Silicon Valley Classic 2019: Sakkari earns her revenge against Svitolina to move forward
Elina Svitolina had a target on her back and the damage done took her down at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic Friday. The 24-year-old who defeated Maria Sakkari last month lost control and gave the Greek too much time and enough fight to win 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 on Stadium Court at San Jose State University.
The two met back at Wimbledon where their third-round matchup went the distance with Svitolina reaching her second round of 16 that wouldn’t be her end. The Ukrainian went on to make her first-ever grand slam semifinal before taking time off.
Wednesday’s clean win over Daria Kasatkina in her debut at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic had her back in fine form on the hard courts. With both even on the surface, the top seed of the tournament wouldn’t find her match easy against the Greek who eyed another run at the title.
The opening game was highly contested as Svitolina eyed her chance from 0-30 down to force deuce. She killed off an AD point chance from Sakkari before clinching her first for the break.
The Ukrainian held the second but not without a fight from the Greek who forced but lost on the first break. Svitolina gained a 3-0 lead with yet another hard fought game. Sakkari avoided a break point to force deuce but couldn’t get an AD point opportunity.
She managed a big rush to game point in the fourth but went to deuce by the top seed only to lose her chance at securing another hold. Despite getting one on the books, the Greek star faltered through the next three games with critical errors that gave Svitolina the first set but not without some energy invested. The two went at it for 38 minutes with the number one seed needing five set points to get Sakkari finished.
She knew that the pace couldn’t continue if she wanted to hold the set lead well. On serve to start the second set, Svitolina held serve for the first time prior to deuce in the match. Sakkari followed with a strong hold that led to the two a comfortable stance on court. A key break for Svitolina gave her a 3-1 jump and was able to consolidate the fifth giving Sakkari just one point in the game.
When she reached 5-2, Sakkari answered with a roar of offense that clinched her first serve to love. The rush caused Svitolina some concern as she went to deuce to avoid a break. After killing off two more, the number one seed reached match point but was denied three times. After seven breaks, it was the Greek star scoring the massive win that put her a game down from pushing the set on.
With new energy, the seventh seed battled off a deuce fight from Svitolina where a match point opportunity arose but soon faded with the Greek star taking the next two AD points chances for the victory. A break to love gave the 2018 finalist a 6-5 positioning to try and force a decider into action. Svitolina took a conference with coach Andrew Bettles who told her to take the ball on and give Sakkari less time to react.
She did just that as the Ukrainian broke to love setting up a tiebreak that gave her one last chance at taking the match in straight sets. It wouldn’t come to pass as Sakkari gained the lead after six points traded off and gained three set points to win it on an error ending one hour and seven minutes.
It was clear that for a second straight time, the players were going the distance like they did at Wimbledon with Sakkari looking for a different outcome. She found herself broken in the opening game but managed to break back with a push forward. They got on serve where after the fourth, both were even. The seventh seed held in the fifth and consolidated it with a break that widened the gap with Svitolina struggling on the returns.
Sakkari’s hold in the seventh gave her a real chance at putting the match away but it didn’t come against the Ukrainian who refused to go out that way. It went into the hands of the Greek who put together a winner and an ace before achieving three match points. On the second serve, the seventh seed let Svitolina make the last mistake that brought a close to what was a terrific comeback that took 2 hours and 32 minutes to do.
With one step between her and a second consecutive final at the tournament, Sakkari would prepare to match against American Amanda Anisimova on Saturday.