SHENZHEN, Nov 3: World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty spectacularly ended her jinx against defending champion Elina Svitolina to win the WTA Finals on Sunday and scoop the richest prize in tennis history.
Barty, who had never beaten Svitolina in five previous attempts, won 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 26 minutes at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre.
The Australian claimed a record-setting US$4.42 million paycheque � the largest sum ever awarded in men�s and women�s tennis.
Barty�s only loss was to late replacement Kiki Bertens and she became the fifth debutant to win the lucrative round-robin tournament.
�It�s been the most incredible year for me,� Barty said after the match.
Svitolina has not won a trophy since claiming the WTA Finals in Singapore last year, which remains the biggest title of her career. She had lost just one set before the final to be on track to claim a maximum prize of $4.725 million before falling short in the decider.
The Ukrainian had taken a liking to the slow indoor hard court, which has been criticised by other players, with her methodical counterpunching overwhelming opponents � but she was thwarted by an irresistible Barty.
�It definitely was a great week for me,� Svitolina said. �(Barty) had a great tournament and an amazing year.�
Both players, who served strongly in Shenzhen, comfortably held service until Barty faced trouble in the ninth game, but she saved a break point and dug deep when it mattered most to fend off Svitolina�s relentless defensive prowess. � AFP