This year’s WTA Finals just highlight the toll professional tennis takes on its athletes. After retiring on Wednesday in her match against Karolina Pliskova, Bianca Andreescu has announced her withdrawal from the tournament. A knee injury prevented the young Canadian from continuing. And, an MRI confirmed the severity of the injury. Perhaps the very short “off season” will allow the 19-year-old some much needed rest and rehabilitation. Andreescu joins Naomi Osaka in withdrawing from this prestigious tournament. A boon for American Sofia Kenin, the second alternate to see action in Shenzhen. She will play but a single match with no opportunity to move into semifinal competition.
Ashleigh Barty has secured her semifinal bid after defeating Karolina Pliskova 6-4 6-2. And Belinda Bencic will join her in this round after alternate Kiki Bertens was forced to retire due to illness.
In the Purple Group, Elina Svitolina has remained undefeated. The defending champion has secured her semifinal bid and looks poised to repeat last year’s success. Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep will play with a lot on the line. The winner of this bout will claim the semifinal berth.
Who will join Elina Svitolina in the semifinals?
WTA Finals Day 6 Predictions
Sofia Kenin vs Elina Svitolina
Head to head: Kenin 2-2 Svitolina
Sofia Kenin and Elina Svitolina has met on four occasions, all in 2019 on hard courts. Tied at 2-2, this match should be a fierce battle.
Sofia Kenin joins the WTA Finals as the second alternate. The American joins an illustrious field, yet has no opportunity to move into the semifinals. As we’ve seen over the year, Kenin is a fierce competitor who plays each point with the same zeal, the same fight. A strong and composed player, Kenin will look for a win to affirm her inclusion.
Elina Svitolina will play freely, having already secured her semifinal berth. The Ukrainian has turned in a determined performance, anxious to claim her only 2019 title. Svitolina presents as a tough opponent, keeping balls in play until she can send a clean winner to the open court. It’s a style of play which will frustrate the alternate and perhaps force her to go for too much too soon.
I see this match going the distance. But, Svitolina is playing at such a high level and with such determination. I’ll will be difficult to upend Svitolina at this stage.
Prediction: Svitolina in 3
Karolina Pliskova vs Simona Halep
Head to head: Pliskova 4-7 Halep
Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep will meet for the 12th time – this time with a lot on the line. The Czech and Romanian stand at 1-1 in the Purple Group. This match will determine who’ll join Elina Svitolina in the semifinals.
Pliskova had a disappointing start to the round robin group stage. After falling in straight sets to Elina Svitolina, the powerful Czech was a question mark for tournament success. Bianca Andreescu’s retirement saw the World #2 claim her first win. Pliskova has an enormous serve, leading the Tour with more aces and titles than anyone else. It has been a strong few weeks for the Czech superstar, who won the Zhengzhou Open during the Asian swing. A determined Pliskova is definitely capable of winning this match.
Simona Halep defeated Bianca Andreescu in her opener. It was a solid performance in which the Romanian served well and retrieved even better. The World #5 suffered a comprehensive defeat in her second round group stage match against Elina Svitolina. The Halep serve couldn’t find its mark, allowing the Romanian to win only 60% of her service games. Since her Wimbledon win, Halep has struggled. If Halep cannot lift her service, this match will quickly get away from her.
Pliskova has been the better player over the past few months. While you cannot count out a determined Simona Halep, the Czech will be resolute in her semifinal quest. And, that big serve will garner some free points negating the best aspect of the Halep game. Certainly, it will be a close contest, but Pliskova should have enough to win.
Prediction: Pliskova in 3
Main Photo from Getty.