Elina Svitolina stretched every sinew in a brilliant display of defensive tennis to register the biggest win of her career when she rallied for a 3-6 6-2 6-2 triumph over Sloane Stephens in an enthralling WTA Finals title decider on Sunday.
Ukrainian Svitolina had arrived in Singapore woefully out of form, but the baseliner gathered momentum as the tournament progressed, winning all three pool matches and semi-final before subduing a fast-starting Stephens.
“This is a very special moment for me in my career and it will give me plenty of confidence for the season coming ahead, I am really pleased with my performance,” Svitolina said as she received the Billie Jean King trophy.
Stephens, who looks deceptively casual but possesses supreme speed and athleticism, settled the quicker against a nervous-looking Svitolina, breaking at the first opportunity to lay down an early marker.
After a lacklustre start, however, Svitolina began warming to her task and found some range and depth to fashion two break-back points but Stephens’ forehand was dialled in and she moved 3-0 ahead when the Ukrainian’s backhand faltered.
Svitolina finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth game, able to placate the Stephens forehand with some brilliant defense, but the American continued to pound away at the corners to maintain her break advantage.
Elina Svitolina subdues Stephens to claim WTA Finals triumph