Hong Kong Tennis Open: Svitolina wins in straight sets over Hon
Elina Svitolina ended what felt like a long slide at the Hong Kong Tennis Open Tuesday night. The world number five snapped a three-match losing streak with a straight sets win over Priscilla Hon which she took 6-2, 6-3 on centre court at the Victoria Park Tennis Centre. While there were moments of control slipping out of her hands, the 24-year-old with her support staff in reach helped her get back on track.
The two never met before in competition making it a challenge for the young Australian but more important for the high ranked Ukrainian. Svitolina dropped her last three matches in a stunning fashion where she lost in three sets each time. Her run in Asia hasn’t been strong in previous years and with the newest acquisition to her coaching staff, the world number five needed improvements to hold her place. Hon struggled to make the main draw of tournaments recently and somehow found her way to play in Hong Kong. She would try to make it a tough outing for Svitolina and pull off an upset that would go a long way.
After blanking Hon in the opening game, the 20-year-old fought to hold her own before successfully getting the edge on the Ukrainian in the second. Svitolina kept ahead on the score but knew it would take a lot more to gain more control in the set. She earned a break in the fourth but faced a break back from Hon who caught Svitolina out of place for the winner. A second straight winner put her an inch closer to levelling the score with the top seed.
She tried getting it done in the sixth with two break points but Svitolina countered to force deuce for herself. Though it felt like more than two breaks, the 24-year-old gained the break needed to double the margin and get back to speed. She consolidated the break with a hold in the seventh allowing Hon two points before the end arrived. Hon committed a double fault but recovered with an ace. She had some speed in her serve that Svitolina managed to get lucky earning enough points to go for the set. She got it with plenty of focus that brought an end to 30 minutes of play.
The second started with Hon increasing her presence on the court by breaking Svitolina in the opening game. The number one seed broke back in kind before consolidating it with a hold in the third giving Hon just two points in the process. The Australian held to gain a footing in the fourth but would continue to face Svitolina’s mission to get done quickly. She made it 3-2 giving Hon just one point on serve before opening the gap to her benefit.
The 20-year-old wouldn’t let Svitolina get out of reach making sure to hold her own in the sixth. She challenged the number one seed in the seventh where she had to force deuce on serve. She played every point to win it after two breaks to gain the lead back before calling out Andrew Bettles for some encouragement. Hon also received some words of positivity that gave her a third ace to begin service in the eighth. A winner made it 30-0 before she put down a lob shot that frustrated the Ukrainian.
A double fault was beginning of a turnaround for Svitolina who nailed a point before an unforced error from Hon got her to deuce. With a challenge going her way, she fired an angled crosscourt before watching her get to it. Svitolina was standing at the right place at the right time to put the winner down and lead 5-3 with the ball in her hands. With the focus on lock, Svitolina had Hon in trouble which led to the 24-year-old clinching the victory in one hour and ten minutes.
With the luxury of having the day off Wednesday, Svitolina would practice before her second-round match Thursday coming against qualifier Nao Hibino of Japan.