Defending champion Elina Svitolina wins again at WTA Finals

Elina-Svitolina

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine celebrates after defeating Sofia Kenin of the United States in the WTA Finals Tennis Tournament at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center in Shenzhen, China's Guangdong province, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. (Andy Wong / AP)

SHENZHEN, China — Karolina Pliskova advanced to the semifinals of the WTA Finals for the third straight year, beating Simona Halep 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 Friday shortly after defending champion Elina Svitolina completed a near-perfect group stage.

Pliskova benefited from a bit of luck on match point, hitting a forehand that caught the top of the net and dropped over for a final break of serve.

"It was big relief after this point because I felt it was going to end up in the net," Pliskova said. "I was kind of happy, of course.

"Felt sorry for her because the match was so close."

In the semifinals, Pliskova will take on top-ranked Ash Barty — Australia’s first female year-end No. 1.

Svitolina, who made it through the group stage without dropping a set, beat replacement Sofia Kenin 7-5, 7-6 (10) earlier Friday. She will next face Belinda Bencic.

Svitolina had already qualified for the semifinals from the Purple Group before the match. She saved two set points in the second set before finally winning the match on her sixth match point.

"I am that kind of person that each time I step on the court I have to win," Svitolina said. "My parents raised me this way, that I have to fight for everything, I have to give 100% each time I play.

"They would be very angry if I would just give this match to her. And my grandmother, as well, she would be very sad."

Kenin was playing her only match of the tournament after replacing the injured Bianca Andreescu.

"It was an amazing experience," Kenin said. "I’m really happy to have experienced it. Hopefully for next year I can actually not be an alternate, yeah, and just play here."

The 12th-ranked Kenin, who earned $165,000 for her appearance, was the second alternate to see action this week. Kiki Bertens took Naomi Osaka’s place after the Japanese player withdrew with a right shoulder injury ahead of her second match. Bertens ended up retiring with a virus against Bencic during her second match on Thursday.

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