Play begins for the Purple Group on Monday, Day 2 of the WTA Finals. Bianca Andreescu, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, and Elina Svitolina will begin their campaigns for the WTA Year End title, and their share of the enormous $14 million prize money. Not only will the champion claim an amazing $4.7 million prize, they’ll add at least 750 points to their ranking. With close contenders for the World #1 spot, it’s clearly a boon for this elite tournament’s winner.
Here’s a look at Monday’s matches and predictions for who’ll win the first round robins in the Purple Group.
WTA Finals Day 2 Predictions
Karolina Pliskova vs Elina Svitolina
Head to head: Pliskova 5-3 Svitolina
The ninth meeting of Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina has the two battling in the Purple Group’s opening round. After eight meetings, it’s clear that these two are familiar with each other’s game. Svitolina is the defending titleholder still looking for her first title of 2019. Pliskova has won more titles in 2019 than any other player, lifting the trophies in Brisbane, Rome, Eastbourne and Zhengzhou.
Pliskova is a powerful player capable of hitting anyone off the court. Yet, we’ve seen the Czech’s serve go askew or forehands fail to find their mark. It will be important for the lefty to start strong, with balls finding their mark. It seems Pliskova can play her best when it matters most as evidenced by her five final appearances, her 2019 Australian Open run and her four titles.
Elina Svitolina is not threatened by power players. Rather, the Ukrainian is capable of retrieving nearly any shot and working her way back into points which would leave most player stymied. Undoubtedly, it hasn’t been the year Svitolina had hoped for. Title-less after five semifinal appearances must extract a mental toll. Down to the wire, this is Svitolina’s last chance to claim a 2019 title.
Svitolina has great hands and won’t be afraid to come to the net. It will allow the 2018 champion to end points on her terms. Opening up the court and using her backhand down the line gives Svitolina a clear path to victory. Furthermore, Svitolina’s ability to keep the ball in play will frustrate Pliskova who prefers to end points with her power. If Svitolina can maintain her mental fortitude, she’ll chalk up the win.
Prediction: Svitolina in 3
Bianca Andreescu vs Simona Halep
Head to head: First meeting
The US Open winner will meet the Wimbledon winner, in the Purple Group’s opening day. Interestingly, both Andreescu and Halep confirmed their spots on September 30th.
Bianca Andreescu has been nothing short of unstoppable, hence reaching her maiden WTA Final. Starting the year ranked World #152, the Canadian phenom now holds the #6 spot. Andreescu has won three of the biggest hard court tournaments: Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup, and the US Open. The 19-year-old owns one of the most diverse games in the WTA tour. It seems there is no shot outside this rising star’s capabilities. Power, placement, slice, spin, loft and drop shots – opponents never know what to expect of the Andreescu racquet. The only thing they know is the Canadian teenager can fight through any match. She’s pulled out a win when down a set and with match points against her. An uncanny ability to shift momentum and battle has landed this young star in this most prestigious tournament.
Simona Halep’s in form start to 2019 saw her reach the finals in Doha and Madrid. Yet, the Romanian superstar found defeat in the most unlikely situations. American teen phenom ended Halep’s French Open title defense in the quarterfinals. How did the spunky Romanian respond? By lifting the title at Wimbledon. A cagy player, Halep can retrieve well and return with craft.
It’s an interesting match up between two players without any history. Meeting for the first time in Shenzhen will challenge both. Halep’s stellar defense against Andreescu’s strategic variety ensures a popcorn match for viewers. I give the edge to Andreescu who learns and adjusts as matches progress.
Prediction: Andreescu in 3
Main Photo from Getty.