WTA Brisbane: Elina Svitolina dominates for first title of 2018

Elina Svitolina didn't fail her positive streak in finals. After being stopped for two times in the semifinals - in 2015 and 2017 - she finally clinched the Brisbane International title, ending the outstanding week of qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich in two sets, and signing the sixth final won in a row, after the five titles she successfully claimed in 2017.

With the final result of 6-2, 6-1, the Ukrainian didn't concede her opponent any chance to fight back, and Sasnovich, probably tired from a long week that saw her battling her way from qualifications, couldn't do much to challenge her. Despite the disappointing final, Sasnovich can leave Brisbane with a new career-high of at least 54 in the world, and with two encouraging victories against top-20 players such as Kristina Mladenovic and Anastasija Sevastova.

As for Svitolina, a good start of the year will surely confirm her as one of the favorites of the upcoming Australian Open, in which she will compete as the 4th seed.

Elina Svitolina [Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images]

Svitolina dominates from the start to take the lead

After a quick hold from Svitolina, Sasnovich seemed to be off to a good start as well, but a double-fault complicated the game for her. Two backhand errors, the first of many, eventually signed the early break. Sasnovich's struggles to keep the ball in play continued and eased Svitolina's path; the Ukrainian, on the other hand, kept serving very well, and with an ace, she consolidated her lead to 15.

From 0-40 down, the Belarussian seemed to finally react, and the backhand that too often betrayed her today brought the game to deuce; with an help from her serve, she held to win her first game of the match. Nevertheless, Svitolina confirmed to be almost unplayable on her service games, being too solid to even give her opponent a slight chance to break back.

Despite her on-going poor performance on serve, Sasnovich managed to hold again after a long, battled game, but once more could nothing during Svitolina's service game, letting the Ukrainian consolidate a 5-2 lead. Another struggling game and the Belarussian conceded two set points. Svitolina wasted the first one, but she took the second with a backhand winner on the line, ending the set with a 6-2 score.

With only 38 percent of first serves in, and a low 25 percent of points won with her first serve, Sasnovich clearly found herself in trouble in her service games, and lost points against Svitolina's aggressive returns too many times. A larger number of unforced errors (15 to 9) also affected her performance. On the other side of the net, the Ukrainian had been far too solid on serve (64 percent of first serves in, with a winning percentage of 86 percent) to give her opponent a single chance to break back.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich [Photo credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images]

Svitolina races ahead to claim the title

The second set started as the first. Svitolina held to start the match, while Sasnovich found herself in trouble on her own serve. On the longer rallies, she could attack to claim points, but Svitolina's too good defense didn't ease her task. On the other hand, Sasnovich kept being too vulnerable to Svitolina's returns, and it had been exactly a return winner from the Ukrainian which converted the second break point to grant her the lead.

From 40-15 up, Svitolina suffered two powerful returns from Sasnovich and found herself challenged for the first time on her serve. One ace and a good defense on the lines regained the momentum for Svitolina and signed the hold. A disastrous game on serve from Sasnovich confirmed the trend of the set, letting the Ukrainian break again, and then hold to love for 5-0.

Serving to stay in the match, the Belarussian got two chances to hold but wasted them with a double-fault and yet another backhand error. A good return granted Svitolina a match point, but Sasnovich saved it with the first ace of the match. In the end, the Belarussian held, not without struggle, to claim her first game in the set.

This only delayed the foregone conclusion; with a flawless game on serve, with two aces and two powerful first serves, Svitolina closed the match with a 6-2, 6-1 scoreline, claiming the triumph in Brisbane after little more than an hour. 

Svitolina and Sasnovich pose with their trophies [Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images]

Even if Sasnovich served slightly better in the second set, on the other side of the net she had an opponent who was too good in both serves and returns to give her any chance to fight back. Despite a not always flawless week - she struggled at the start in both her matches against Johanna Konta and Karolina Pliskova - Svitolina showed a dominant performance when most needed, heading to Melbourne with a title and surely a good confidence for her run at the upcoming Australian Open.