WTA Finals: Elina Svitolina edges debutant Sofia Kenin to stay perfect

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WTA Finals: Elina Svitolina edges debutant Sofia Kenin to stay perfect

In the battle of the defending WTA Finals champion and the debutant, Elina Svitolina defeated Sofia Kenin 7-5, 7-6 after challenging two hours and ten minutes to finish the Purple Group with a perfect score. Elina will face Belinda Bencic in the semi-final, with the winner of that one securing the sixth spot in the ranking ahead of Petra Kvitova.

After a breakthrough season that saw her winning three WTA titles, Sofia Kenin is on the verge of entering the top-10, earning a chance to make a debut at the WTA Finals when Bianca Andreescu withdrew following a knee injury from the match against Karolina Pliskova, giving her best to topple the better-ranked rival and earn valuable points in the last encoutner of the season.

In the end, the more experienced player had to dig deep to forge the victory, coming from a break down in the very last moment in both sets to seal the deal in straight sets and save energy for that upcoming Bencic clash.

Svitolina fired 11 aces and fended off six out of nine break chances, keeping the pressure on Sofia who saved seven out of 11 break points despite ten double faults on her tally, falling short in the decisive moments to end her season after another valiant effort.

The young American grabbed a break in the third game following a double fault from Elina who broke back in the sixth game, only to suffer another break a few minutes later and sent Kenin 4-3 in front. Cracking under pressure, Sofia netted an easy forehand in game ten while serving for the opener, allowing Svitolina to level the score at 5-5 and getting broken again in the 12th game to hand the set to the Ukrainian.

Still pushing strong, Kenin grabbed a break at 4-4 in set number two with a deep return, unable to serve out for the set after wasting a set point and losing serve on the fourth break chance when her backhand landed long.

Svitolina squandered a match point on the return in the 12th game, setting up a tie break where she wasted four more, allowing Sofia to earn a set point at 10-9 and saving it with a solid attack that forced an error from the young American.

In the end, Svitolina converted the sixth match point at 11-10 when Kenin sprayed an error, completing the round-robin stage with a perfect score and hoping for more of the same against Belinda Bencic tomorrow.