Elina Svitolina had to earn the victory during another hard-fought match at the China Open Monday night. The world number three was forced into playing consecutive tiebreaks to defeat Yafan Wang 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1) on Moon Court at the National Tennis Center in Beijing.
The win not only helped her avenge a previous loss, but equally advance into the third-round of the competition. By now, she is used to overcoming tough obstacles - such as the one against Anastasija Sevastova on Sunday, winning in three sets.
With another promising start to the tournament, Svitolina looked to even the H2H series with a stronger showing than she had against Wang, losing in straight-sets back in March. While the Chinese star reflected on her keys to victory at that moment, she needed to be wary of the struggles she faced against a determined Ukrainian who set the pace quickly and looked to dominate from the early going here.
Wang opened with a break of Svitolina, recovering a 40-15 deficit to win on a break of deuce. Consolidating the break gave her a nice gap away from the 25-year-old, though she let it slip as Svitolina rallied back. A good service in the third, where she gave Wang just one point, soon had her opponent broken to level the scoring at two apiece. They returned to service holds through eight games, with both showing their high levels of competitive energy.
Despite committing six double faults, Wang continued capitalising on the service games that kept her deadlocked with Svitolina at five-all. Wang struck first in the 11th, achieving a key break to set up an opportunity to serve for the set. She was unable to get it done on serve in the following game, as Elina forced a tiebreak. It was still a set up for grabs before Svitolina established a mini-break, 6-4 up, to create two set points.
Despite saving one, Wang couldn't recover both and watched with frustration as she let fly into the net - ending the first set's action after an one hour and eight minutes. While the difference stood out on Svitolina's four aces and Wang's six double faults, the pair played similar levels of offense on serve which showed why the scores were so close.
Wang comes out firing to start second set
To start the second set, Wang came out firing and needed to. Having delivered a good service game, she consolidated it with another break in the following game. Despite Svitolina breaking back in the third, the world number three seemed helpless to stop the Chinese star surging ahead with momentum on her side. By the fifth game, she established a double break and earned another promising hold too.
After a coaching call with Andrew Bettles, Svitolina turned things around. Winning two games with an important break back, she levelled the scores. Wang regrouped to force deuce and halt Elina's momentum, but the frenetic nature of their battle wasn't over yet.
The Chinese star was again first to break and had a 6-5 lead, hoping she could force a deciding set. However, Svitolina's mettle was tested again and history repeated itself - holding in the 12th game to force a second tiebreak.
Scoring another mini-break as she did previously, this one was more comprehensive as she flew into a 5-0 lead. The Chinese player eventually got on the board but fired long during the seventh point, gifting Svitolina a multitude of match points. A great backhand crosscourt return put things away to avenge her opponent after two hours, eleven minutes.
With a day off on Tuesday, the world number three will await her third-round opponent that could put 20-year-old star Sofia Kenin in her path for the fourth time in 2019.