Race to Singapore: Elina Svitolina ‘mean’ and ‘angry’ as she hunts WTA Finals place in Hong Kong
World No 5 takes on Wang Qiang in Hong Kong Tennis Open last eight with four players breathing down her neck for spot at season-ending WTA Finals
A “mean” and “angry” Elina Svitolina is fired up for the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open quarter-finals as she chases a place at the season-ending WTA Finals.
The world No 5 takes on China No 1 Wang Qiang at Victoria Park on Friday for a place in the last four – but has the added pressure of knowing there are four other players breathing down her neck in the race for Singapore.
“I’m just going to try to bring my best game, try to play mean as I played today. That’s the way forward,” Svitolina said after breezing past Japan’s Nao Hibino 6-0, 6-3 on Thursday night.
“I’m very happy that I finished the match the way I played. I was really solid, it’s going to definitely give me confidence.
“I’m very happy I was dominating from the beginning and I was really, really angry today.
We’re in the race for Singapore and I want really bad to be there, so I had to step up and bring my best game. I’m trying everything.”
The top seed in Hong Kong, Svitolina has lived up to her billing, having also dispatched Australia’s Priscilla Hon 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.
She knows every point could be vital in sealing her place in Singapore later this month.
World No 1 Simona Halep, Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber, US Open champion Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki have qualified, leaving three spots up for grabs.
And it could be a photo finish over the next two weeks, with Svitolina in the running against Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova, Kiki Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka.
“I’m not relieved, it’s probably not the right word to say,” Svitolina said of her win on Thursday. “Of course, I don’t want to think so much about it, I don’t want to have this pressure in my head.
“There are four other players in the same position as me. I just go on the court and try to play the way I want to play. What happens, happens.”
Svitolina beat Wang 6-4, 6-4 in the last 32 of the US Open earlier this summer, with the world No 24 saying she has “nothing to lose” when they meet on Friday.
“I remember that match, I was playing well, striking the ball really good,” Svitolina said. “I’ve played her a couples of times so I know what to expect.”
This year’s edition of the WTA Finals will be the last one held in Singapore, with the tournament moving to Shenzhen in 2019.
“It’s going to be in Shenzhen for the next 10 years, so it’s important for Chinese tennis to be doing well,” Svitolina said.
“With Wang and also Zhang Shuai, Zheng Saisai, they have good singles and doubles players. They have huge tournaments here in Zuhai, Beijing, Wuhan – so many WTA tournaments. It’s good for the Chinese crowds as well.”