After a great week of tennis, the final at the WTA Elite Trophy is set. Both Kiki Bertens, the top seed in Zhuhai, and Aryna Sabalenka, recently the champion at the Wuhan Open, have played some excellent tennis to come through the round robin and the knockout stage. But who will claim the title?
WTA Elite Trophy Final Prediction
Kiki Bertens vs Aryna Sabalenka
Head-to-head: Bertens 4-1 Sabalenka
Bertens has played well all week in Zhuhai, recovering from the disappointment of missing out on the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in impressive fashion. In the group stage, the Dutchwoman was imperious, beating young guns Donna Vekic and Dayana Yastremska without dropping a set to qualify for the semifinals. But her level dropped in the last four and she had to battle hard for her win, ultimately edging out home hope and 12th seed Zheng Saisai, 2-6 6-3 6-4.
Make no mistake, Bertens will need to raise her level in the final. But it seems fitting that she is one of the last two players standing at the WTA Elite Trophy. The disappointment of missing the chance to challenge for the French Open title on her favoured clay after being forced to retire with illness in the second round has clearly affected Bertens. But that should not detract entirely from the good season she has put together. In 2019, Bertens won the Madrid Open and reached four further finals.
Sabalenka, meanwhile, surely wishes she could play all her matches in Asia. If she did, she would surely be ranked inside the world’s top five, such is her record on the continent. Although her season has failed to live up to expectations, particularly at the Grand Slams, she has rallied in recent weeks during a productive Asian swing, highlighted by her aforementioned defence of her title at the Wuhan Open. And she has continued that solid form at the WTA Elite Trophy.
She opened her campaign in the group stage with a 6-3 6-4 win over Maria Sakkari, before beating Elise Mertens in a three-set thriller, 6-3 4-6 7-5, to book her place in the semifinals. There she faced Karolina Muchova, who has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign and won the Korea Open in September. It proved to be a close contest, but Sabalenka maintained her composure throughout and was able to play her best tennis when it mattered most, scoring a 7-6 7-6 win as a result.
It is Bertens who has historically had the edge in this rivalry and she leads the head-to-head 4-1. But Sabalenka may well feel confident about her chances in spite of that. She did, after all, beat Bertens 6-1 7-6 on her way to the title in Wuhan late last month. Indeed, Bertens best hope may be that Sabalenka has a bad day at the office. But such has been the Belarusian’s form throughout the Asian swing, it is hard to see that happening, although Bertens does have the quality to ensure it won’t be entirely one-sided.
Prediction: Sabalenka in 3
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