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Svitolina vs Hibino WTA Hong Kong live streaming, preview and tips - Top seed and WTA Finals hopeful Svitolina targets quarter-finals

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 11 Oct 2018
  • Elina Svitolina vs Nao Hibino is live from Hong Kong around 7.00pm local time on Thursday (12.00pm BST)
  • First career meeting between the pair
Elina Svitolina (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Elina Svitolina continues her bid for a fourth WTA title of 2018 when she faces Japanese qualifier Nao Hibino in the second round of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open on Thursday night.

(geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)

Still trying to secure a ticket to the season-ending WTA Finals Singapore, top seed Elina Svitolina aims for the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open quarter-finals on Thursday against qualifier Nao Hibino.

Arriving in Hong Kong on the back of consecutive first round eliminations in Wuhan and Beijing, Svitolina was in desperate need of a big tournament in order to regain some confidence and accumulate enough points to book her place at the WTA Finals for the second straight season - and she got off to the perfect start against Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon earlier this week, cruising to a routine 6-2 6-3 victory.

“There’s always a bit of pressure, being in a tournament and being the top seed,” Svitolina said after the victory. “But I’ve been in this situation many times, and for me it’s just another tournament that I can perform well in. I can show my best, play good matches - that’s why I’m here.”

Svitolina can qualify for the WTA Finals Singapore this week, but she needs to win the title in Hong Kong and hope Karolina Pliskova fails to make the final in Tianjin and Kiki Bertens is knocked out before the semi-finals in Linz. Considering both of those players are in great form at the moment, the three-horse race for the eighth and final spot (Sloane Stephens at No. 6 still hasn’t assured herself a spot and Aryna Sabalenka is in with an outside chance, but realistically it would take a miracle for Stephens to miss out and Sabalenka to qualify) could head into the final event of the regular season in Moscow next week.

Always a steady and consistent player, Svitolina added a fresh layer of aggression to her game in 2017 as she compiled her best season on tour, climbing to as high as No. 3 in the world on the back of three WTA Premier 5 titles in Dubai, Rome and Toronto, along with International crowns in Taipei and Istanbul) to register an overall record of 53-14. The 23-year-old began the year with a bang as she won the Brisbane International and successfully defended her Dubai and Rome crowns, but Svitolina has seemingly lost a bit of her power and muscle in favour of pursuing better fitness. It’s hard to say whether that has contributed to her declining results, but one would have to say the two could very easily be related, because Svitolina hasn’t posted a top 10 win since Rome and hasn’t really been the same since a third round loss to Mihaela Buzarnescu at the French Open.

Svitolina went on to lose in the opening round of Wimbledon to Tatjana Maria and the fourth round of the U.S. Open by Anastasija Sevastova, while she was knocked out in the opening rounds of Wuhan and Beijing as previously mentioned. It’s no secret Svitolina isn’t operating at her best right now, but a title in Hong Kong could propel her back to the type of tennis we know she’s capable of.

Nao Hibino (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Nao Hibino is attempting to reach her first WTA quarter-final of the season after qualifying for the main draw in Hong Kong without dropping a set and continuing her fine form with a straight sets dispatch of former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the opening round, prevailing 6-3 6-3 to set up Thursday’s showdown with Svitolina.


Hibino broke into the top 200 for the first time in 2015 after winning three ITF titles and then made a surprise impact at WTA level shortly after those triumphs at the Tashkent Open, beating Donna Vekic in the final and claiming the title as a teenager without dropping a set. That victory propelled Hibino into the top 100 as the Japanese continued her solid rise up the rankings into 2016, hitting a career-high ranking of No. 56 as she made another run in Tashkent, this time finishing runner-up to Kristyna Pliskova. The 23-year-old made two more finals in 2017 in Malaysia and Jiangxi but lost to Ash Barty and Peng Shuai respectively, but Hibino’s ranking has been on a gradual decline for a while now, finishing last year at No. 98 and slipping out of the top 100 in March - and she still hasn’t made it back, coming into Hong Kong as the World No. 125, with an ITF title at the $60k Honolulu tournament in July her lone highlight of 2018.

Hibino has toiled away on the ITF circuit for around half of the season, but she’s tried her luck at WTA level since falling in qualifying at the U.S. Open, making the second rounds of Hiroshima and Tashkent - beating Eugenie Bouchard in both events - and qualifying for Tokyo before going down to Dominika Cibulkova in three sets. However, Hibino has won three matches already in Hong Kong without dropping a set - could she be on course for one of the biggest wins of her career against Svitolina?

It’s unlikely and would take Svitolina collapsing to a whole new level in order for it to happen. The World No. 5 has so much to play for and is determined to find her best level again as she tries to qualify for Singapore and make a late-season impact. Hibino plays her best tennis in Asia and could make like difficult times, but Svitolina is simply a far superior player and she should be too classy in this second round encounter.


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Svitolina vs Hibino WTA Hong Kong live streaming, preview and tips - Top seed and WTA Finals hopeful Svitolina targets quarter-finals

Elina Svitolina continues her bid for a fourth WTA title of 2018 when she faces Japanese qualifier Nao Hibino in the second round of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open on Thursday night.

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