Elina Svitolina became the first player to qualify for the WTA Finals semifinals as she notched a 7-5, 6-3 win over fifth-seed Simona Halep on Wednesday in Shenzhen, China.
Svitolina, the eighth-seed and defending champion, entered her match on Wednesday having lost the prior two matches to Halep this season, but was able to beat her in straight sets to claim the first of four semifinal spots at the end-of-the-year finals.
“Of course, there is some kind of pressure because you’re losing points in this week. I think this kind of thing is pressure,” said Svitolina on pressure to defend her title. “I always try to never take it that way. I always try to take it as: I played well here, so let’s find this year as well. This kind of mindset, this kind of game, it takes work to do it.”
Also on Wednesday, US Open champion Bianca Andreescu withdrew from her match against Karolina Pliskova after the first set with a knee injury. She said she plans to try and continue playing at the tournament, but will make a decision on Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Naomi Osaka withdrew with a shoulder injury, and was replaced by alternate Kiki Bertens.