Zhuhai Semi-Final Match Previews & Predictions
The introduction of the WTA Elite trophy in Zhuhai was quite controversial with many questioning the timing and player commitment to the tournament. However the event has been pretty successful thus far with good crowds and some quality matches, amongst some disappointing retirements. The tournament promises to end with a bang, we are left with 4 worthy semi-finalists and 3 entertaining hard-fought battles to come.
Semi-Final #1: (1) Venus Williams vs (4) Roberta Vinci
Saturday’s first semi-final in Zhuhai will be a battle between the two veterans in the field. This promises to be a heated battle given the controversial ending to their most recent clash in Wuhan a couple of months ago. Roberta Vinci will enter this match searching for her first career victory over the American.
Venus Williams won both of her group stage matches, fighting back from a set down on both occasions. Venus started the week with a 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory over Madison Keys. Venus was outplayed for the majority of the opening 2 sets but used all of her experience to send the match to a decider before running away with the match. Venus made a sluggish start to her second match, but recovered well to claim a 4-6 6-1 6-1 win over Saisai Zheng. Venus is now extremely close to securing a spot in the top 10, she will certainly do that is she claims the title in Zhuhai.
Roberta Vinci started the week with an impressive 6-4 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, not dropping serve throughout the whole match. Roberta’s second match didn’t go so well, suffering a horror 1-6 0-6 loss to a red-hot Anna Schmiedlova. Roberta’s spot in the semi-finals was already confirmed before her match with Anna, that could certainly have something to do with the lopsided scoreline.
Venus holds a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record over Roberta and has the added advantage of a day of rest heading into this match. Venus defeated Roberta 5-7 6-2 7-6 in their most recent clash at the semi-final stage in Wuhan. The quick courts in Zhuhai will certainly help Venus, I suspect the American will continue her dominance over the Italian with a hard-fought win to advance to the final.
Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets
Semi-Final #2: (8) Elina Svitolina vs (3) Karolina Pliskova
Saturday’s second semi-final of the day promises to be a cracker when fellow rising stars Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova collide for a place in Sunday’s final. Both Elina and Karolina are searching for their biggest career title this week, it would be the perfect way to end career best seasons for both ladies. Both ladies went unbeaten through the group stage and bring good form into Saturday night’s match.
Elina Svitolina has been at her fighting best this week in Zhuhai. The Ukrainian started the week with a 7-6 6-3 victory over Andrea Petkovic before defeating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7 6-1 6-3. Elina’s win over Carla was particularly impressive, Elina scrambled well from the baseline, committing to chasing down every ball. Elina will need to raise her level on Saturday if she is to defeat Karolina for the first time.
Karolina Pliskova has been at her thunderous best this week. Stunning Jelena Jankovic with a 6-4 2-6 6-3 victory before thumping Sara Errani 6-0 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals. The quick courts in Zhuhai really seem to help Karolina, certainly in a match-up against counter-punchers.
Karolina Pliskova holds a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record over Elina, winning their most recent clash 2-6 6-4 6-4 in Wuhan a couple of months ago. Pliskova seems to have the edge over Elina, and I suspect that will once again be the case on Saturday.
Pliskova has the added advantage of having a day of rest before this match whilst Svitolina played a gruelling match against Carla on Friday evening. The quick surface will also help Pliskova hit through Svitolina.