By Ros Satar at the Shiseido WTA Finals 2019 in Shenzhen, China
- Elina Svitolina  v Bianca Andreescu 
- Karolina Pliskova  v Simona Halep 
- Sofia Kenin may replace Andreescu after she sustained a knee injury in her second match
SHENZHEN, CHINA – With defending champion Elina Svitolina already qualified and Bianca Andreescu eliminated, it is all eyes on Karolina Pliskova & Simona Halep.
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Elina Svitolina  v Bianca Andreescu  | Andreescu leads H2H 1-0
It will be curious to see how twitter timelines react should Bianca Andreescu take to the court after her dramatic withdrawal in her second round-robin match, where she retired after one set against Karolina Pliskova. Having felt her something in her knee give way in just the third game, Andreescu limped on to the incredulity of all watching before common sense prevailed and she bailed on the match.
However, she could still take to the court if she chooses on Friday, and currently is still in all the documentation. If she chooses not to, then the second alternate, Sofia Kenin would step in for the final match.
Elina Svitolina is through, no matter what happens, but she would dearly love to match last year’s achievement of an unbeaten run that goes all the way back to 2017, where she won her final round robin match against Simona Halep, after two losses.
Last year it was clear she had a point to prove for those who felt she could only win tournaments, and not any of the big titles. This year, she is chasing her first title of this year, despite having made progress in terms of the slams, reaching back to back Slam semi-finals.
The courts have favoured her greatly, and while everyone else has toiled, Svitolina is arguably the most rested of the players for the knock-out stages. If she does face Andreescu in her injured state, she can try and exact some revenge for her defeat at Indian Wells and continue to rack up the points and the prize money.
Things are a little tighter between Svitolina and Kenin, with the head to head split at 2-2 all in matches this year.
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Karolina Pliskova  v Simona Halep  | Halep leads H2H 7-3
After the thrills and spills of permutations from Day Five, we have just one match where it all comes down to this – and with Simona Halep leading their head to head quite convincingly, it will come down to who best can handle the slow court.
Of the two of them, Halep is probably the one who can adapt the best to a slower and more unpredictable surface than Pliskova, who will have to rely on her serve more than anything to get free points, rather than her proficiency of getting things back.
Halep has a more natural tendency to be able to run things down all day long, so what we can expect is a bit more of a war of attribution. Pliskova admitted she was expecting long rallies on Friday, and Halep’s key is to be relentless in making Pliskova move.
Darren Cahill has been urging Halep to do drop shots and come in for drive volleys and we have seen how effective those have been, even if she did lose to Svitolina in the last match. Halep should be the overwhelming favourite to deny Pliskova a third straight semi-final at the season-ending finale.
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
Svitolina & Andreescu are scheduled not before 6:30pm (10:30am GMT), Pliskova & Halep are scheduled not before 8pm (12pm GMT).
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