WTA Finals: Pliskova clinches first Shenzhen win with Andreescu retirement
Karolina Pliskova will face Halep in her final round-robin match | Photo: Lintao Zhang

In what was considered an extremely stellar year, breakout star Bianca Andreescu ended her year with a three-match losing streak immediately after owning a 17-match winning streak. Injury issues bothered the 19-year-old Canadian once again in her debut at the year-ending WTA Finals, with a scary-looking knee injury ending her campaign earlier than expected.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova was meeting Andreescu in a rematch of their Toronto quarterfinal clash and managed to overturn the result although that was definitely not the way the Czech would have wanted to triumph. A scary-looking knee injury Andreescu sustained early in the match forced her to retire after conceding the opening set, with Pliskova setting up a final round-robin battle against Halep in a winner-takes-all match on Friday.

Karolina Pliskova in action | Photo: Lintao Zhang
Karolina Pliskova in action | Photo: Lintao Zhang

The knee injury affected Andreescu’s ability to hit quality backhands as she committed 14 unforced errors as opposed to just six winners at the baseline, with Pliskova being the more aggressive one and adapted her tactics as the match progressed. 17 winners to 15 unforced errors allowed the second seed to take the first set 6-3 but that marked the end of the match as Andreescu was unable to continue.

Pliskova takes the first set and the win

It was a horrible start for the big-serving Czech, who lost a 40-0 lead on serve which initially looked promising. Errors flooded her game and Andreescu took full advantage, breaking serve in the opening game and she looked on course to claim a maiden win at the year-end championships. 

Andreescu consolidated her break with ease, but Pliskova finally managed to get rid of her nerves by producing a routine service hold. There came the trouble as Andreescu heard a crack in her knee while reaching out for a return, and was forced to take a lengthy medical time-out to tape it up.

Bianca Andreescu sustained a knee injury during the match | Photo: Lintao Zhang
Bianca Andreescu sustained a knee injury during the match | Photo: Lintao Zhang

Her movement was visibly affected and she notified her coach later on that her knee is cracking every single step she takes, but she was unwilling to throw in the white towel and Pliskova was making a ton of errors which fueled her hope for a win.

However, Pliskova cleaned up her game and attacked the net more often, saving triple break points at 2-2 and ultimately winning six of the last seven games to take the opening frame 6-3. Andreescu finally realized the severity of her injury and was forced to retire from the match. It is a huge pity, but for the Canadian, she will have many similar chances in the future.