Photo: WTA Finals
Fans were expecting a week of dazzling tennis, and the WTA Finals Shenzhen didn’t disappoint!
On her very first singles run, World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty captured the title with a final win over defending champion Elina Svitolina. The victory also ensured Barty would end the season at the very top of the rankings and as the first Australian to rule the WTA since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in April 1976.
Here’s how it all went down.
All eyes were on young Bianca Andreescu, who came face to face with her childhood idol Simona Halep in her opening match. At the outcome of their hard-fought battle, Andreescu surrendered in three sets (3-6, 6-7(6), 6-3) in what would be Halep’s only win in China.
In the first set of her match against Karolina Pliskova, the Canadian superstar suffered a knee injury that forced her out of the tournament. Sofia Kenin took her place in the final duel of the round-robin stage.
In the end, Karolina Pliskova (2 wins, 1 loss) and Elina Svitolina (3 wins, 0 losses) qualified for the semis.
The Red Group turned up a few surprises.
After losing her first match against Petra Kvitova, Naomi Osaka was forced to withdraw. Kiki Bertens replaced her and was the only player to find a way to overpower Barty.
Appearing in her seventh WTA Finals, Petra Kvitova posted only losses.
Barty (2 wins, 1 loss) and Belinda Bencic (2 wins, 1 loss) cruised into the next round.
In the semifinals, Svitolina frustrated Bencic, who bowed out in pain in the third set. Her ankle gave out in her first match against Barty and then her back and hamstrings started to cramp up.
As for Barty, she showed Pliskova the door in three sets.
In the final showdown, Barty outmaneuvered Svitolina for the first time in six attempts. The reigning Roland-Garros champion delivered a solid performance to topple her rival.
“It feels like it’s been a year that just hasn’t stopped. It’s been a year of incredible ups and downs—I think more ups than downs. To cap it off with a very, very special night tonight in Shenzhen is really cool,” affirmed Barty after hoisting the winner’s trophy.
For the World No. 1, it was a fantastic ending to an equally fantastic season.
We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store!