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Wozniacki vs Svitolina tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Counterpunchers clash at WTA Finals Singapore with semifinal spots on the line

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 24 Oct 2018
  • Caroline Wozniacki faces Elina Svitolina at the WTA Finals Singapore
  • Wozniacki vs Svitolina is live on Thursday at 7.30pm local/12.30pm BST
Caroline Wozniacki (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

On a court made for counterpunchers, two of the best face off at the WTA Finals Singapore as Caroline Wozniacki takes on Elina Svitolina.

With all four players still able to make the semifinals, the round-robin play in the White Group might come to a thrilling climax as defending champion Caroline Wozniacki takes on Elina Svitolina on Thursday.

Svitolina, the only player to go 2-0 in the White Group with a straight-sets win over Petra Kvitova and a three-set win over Karolina Pliskova, looks almost guaranteed to make the semifinals – a victory over Wozniacki in any number of sets will guarantee that she not only reaches the elimination stages but tops the group, while the only scenario in which she won’t qualify would be a straight-sets defeat to Wozniacki combined with victory for Pliskova over Kvitova. 

Since Kvitova vs Pliskova is the first match of the day, and a win for Kvitova would guarantee Svitolina’s qualification, it’s possible the Ukrainian might take the court having already done what she needed to do to reach the semifinals. Not so for Wozniacki, who needs to beat Svitolina to reach the final four – and might need to do so in straight sets if Pliskova has beaten Kvitova.

Wozniacki celebrates victory over Kvitova  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Wozniacki and Svitolina played in the round-robin stages of last year’s WTA Finals Singapore, with the Dane dropping just two games and going on to win what was then the biggest title of her career, and which turned out to also be a significant stepping-stone to an even bigger title – her maiden major at the Australian Open.

Wozniacki has struggled at times this year with some injury issues, and seems to be troubled by a knee problem in Singapore too, receiving a medical time-out for it during her match against Kvitova (although Wozniacki said that it should be fine as long as she tapes it up). But the Australian Open champion came into Singapore on a positive note after finding form to win her third title of the season in Beijing, and although she suffered a slightly surprising straight-sets defeat at the hands of Pliskova in a rematch of last year’s semifinals to start the week, she bounced back quickly to impress with a three-set win over Kvitova, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. 

Wozniacki served much better and played much better than she did in her opening match against Pliskova, keeping Kvitova – who was struggling to get much for free on her serve – under consistent pressure. Not only did Wozniacki land a high percentage of first serves (70%), she actually won a lot of points behind her first delivery, with variety on the serve seemingly more important than raw power on these courts. She was broken five times, but broke six, and kept her own game under tight control in terms of winners and unforced errors, soaking up the 40 winners Kvitova hit but also benefiting from the 40 unforced errors that resulted as Kvitova tried to hit through the Dane.

‘I played much better today and I think I returned well, served well and moved well,’ Wozniacki summed up the match for the crowd afterwards. ‘Against Petra, you just have to stay on your game, so I tried to stay focused and get a lot of balls back. I just had the belief and fought until the end.’

The general trend of results in Singapore have seen players who are gifted defenders and counterpunchers prevailing over players who rely on being able to get quick, aggressive points under their belt, which raises intriguing questions about what will happen when two players who are supremely gifted in those aspects of their games face off on Thursday.

Svitolina, making her second appearance in Singapore, came in with very little form and confidence to draw on after a definite downturn in her results since winning her third title of the season in May. But she has been superbly successful at the season-ending championships so far, starting by snapping a seven-match losing streak against Kvitova to get a 6-2, 6-4 win at the start of the tournament.

Elina Svitolina  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Things were a lot tougher for Svitolina against Pliskova, who had likewise won her first match of the tournament in straight sets. But it was once again consistency, accuracy and variety on the serve, rather than pure speed, which proved effective as the Ukrainian out-served the ‘ace queen’ over the balance of three sets, remaining unfazed by the ups and downs in Pliskova’s game to win 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. 

‘My goal was to make an extra ball over the net and fight until the very end and for every point, to don't give any easy errors,’ Svitolina said. ‘I think this was the key today. It worked really good, because I think Karolina was up and down and struggling sometimes with her serve. I had to be ready to take my chances. That's why I'm very happy with that.

‘It was a really challenging opening match, and this one, as well, so I'm very happy that I could handle those two, and I still have my next match very, very tough and, you know, I'm looking forward to it.’

Wherever Svitolina has found this confidence – maybe she just felt like she had nothing particularly to lose – these conditions are suiting her and she has put herself in an excellent position to make the semifinals in Singapore, able to guarantee that she will do so by simply winning a set against Wozniacki. 

While it’s hard to know exactly what will be at stake when the two take the court on Thursday, as it’s very possible Svitolina could have qualified by then if Kvitova wins earlier in the day, it’s interesting to note how they have matched up against each other in the past, with Svitolina actually leading the head-to-head 3-1. The solitary exception is the match that Wozniacki won in last year’s round-robin stages, 6-2, 6-0. I could see something similar unfolding if Svitolina comes into this match already qualified for the semifinals courtesy of a Kvitova victory over Pliskova. But if there’s anything to play for, Svitolina has been the more consistent player this week and impressed in her win over Pliskova. She could well be set to re-establish her superiority over Wozniacki as well as making the semifinals in Singapore. 

Wozniacki vs Svitolina BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore round-robin tennis is live from Singapore on Thursday at 7.30pm local/12.30pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify

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Wozniacki vs Svitolina tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Counterpunchers clash at WTA Finals Singapore with semifinal spots on the line

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