No.1 seed Elina Svitolina breezed past Mandy Minella in straight sets to reach the final at the Taiwan Open, where she'll take on Peng Shuai, who's into her second WTA final since her return from injury.
WTA Staff

TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan - No.1 seed Elina Svitolina is through to her first final of 2017 after a comfortable straight sets win over Mandy Minella at the Taiwan Open, 6-3, 6-2.

Svitolina found herself under pressure at the onset, with Minella drawing first blood and breaking Svitolina after a rollercoaster game for a 3-1 lead. But Ukraine's No.1 didn't let her keep the lead for very long.

"I was trying to be aggressive on the return, because she has a big serve," Svitolina said in post-match press. "I wanted to put more pressure on her, and I think this worked really well. She had a good start, but I was fine with it. I was just focusing on my strategy. I stayed quite solid."

The strategy paid off, with Svitolina quickly breaking twice to reel off five straight games and take the set. Minella couldn't find her way back into the match, surrendering two more breaks to send Svitolina through to the final after just over an hour.

Awaiting in the final will be the resurgent Peng Shuai after the Chinese knocked out birthday girl Lucie Safarova in straight sets.

"She's ranked No.71 now but I know she was much higher before she was injured," Svitolina said. "She's playing really confident, and she's also in the final in the same situation as me.

"I'm looking to the final with a positive mindset. I'm gonna bring my game to the table and be focused. It's the last match of the tournament, so you never know what's gonna happen. I will just try to be 100% and give everything that I have, and hopefully it will be a win."

Peng Shuai

Peng, who at 30 years old took home her maiden WTA title late last year in Tianjin, has been making her way back to the top after a long injury layoff. The Chinese player underwent major back surgery in 2015 after the French Open to treat recurring injuries and prolong her career.

"The doctors told me I should think twice before taking this operation and surgery," Peng said after her victory in Tianjin. "They said no one can make sure that the operation could be successful, 100%. The doctors performed this operation on me and told me there was a 50% possibility I could come back to the court.

"After the surgery, I needed to do a lot of training and practicing. Something I could do in the past, maybe I could not do it today after the surgery. I need to take gradual steps to improve myself after the surgery. I think more important for me is to stay healthy and fit, otherwise I cannot continue my professional career."

Ranked at a career-high No.14 in 2014, Peng's ranking dipped as low as No.768 in 2016 before her breakthrough on home soil in Tianjin. Now, less than three months later the Chinese player is back in a WTA final, just her second since her return to the game.

"I didn't think too much on court, just tried my best to fight for it," Peng said after her victory over Safarova. "It's hard to predict how well you can play, either in singles or doubles, I'll just play match by match. I'm very happy to be able to get into the final."