WTA Finals: Svitolina advances, Andreescu injured

Published by AAP

Elina Svitolina celebrates her victory over Simona Halep at the WTA Finals. (Getty Images)
Defending champion Elina Svitolina progresses to the semifinals in Shenzhen while Bianca Andreescu retires with a second injury — this time to her knee.

The WTA Finals lost another star attraction while defending champion Elina Svitolina became the first player to book her place in the semifinals in Shenzhen.

Svitolina, the only player in the elite field not to have won a title in 2019, saw off Wimbledon champion Simona Halep 7-5 6-3 on Wednesday night for her second successive straight-sets win.

The Ukrainian tops the Purple Group with a 2-0 record with Halep still in the running despite falling to 1-1 for the week.

But while Svitolina was elated after posting her eighth straight win at the season-ending championships, including her unbeaten march to last year’s title, there were only tears for┬áBianca Andreescu.

The US Open champion was eliminated from the WTA Finals after being unable to complete her second round-robin match against Karolina Pliskova.

Andreescu was leading Pliskova 2-0 when she injured her left knee.

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After hobbling gingerly to her chair for assistance, the Canadian teenager had the knee heavily strapped and bravely tried to play through the pain.

But after winning only one more game, Andreescu called it quits when Pliskova took the opening set 6-3.

Having lost her opener on Monday against Halep and sustaining a back injury in that match, Andreescu now stands at 0-2 and with no hope of advancing even with a victory over Svitolina on Friday — if she returns to the court.

“I stepped weirdly on a return,” Andreescu said.

“I heard my knee crack and it kind of went inwards and putting pressure on it afterwards really bothered me I could barely bend my knee.

“It’s disappointing because this is the last tournament of the year and you want to go all out.”

Andreescu’s injury follows the withdrawal of third-seeded Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka with a shoulder problem before her scheduled second match on Tuesday against world No.1 Ash Barty.

Andreescu and Osaka, who was riding an 11-match winning streak, had been the pre-tournament title favourites.

But, unlike the complicated WTA Finals Red Group featuring Barty, Belinda Bencic, Petra Kvitova and Osaka’s replacement Kiki Bertens – who can all mathematically reach Saturday’s semifinals – Andreescu’s demise has made for a much simpler scenario.

The winner of Friday night’s clash between Halep and Pliskova, both with 1-1 records for the week, will join Svitolina in the semifinals.

Halep complained of not feeling comfortable on the slow indoor surface following her fifth defeat in nine meetings with Svitolina.

“I felt that I cannot finish the points,” Halep said.

“This court is not great for me, for my game. It’s very soft in a way. Even if you go and hit strong – I think that I hit well today – but not enough directions on the court.

“But she played well. She didn’t miss. I think she loves to play here. It’s her style.”

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