Rome Masters: Svitolina stops Kontaveit's run in straight sets
Elina Svitolina got back to where she belonged at the BNL Internazionali D’Italia Saturday. The world number four held off small problems while keeping the heat on Anett Kontaveit who lost in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3 on Corte Centrale at Foro Italico in Rome. The 23-year-old tennis phenom won her eighth consecutive semifinal match with one to go to hold off the last match in her way.
The defending champion stood one match from returning to the final where she could go for a third consecutive title defence. Standing in her way was the Estonian who had yet to reach such success but was close to a second career WTA title and the biggest one for her at stake. She remained the only player left in the tournament to not drop a set going 8-0 in Rome. With both unaware of each other’s skills, the match would begin with the strength of one bettering the other.
Svitolina came out with that thought and broke to love in the opening game against Kontaveit. She faced some challenges in the rallies against the Estonian but kept the fast start taking a 2-0 lead in the process. The Estonian got back in the mix penetrating the ball well that had Svitolina running for very tough shots but at times being caught off guard. It led to the 22-year-old to level back through four and consolidate a third straight against the Ukrainian.
Svitolina had enough of her opponent’s short dictation of the set and leveled the set on serve before laying down the break to lead once again. She laid down the groundwork in the eighth that gave her a 5-3 leading pressuring Kontaveit to falter on serve. The Estonian didn’t give up on serve and forced Svitolina to end things on her own terms.
That was exactly what the fourth seed did, speedily getting to two set points to end things in the match after 39 minutes. While the challenge to get the 6-4 win over the Estonian, plenty of good marks were made by the fourth seed scoring eight winners while limiting the errors to the same. The first serve percentage was on point to go into the second with some strength.
They split the first two games of the set breaking one another until Svitolina took the lead. Kontaveit held in the fourth but the Ukrainian was on a pace to stay out front and get to the goal at hand. With a break in the seventh, Svitolina built a solid winning streak that had her locking down the serve in the eight. With the chance to play for the match, the fourth seed wasted no time smashing shots back against Kontaveit’s shaky service that led to a couple of match point attempts that ended a quality performance for the Ukrainian ending her day in 1 hour and 14 minutes.
The world number four proved why she is the one to beat putting down ten winners in what was another quick match against a player who fell on the big stage. Svitolina holds a record eight wins in semifinals and has yet to lose in a title match. She’ll enter Sunday playing for a 14th career final between the winner of Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova.