First set: Karolina Pliskova 5-0* Simona Halep: It’s clear that Pliskova’s form is stemming from how well she is serving so far. She holds with another easy service game, sealed with an ace down the T. Halep isn’t even playing badly. She just can’t live with this at the moment.
First set: Karolina Pliskova *4-0 Simona Halep: More brilliant play from Pliskova as she moves up a double break. Early in the game, she crushed a backhand return then slipped into the net and she brought up break point with a whistling inside out forehand winner. She couldn’t convert the first break point, but a couple of minutes later she hooked a heavy forehand crosscourt and forced an error to take the break.
First set: Karolina Pliskova 3-0* Simona Halep: That was a statement love hold from Pliskova to consolidate the break. Huge serving and there wasn’t much that Halep could do.
First set: Karolina Pliskova *2-0 Simona Halep: Simona Halep did not play a bad service game, but she’s already down. Pliskova looks great so far. She is dominating the baseline exchanges, peppering her game with some variety and crushing Halep’s second serve. She breaks by eliciting a Halep error with some heavy forehands.
First set: Karolina Pliskova 1-0* Simona Halep: Good start for Pliskova, who is serving well out of the blocks and already showing her variety. A great drop shot from the Czech early on, then she slammed down a trademark huge serve. She sealed the first game by moving to the net after a big forehand and picking off a nice volley.
Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova are now on-court. As noted earlier, not much has separated them in recent years and Halep won a particularly delightful three-set match in the Fed Cup at the beginning of the year. Let’s see what’s in store today.
As for Svitolina, she has been the player of this event by far. She hasn’t dropped a single set and the big question is whether anyone in the world still has the energy, patience and weapons to hit through her defence on these slow courts.
For a dead rubber including an alternate, that was a pretty entertaining match between Elina Svitolina and Sofia Kenin. Keep an eye out for 20 year-old Kenin, who has had a brilliant breakthrough year and finishes her breakthrough season ranked 13th with a huge win-loss record of 48-22 and three titles. Kenin is pretty under the radar for a young American who will have a good shot at reaching the top 10 next season.
Elsewhere, Kyle Edmund has been announced as the fifth Davis Cup player for Great Britain. Here’s Leon Smith’s statement:
“I’m delighted to name Kyle as the final nominated player to our GB Davis Cup team. Whilst Kyle has had a tough few months, he showed at the Paris Masters what level of tennis he is capable of producing. It’s been a difficult decision to make as Cam Norrie has had a very good year on tour and is finishing the year ranked around number 50 in the world. It’s a strong position for our team to be in when we have such high quality players vying for selection. The same is true for Joe Salisbury who is in great form and we wish him all the best for the ATP Tour finals. I’m excited about getting our team together and preparing for the finals in Madrid.”
Hello! Welcome to the final day of the round robin group stages, where we have a decisive match between longtime rivals Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova after Elina Svitolina clinched the Purple Group with a hard-fought 7-5 7-6(10) win over Sofia Kenin. Thanks to the injuries that have pillaged this event over the past three days, there hasn’t been much need to wipe the thick dust from our calculators in a desperate attempt to figure out the group scenarios. The scenario here is simple: win or die.
The rivalry between Halep and Pliskova has always been good fun. Halep leads the series 7-3 and won the first three meetings without dropping a set, but Halep is 4-3 since those initial encounters. Their games contrast nicely, with Pliskova’s big serving and aggression off the ground meeting Halep’s great defence. However, Pliskova is much more patient than the average 6’2 big server and Halep has her weapons. There are always a pleasant variety of staccato points and longer, attritional rallies.
The one thing they do have in common is that both players have expressed their displeasure at playing on such a slow court so late in the season. Neither could hit through Svitolina for extended periods during their earlier matches and, like seemingly everyone but Svitolina, they both seem to be feeling the physical and mental effects after another long year. With so much prize money and so many points on offer, we’ll see which player is prepared to bring their best tennis one final time.