BSP-14 Svitolina outlasts Bencic to keep WTA Finals title defence alive

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ZCZC

BSP-14

TENNIS-WTA-SHENZHEN

Svitolina outlasts Bencic to keep WTA Finals title defence alive

SHENZHEN, China, Nov 2, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – An indefatigable Elina Svitolina
came from behind to outlast a hobbled Belinda Bencic in a gruelling semi-
final on Saturday, continuing her dogged quest to defend her WTA Finals
title.

The world number eight worked over an ailing Bencic with a comeback 5-7, 6-
3, 4-1 victory in one hour and 50 minutes at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre.
The Swiss struggled with a right leg injury from late in the first set but
gamely fought on before calling it a day.

She was the third player to retire mid-match in the tournament following
the withdrawals of Kiki Bertens and Bianca Andreescu. World number three
Naomi Osaka withdrew from the year-ender before her second match against
Ashleigh Barty.

Svitolina will play the winner of the second semi-final between Barty and
Karolina Pliskova — the top two ranked players in the world.

The Ukrainian did not lose a set in the round-robin phase and remains on
track to claim a maximum prize of US $4.725 million — the highest pay cheque
in tennis history.

“It’s very tough for her,” Svitolina said. “I’m going to leave everything
on the court (in the final) to try to raise the cup again.”

Both players came out firing in a high-quality opening and traded winners
but it was the Swiss who impressed with her aggressive approach.

Bencic’s freewheeling paid off when a blistering backhand return winner
captured the break in the sixth game. But she couldn’t capitalise on serve
and then later in the set required medical attention on her right hamstring.

Bencic seemed rejuvenated from the treatment and immediately pounced on a
loose Svitolina service game in the 12th game to claim the set emphatically
with a backhand winner down the line.

Svitolina rediscovered her potent counterpunch in the second set and hit
the lines to move around an increasingly frustrated Bencic, who was hampered
by her troublesome right leg.

Svitolina cruised through the set to draw level and her momentum continued
until Bencic pulled the pin.

The 25-year-old is hoping to end a barren season on a high having not
captured a title since last year’s triumph in Singapore.

BSS/AFP/ARS/2000 hrs