Elina Svitolina found herself flattened at the hands of Jennifer Brady in the first round of the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships Tuesday afternoon. With no clue of how to arrest her slide, the third seed allowed Brady to race through match for a crushing 6-2, 6-1 win.
This marked the second top 10 win for the American this year, and the second in less than two months.
The two were facing off for the first time in four years, with Svitolina having taken down the American in straight sets in their only previous meeting. But Brady has grown a lot as a player since then, and it showed in her fearless hitting on the day.
Last year was the first time that the Ukrainian had failed to defend her title in Dubai, which she had won twice before. This latest loss means she has suffered her worst finish at the tournament in four years.
Brady opened proceedings with a hold that was followed up by an equally strong game from Svitolina. They remained on serve through five games, with the third seed having a slightly easier time of it than the American.
But it was Brady who got the first break, for a 4-2 lead. Her firepower off the ground then helped her rack up a third straight game, putting Svitolina in deep trouble.
The Ukrainian called down coach Andrew Bettles, who told her that her serve was too flat, and that she needed to improve her footwork to overcome the three-game deficit.
Feeling discouraged going into the eighth game, Svitolina soon saw her opponent reach three set points. She saved one but couldn't save the second, which ended the set in 30 minutes.
Michael Geserer came down during Svitolina’s break off the court to speak with Brady about the plan that was running smoothly. The qualifier had won 72 percent of her first serve points, and eight of nine on second serve returns.
Also get: the full Dubai Tennis Championships 2020 Results
Hoping for a major change in fortunes, Svitolina came out with renewed vigor for the second set. But that didn't help much as Brady held to love.
The American quickly notched up a double break, and went on to win eight games on the trot to kill the contest. Svitolina committed three double faults during her downward slide and found little momentum in her shots to put pressure on Brady.
There was only one moment of joy for Svitolina in the set, as she managed to break Brady back in the fifth game to reduce the deficit. But she got broken right after that to give Brady a 5-1 lead, and the match was all but over.
Serving for the upset, the 24-year-old overcame a short deficit, reached set point and nailed down the victory - which took her all of one hour to accomplish.Published 18 Feb 2020, 17:33 IST