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Svitolina vs Putintseva tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – World no. 3 Svitolina begins Zhengzhou Open campaign

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 12 Sep 2019
  • Elina Svitolina faces Yulia Putintseva in the second round of the Zhengzhou Open
  • Svitolina vs Putintseva is live from Zhengzhou on Friday, 13 September at 1.30pm local/6.30am BST
Elina Svitolina (PA Sports)

US Open semifinalist Elina Svitolina looks for a fifth straight win against Yulia Putintseva as they meet for the first time in three years at the Zhengzhou Open on Friday. 

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World no. 3 Elina Svitolina brings her quest for a first title in 2019 to the Zhengzhou Open as she takes on Yulia Putintseva in the second round.

Should Svitolina, (or indeed Putintseva) win, she will advance to a quarter final against Kristina Mladenovic, which is also scheduled for Friday because of the weather delays that have hit the tournament over the last couple of days.

It’s been an odd year for Svitolina, who had developed a reputation over the past few seasons for being very good at winning WTA Tour titles – 11 in 2015-18, seven at Premier level or above – while underperforming at Grand Slam level, making just three quarterfinals in the same timespan.

Svitolina in her last match, the US Open semifinal (PA Sports)
That dynamic has been flipped in 2019, which has seen Svitolina so far fail to win a WTA Tour title while recording her best ever results at Grand Slam level. A quarterfinalist at the Australian Open in January, Svitolina went on to make back-to-back semifinals at Wimbledon and the recent US Open.

In a way it’s the natural progression which you would expect after Svitolina won the biggest title of her career at the season-ending championships in Singapore at the end of last year – just obscured by a knee injury which really clouded much of the first half of her season. She made the semifinals of Doha, Dubai and Indian Wells in the first quarter of 2019, but was kept off court from Miami until Madrid by a knee injury and didn’t really look fit to play when she did come back, going 2-3 on clay – usually a very strong part of the season for her. But she took advantage of a soft draw at Wimbledon to make that semifinal, and although her August hard-court results weren’t great, again she lifted her level when it came to the fourth and final major of the year. This time there was nothing soft about her draw as she scored victories over Venus Williams, Dayana Yastremska, Madison Keys and Johanna Konta to reach the final four, although her performance against Serena Williams in that semifinal – much as her performance against Simona Halep in the Wimbledon semifinals – was a bit weak.

Svitolina’s US Open run has propelled her back up to her career-high ranking of world no. 3, but she is only in tenth place on the Porsche Road to Shenzhen, the standings which track qualification for the season-ending championships, and it will be a blow if the Ukrainian cannot qualify for the tournament she won in such impressive style last year.

That means she needs a good Asian swing – starting in Zhengzhou, upgraded to a Premier-level event this year and with six of the WTA’s top 20 appearing in the draw as a consequence.
Second seed Svitolina will be one of the last to get going after a first-round bye, but presumably that will have given her more of a chance to rest and recover after having to make a swift turnaround from New York.

Yulia Putintseva won’t be an easy opening opponent, even if Svitolina does enjoy a good record against her.

Yulia Putintseva (PA Sports)
Kazakhstan’s Putintseva defeated Tamara Zidansek in an up-and-down match 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 to book her place in the second round in Zhengzhou and she is looking to make the quarterfinals of an event that’s Premier-level or higher for a third time in 2019, having made the last eight at the Apia International in Sydney in January and in Birmingham in June, losing to Kiki Bertens and Julia Goerges respectively.

Twice a quarterfinalist at the French Open, Putintseva almost dropped out of the top 100 last year before her second run to the last eight at Roland Garros and was outside the top 50 12 months ago before reaching the second WTA Tour final of her career in Guangzhou.

After a solid 2019 season, Putintseva comes into Zhengzhou ranked world no. 36 – not miles away from her career-high ranking of world no. 27. In addition to the Sydney and Birmingham quarterfinals mentioned above, the Kazakh won her first title this year, triumphing in Nurnberg on clay the week before the French Open – surely a contributing factor to losing in the first round to Rebecca Peterson at Roland Garros. She also made the last 16 in Miami and the third round of the US Open, and has done well against higher-ranked opponents this year, beating Naomi Osaka (twice), Anastasija Sevastova, Belinda Bencic, Sloane Stephens and, at the US Open, Aryna Sabalenka, who is also in the Zhengzhou field.

Historically, though, the match-up with Elina Svitolina has not been a good one for her. When they played on the ITF Tour in 2011-12, Putintseva won both encounters – the two women are both 24 years old – but on the WTA Tour, the honours have all gone Svitolina’s way. The Ukrainian has won all four of the matches they’ve played on the WTA Tour, three of the four in straight sets.
This will be the first time they have played since 2016, and while Putintseva is definitely a better player – she has made great strides in 2019 at playing much more aggressively and going for her shots, especially against higher-ranked opponents – Svitolina’s improvement since 2016 is vast. Both women are great defenders and counter-punchers, but Svitolina is an efficient server and is much better at transitioning forward into the court and finding ways to finish off points without sacrificing too much accuracy. Against that has to be balanced the fact that Putintseva is already accustomed to the conditions in Zhengzhou, where it seems to be quite cold and damp, and Svitolina’s having to make the transition from New York, with probably some emotional if not physical baggage from her semifinal run. Still, the sensible thing is to expect Svitolina to win a fifth straight match against Putintseva and book a quarterfinal clash with Kristina Mladenovic at the Zhengzhou Open. 

Svitolina vs Putintseva Zhengzhou Open tennis is live from Zhengzhou on Friday, 13 September from 1.30pm local/6.30am BST

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Svitolina vs Putintseva tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – World no. 3 Svitolina begins Zhengzhou Open campaign

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