu to keep the pressure on Svitolina.
However, the Ukrainian looks a lot more settled, and maybe that additional match fitness from the Asian swing will get her over the line.
Prediction: Svitolina in three sets.
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Karolina Pliskova  v Bianca Andreescu  | Andreescu leads H2H 1-0
The real question tomorrow evening will be the state of Andreescu’s back. Having made such a splash this year, it is worth remembering that even as early as Indian Wells, Andreescu was taped up to the nines and her very reduced schedule kept her in winning ways so maybe this was a real test for her this time around.
The back looked sore as the third set progressed and she was moving gingerly in press, so Pliskova will have to look to make her move a lot as she certainly has it within herself to rip return winners and keep the points short.
Neither player will particular be fond of a slower court, and it will come down to who can adapt their game better. Pliskova will need to take her chances and hope that Andreescu’s range of motion is a little curtailed. Dragging it out to three sets might just tip the scales in her favour.
Prediction: Pliskova in three sets.
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