Svitolina outlasts Bencic to keep WTA finals title defence alive


Shenzhen, China

An indefatigable Elina Svitolina came from behind to outlast a hobbled Belinda Bencic in a gruelling semi-final on Saturday, continuing her dogged quest to defend her WTA Finals title.
The world number eight worked over an ailing Bencic with a comeback 5-7, 6-3, 4-1 victory in one hour and 50 minutes at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre. The Swiss struggled with a right leg injury from late in the first set but gamely fought on before calling it a day.
She was the third player to retire mid-match in the tournament following the withdrawals of Kiki Bertens and Bianca Andreescu. World number three Naomi Osaka withdrew from the year-ender before her second match against Ashleigh Barty. Svitolina will play the winner of the second semi-final between Barty and Karolina Pliskova — the top two ranked players in the world.
The Ukrainian did not lose a set in the round-robin phase and remains on track to claim a maximum prize of US $4.725 million — the highest pay cheque in tennis history. “It´s very tough for her,” Svitolina said. “I´m going to leave everything on the court (in the final) to try to raise the cup again.”
Both players came out firing in a high-quality opening and traded winners but it was the Swiss who impressed with her aggressive approach. Bencic´s freewheeling paid off when a blistering backhand return winner captured the break —AFP