Elina Svitolina let the match get away from her too early and couldn’t recover at the Mutua Madrid Open Sunday. Troubles with the knee and returning to action gave Pauline Parmentier her second career win over a top ten player winning 6-4, 7-6(6) on Stadium Three on the grounds of La Caja Magica.
The two got into their third match and the first in four years. They split the past pair of meetings that made the competition on clay very intriguing. The Ukrainian returned after a knee injury caused her a lot of pain and kept her away from action since Miami. With no action on clay, it left her with the hope of getting off on the right foot. The French star got a win back at Istanbul but nothing more, with a heavy challenge in the first round, the 33-year old would try to stick with Svitolina as best as she could.
In a surprising start, Parmentier etched out a break against Svitolina and secured the hold in the second. It was clear that the world number six had a lot of rust to brush off as she struggled on serve in the third giving the French star a chance on deuce. The Ukrainian managed to find a way to hold and avoid any further lost ground. The gap remained at two for Parmentier who held firm against the sixth seed and broke her again in the fifth.
Svitolina called for coach Andrew Bettles to figure out what to do in order to regroup. Asking her to find her range and keep her shape on the forehand. When Bettles asked how she was feeling, the look on her face told him to make use of calling the physio while she had the chances on court. It was an indication that the knee wasn’t yet ready to handle the competition. She fell 5-1 with the French player putting together comfortable forehand winners that the Ukrainian couldn’t answer.
A much needed game win for the sixth seed arrived in the seventh with Svitolina holding off Parmentier on serve. She added another with a break to love showing her willingness to fight back and recover fully. Svitolina made it 5-4 with another powerful service game that devastated the 33 year old as her chances to end the set continued to slip away. One last chance came in the tenth where she successfully shut the door on Svitolina’s efforts to take the set in 39 minutes.
When the second began, it was Parmentier back on the offensive taking a break in hand before locking down her first service game. The gap was not a good start for Svitolina as her uphill battle began with a hold in the third. The 33 year old kept her drive with the forehand well above average that had her ahead even after five. It was during the break that the Ukrainian called down Bettles who was at a loss on how he could help her.
She got even at three-all before a critical game in the seventh allowed her to lead for the first time in the match. Parmentier wasn’t ready to go anywhere as she answered Svitolina who had found a way to dig in. The Ukrainian’s service game was stronger than ever in the match that put the French star under pressure. She worked through the tenth game to get the hold and even up with Svitolina to keep her straight sets hopes alive.
Parmentier achieved the chance that was left to her as the two went into a second set tiebreak. Svitolina was first to open scoring taking the first pair of points but saw that the opposition was ready to respond. She got even just in time to up her game and make it a tough finish for the Ukrainian. It was soon one way traffic for the French veteran who took the next four points straight for match point. Svitolina saved it with a great crosscourt lob that soon gave her life again.
The sixth seed got within a point and saved three match points with another mistake by Parmentier that made it six-all. A huge point went to Parmentier who played terrific defense to gain her fourth match point that sealed the deal for her on the second serve. A return error from the world number six handed Parmentier the victory after 1 hour and 38 minutes.
With quite a well-rounded victory under her belt, the 33 year old had a lot to be pleased with the way she came out against the opposition. She would try to add on to the success taking on Yulia Putintseva in the second round.