The 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global opened on Sunday with a bang, as No.6 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine claimed only her second win in nine meetings with No.4 seed Petra Kvitova, beating the Czech, 6-3, 6-3, to take the lead in the round-robin portion of the event. (…)
Kvitova started shakily, dropping serve in the first game after a plethora of forehand errors. But deep returning helped her strike back immediately to level the set at 1-1, as she hoped to extend her streak of 12 consecutive sets won against Svitolina.
The Ukrainian, however, had other ideas, using spirited movement around the court to dismiss the sudden rash of dropshots from the Czech and stay even through 3-3. Svitolina then took advantage of more errors from Kvitova to reclaim her break lead at 4-3.
Kvitova ramped up her aggression even further, frequently rushing the net to try to grasp the break back, but Svitolina was unbowed. Svitolina opened up the 5-3 game with an amazing volley winner, and raced to triple set point. Kvitova double faulted on the second set point to hand Svitolina a set for the first time in their head-to-head since 2015.
Svitolina refused to give up the momentum as the second set started, showing her mettle by staving off three break points to hold for 2-1, and coming back from 0-30 down in her next service game, punching an ace to hold for 3-2.
The Ukrainian was rewarded for that fight with the decisive service break in the next game, as Kvitova’s forehand continued to misfire, giving Svitolina two break points. The sixth seed needed only one, as Kvitova sprayed another miscue long to provide Svitolina with a 4-2 advantage.
Kvitova survived a tough game at 4-3, holding with a lovely backhand volley and putting the pressure on Svitolina to serve out the match. But Svitolina was up to the task on the day, using incredible depth on her groundstrokes to come out on top during most rallies, and converting her first match point as a forehand by the Ukrainian forced a wide error from her opponent.