Top-ranked Ash Barty yesterday won the WTA Finals trophy, beating defending champion Elina Svitolina in straight sets, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova won their semi-final in the doubles, but fell in the final yesterday to Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic.
Barty had not beaten Svitolina in five previous attempts, but she dominated yesterday, winning 6-4, 6-3 in 1 hour, 26 minutes at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center.
The Australian claimed US$4.42 million — the biggest ever awarded in men’s or women’s tennis.
Barty, like Svitolina, dropped the opening set of her semi-final on Saturday before beating Karolina Pliskova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Belinda Bencic retired in the third set as Svitolina outlasted the injured Swiss to win 5-7, 6-3, 4-1.
Babos and Mladenovic played a masterclass to defend their WTA Finals doubles title in a lopsided final. The world No. 3 pairing completed an unbeaten campaign with a 6-1, 6-3 rout in 64 minutes.
The French Open champions were the first team since 2008 to defend their crown. It was a third straight triumph for Babos, who won in 2017 when paired with Andrea Sestini-Hlavackova.
“We really stood up and believed in our mental strength,” Mladenovic said after the match.
The French-Hungarian pairing started red hot and captured two early breaks to run through a one-sided first set in just 24 minutes.
They gained a decisive break in the sixth game of the second set before completing a convincing victory over the Wimbledon champions.
Hsieh and Strycova reached the finals after steamrolling through their semi-final on Saturday, overwhelming eighth seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-2 in under an hour.
Hsieh and Strycova broke Groenefeld and Schuurs in seven of eight service games, while only being broken twice themselves.
Taiwan’s Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching failed to get out of the group stage after losing all three of their round-robin matches.
Switzerland’s Bencic questioned the quality of the court at the event after she joined the list of players to pull out of the end-of-season championship on Saturday.
Bencic retired midway through the third set of her semi-final against Svitolina to become the fourth player to withdraw at this year’s tournament, which is being played on a temporary hard court at the indoor facility.
“I was cramping,” Bencic said. “I started to feel it at the start of the second set, my hamstring. I called the physio. I started cramping in my foot and again in my hamstring.”
“I really didn’t want to retire. I wanted to finish the match. It was not possible. I’m really disappointed about how my body failed me,” she said.
“I think these courts are really not ideal. You can see there were four retirements,” she said.
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