WTA Finals: Elina Svitolina edges Karolina Pliskova to top the standings

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WTA Finals: Elina Svitolina edges Karolina Pliskova to top the standings

The defending WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina made a winning start in the Purple Group, prevailed against Karolina Pliskova 7-6, 6-4 after grueling an hour and 53 minutes. It was the fourth straight victory for the Ukrainian over the Czech, taking four points more than her rival and playing better in the decisive moments to seal the deal in straight sets.

Pliskova had 37 winners but also 42 unforced errors while Svitolina counted to 21 winners and 16 mistakes, taming her strokes nicely to top the standings before the second clash in this group between Bianca Andreescu and Simona Halep.

Defending the second serve correctly, Elina faced only four break points, suffering two breaks and earning three breaks from eight opportunities on the return after pushing Pliskova's second serve to the limits. Karolina drew first blood in the first game of the match after a perfect drop shot, spraying a backhand error in the fourth game to lose serve and bring Elina back to 2-2.

They stayed neck and neck in the remaining games, with no chance for the returners until the tie break that saw a real roller coaster and 26 points overall! Pliskova wasted one set point at 9-8 but it was all about Svitolina who in the end converted the seventh set point at 13-12 after a deep return, securing the opener in 64 minutes and gathering the momentum ahead of set number two.

Just like in the opener, they traded breaks in games one and four before Elina grabbed another one at 3-3 following a loose forehand from Pliskova, moving 4-3 up and serving for the victory in game ten. Ready to fight for every point, Karolina created two break chances but it wasn't to be for her, with two service winners from Svitolina who sealed the deal with another one to make a winning start in Shenzhen.