Svitolina proud of mental toughness in victory over Bertens

Naomi Osaka

The world number four was reduced to tears as she retired from her decisive final round-robin match against Kiki Bertens in Singapore on Friday due to a hamstring injury, ensuring the Dutch debutant advanced to the semi-finals from the Red Group along with Sloane Stephens.

Stephens broke back immediately and served out to take the set 6-4 and level the match.

Her aggressive style in the eight-player season finale was the backbone of her success, as she become the first athlete to go through the WTA Finals undefeated since Serena Williams in 2013. "It means a lot to me", Svitolina said on court after the match. I just tried to stay in it, and get as many balls back as I could.

The match lasted 2 hours and 25 minutes.

The trend of this tournament suggested the match would go to three sets, however - 10 matches have gone the distance this week, beating the previous high of six - and it duly did so when Svitolina ran away with the second set.

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"It feels unbelievable and it was such a tough battle today", said Svitolina, who pumped her fists and then blew kisses to the crowd after winning.

After Stephens had lost the first eight games, the American said she was thinking "I made it all the way to the semifinal, and I'm going to lose?".

Stephens said she was satisfied with her debut WTA Finals.

The 21-year-old made her Grand Slam breakthrough in NY last month and followed up with a run to the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo and the China Open semi-finals, but a leg injury in Singapore ruined any chance she had of adding to that success. "I think only a few points decided the third set because we both were playing good tennis". "I made a little bit more mistakes than usual".

Before they met in the final, Stephens expressed sympathy for Svitolina. She's a tough match.

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Svitolina was on a mission to silence the "haters" this week and she should have won plenty of new admirers after taking on all comers to claim the biggest title of her career.

Heading to her biggest career final, Svitolina will seek her 13th career title and fourth this season, following the Brisbane International, Dubai Tennis Championships and Italian Open. "I think mental toughness is what I really had to show".

Sloane Stephens of United States of America reacts during the singles final against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.

"Yeah, that's definitely good statement for myself and good boost of, can't say confidence, because I always try to have the confidence in myself".

She mixed power from the baseline with deft drop shots to rattle the 24-year-old.

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