This time it was the Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina’s turn for a comeback.
Trailing by a set, the 24-year-old won her biggest career title on Sunday, defeating American Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore.
“I think I have nothing to prove anymore to anyone,” Svitolina said afterwards. “It’s definitely a good statement for myself and good boost of — I can’t say confidence, because I try to always have confidence in myself, to have it is my personality. I think for me it’s just that the third set really showed that I was mentally tough. That’s what made the difference.”
The No. 6-seeded Svitolina captured the title in only her second appearance at the year-end finals, last year losing in the round robin portion of the championships in her debut.
She improved to 13-2 in career finals, not losing a match all week in Singapore. It was her fourth title of 2018 following Brisbane, Dubai, and Rome.
The Ukrainian almost missed qualifying for the WTA Finals after some early-round losses in the lead-up to Singapore.
“I was clear with what I had to do on court,” she said. “I have been working really, really hard. Even though my results wasn’t good, since Wimbledon, I had four or five weeks where I was on court and in the gym working. These past five months, there have been lots of work that I was putting in. That’s why for me it was a little bit disappointing, and I was trying to stay very positive, because I was giving everything on the practice court and results were…not what I expected. That’s why I was a little bit sad.”
Svitolina entered the final trailing Stephens 1-2 in their career head-to-head encounters. Stephens in her prior semifinal beat Karolina Pliskova after losing the first set 6-0, and Svitolina also won a three-setter in her semi.
Stephens looked to continue her dominating form from the week when she took a 3-0 lead en route to capturing the first set. In the second set Stephens dropped serve for the first time with the help of a handful on enforced errors to give Svitolina a 3-1 lead, and Svitolina would drop only one other game to force a third.
Svitolina immediately took control in the third, breaking for a 3-0 lead. Stephens brought it back to 3-2, but Svitolina ran the table from there to put the match away 6-2 with the help of a flurry of errors from the American.
Prior to the final Stephens said her 2018 results have validated her as a consistent Top 10 player.
“After the US Open last year, everyone was, like, ‘Oh, she’s a one-hit wonder, she’ll never do anything again, it was just lucky, no one was playing, blah, blah, blah,’…this season I was like ‘I really want to play a little more consistent, I want to have some better results in the bigger tournaments and just do better to show that I’m a Top 10 or top-whatever player. I think I did that throughout the year.”
The 24-year-old Stephens fell to 1-3 in finals this year and 6-3 career.
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