Last year Elina Svitolina became the first Ukrainian woman to play singles at the WTA Finals. This year Svitolina became the first woman from her country to reach the season-ending final after beating Kiki Bertens 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4 Saturday.
“It feels amazing and it was such a tough battle today,” said Svitolina, who pumped her fists and then blew kisses to the crowd after winning the semifinal.
“I think physically in the end it was just about running and chasing every ball.”
Bertens played too risky a brand of tennis, posting 41 winners to 12 for Svitolina, but also making 63 to 36 unforced errors.
Svitolina won all three of her round-robin matches.
Sloane Stephens, who also went 3-0 in the round-robin format, plays Karolina Pliskova in the second semifinal.
“There’s still lots of work ahead,” said sixth-seeded Svitolina. “It’s the last match of the season, definitely now, and I’m going to give my best and leave everything on court.”
Svitolina is chasing her fourth title this season, having already won at Brisbane, Dubai and Rome.
Svitolina qualified for a second consecutive WTA Finals this year only because her Dutch opponent on Saturday failed to reach the Moscow semifinals. Bertens eventually qualified for the eight-player field when No. 1 Simona Halep withdrew from the tournament with a back injury.
Bertens saved one set point on her serve in the 10th game of the first set, but couldn’t repeat that trick in the 12th game, double-faulting at 15-40 to surrender the set.
Bertens failed to capitalize on four set points ahead of the second set tiebreaker, but pushed the match into a decisive third set with a return winner on her next set point.
Serving for her place in the final, Svitolina saved two break points before shutting Bertens down.
This year is the first time since the round-robin format was reintroduced in 2003 that none of the top four seeded players — No. 1 Kerber, No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 3 Osaka and No. 4 Petra Kvitova — reached the semifinals.
Source: The Associated Press