Svitolina overcomes slow start
The Chinese made a perfect start to the match as her powerful and lethal backhand managed to help her earn a comfortable service hold to start the match with. Continuing her slow start to the match, Svitolina failed to find her first serves and allowed Peng to dictate play with some powerful double handed shots and eventually broke serve to have the early advantage, leading 2-0.
Looking to consolidate the service break after she won the first point in the next game with an excellent double-handed backhand down the line winner, Peng made some errors to gift the break back immediately, returning back on serve as soon as possible. Svitolina got her game going from then as she held her serve comfortably to love to make the scores level.
An exchange of easy service holds followed up as both players looked very solid while serving, before Svitolina made the next breakthrough in the longest game of the set, breaking serve having saved two game points to take the lead for the first time in the match. The Ukrainian then consolidated the service break with another comfortable hold of service, placing her in an advantageous situation to take the first set. Losing serve for the second time in a row, Peng threw away the first set after losing her fourth game in a row to end off the set which lasted 32 minutes on a negative note.
Peng makes great start but gets pegged back
Similar to the first set, Peng started off the second set the best way possible. This time, it was a break of service to start the set with, jumping off to an early advantage as soon as possible. Once again, Peng failed to hold onto her lead as she was broken immediately in the next game despite owning a game point opportunity, allowing Svitolina to return level.
Peng had another chance to take the lead as she earned two break point opportunities in the next game, only to see Svitolina save both of them and hold her service in a nervy game. The Chinese would rue this missed opportunity as the top seed broke serve just in the following game to lead by a set and a break, with the title within her reach already.
A tense service hold saw Svitolina extend her lead to 4-1 and be closer to the championship, but some tough fight from Peng managed to keep her in the match after an encouraging service hold. Peng eventually lost the match on her serve as Svitolina stepped up her game to convert her third match point in the match, clinching her fifth WTA title.
With this win, Svitolina would edge closer to the top 10 of the rankings, being just 700 points away from the incredible feat. A deep run at both Indian Wells and Miami would definitely give her some chance to enter the top 10 for the first time in her career.
Also, Peng has been making a silent push up in the rankings after a career-threatening back injury which she successfully came back from and won her first ever career WTA title at Tianjin last year at the age of 30. Her impressive run here would see her return to the world’s top 60 in the rankings, and with generally not many points to defend in the first half of the year, we can see her back in the top 50 soon.