After an incredible week of high caliber play, we’re down to the final four at the WTA Finals. This tournament has seen a fair share of surprises as Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu withdrew with injury, and alternate Kiki Bertens withdrew on illness.
Who will punch their ticket to the final? Here are predictions of the must-watch semifinal clashes.
WTA Finals Semifinal Predictions
Belinda Bencic vs Elina Svitolina
Head to head: Bencic 2-1 Svitolina
Belinda Bencic started the year outside the Top 50. Now, the 22-year-old holds the World #7 spot and shows no signs of setting there. Indeed, the Swiss has had a stellar 2019 and is a solid contender in the WTA Finals. I truly believed this tournament would prove too much for Bencic and she would find herself outplayed at every turn. Yet, Bencic enters the semifinals having won two of her three matches. A clever player who easily uses opponents’ power against them, Bencic now faces the defending champion, Elina Svitolina.
Elina Svitolina hasn’t dropped a set yet at this prestigious tournament. That must be quite a confidence boost for the 25-year-old who’s gone title-less this year. The Ukrainian has played 21 tournaments in which she reached five quarterfinals and five semifinals. Svitolina has remained in the Top 10 throughout the year with a 35-21 win-loss record. The talented World #8 is an exceptional returner, converting 47% of break point opportunities. Svitolina has a remarkable ability to chase down balls and return them with purpose. This skill will serve Svitolina well when she squares off against Belinda Bencic.
Interestingly, Bencic leads the head to head 2-1. Yet, both of the Bencic wins went the distance. Perhaps Svitolina has dialed into the Swiss’ game as their recent Rogers Cup bout went to the Ukrainian in straight sets. Momentum shifts should be many and rallies long, but Svitolina looks just too solid to end her title quest now.
Prediction: Svitolina in 2
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova
Head to head: Barty 3-2 Pliskova
Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova meet in the semifinals of the WTA Finals. Both have a 2-1 record in Shenzhen leading to their semifinal square off, and will push to take it one step further. Definitely a popcorn match between the World’s top two players.
Barty will be looking to cap off what has been a stellar year with the Year-End Title crown. The Aussie has accomplished remarkable things in both doubles and singles. Holding the year end World #1 ranking is but one of her accomplishments. Among her three 2019 titles, Barty captured a Slam earned at the French Open. The 23-year-old has perhaps the most strategic game on Tour. Able to course correct as the match progresses, Barty can produce nearly any shot and learn her opponent’s weakness. This versatile player holds the second spot for service points won, second only to the legendary Serena Williams. That puts Barty in the number three spot for service games won at 79.5% – just .5 short of Petra Kvitova and .6 behind Serena Williams. No wonder the Aussie is one of the hardest players to break serve.
Karolina Pliskova owns the biggest serve on Tour, racking up 474 aces in 2019. It’s a potent weapon which gives the Czech a sharp stat of 73% of points won behind her first delivery. Pliskova has 50-15 win loss record for the year, including four titles. Perhaps going into this match with nothing to lose will allow the 27-year-old to play freely. When the Czech’s powerful groundstrokes are finding their mark, it’s nearly impossible to mount a defense. Yet, as can happen, Pliskova’s power leads to too many unforced errors when she goes for too much too soon. And, you can count on Barty to find opportunities to force those errors.
This will be an exciting match which should take three sets to decide. I give the edge to Barty whose strategic thinking and variety will allow her to adjust to whatever Pliskova throws at her.
Prediction: Barty in 3
Main Photo from Getty.