Svitolina easily advances at Nature Valley Classic
Elina Svitolina had a solid outing at the Nature Valley Classic Wednesday afternoon. The world number five showed comfort on the grass court keeping her focus to defeat Alize Cornet in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 on Ann Jones Centre Court at Edgbaston Prior Tennis Club. It was the first advance for Svitolina into the quarterfinals of the tournament with more to come.
A sixth meeting between the two comes with their first match against one another on grass. The rivalry had been tight in three of their last five with the second set going deep into tiebreakers. Svitolina earned the series lead back in Madrid holding back the French star from forcing a tiebreak. Both played three sets to open their grass court seasons with the second round counting for a lot with much time needed to prepare for the year’s third slam of the year.
Cornet opened with a clean serve to love as her opponent couldn’t keep the rallies going hitting the ball into the net a few times on the forehand. She made up for it on serve in the second scoring crosscourt winners at Cornet leveling the score. The French star kept her game straightforward using the entire court of Svitolina’s to place shots far from her reach. She threatened in the fourth but couldn’t contain the breakpoint opportunity. The same went for the Ukrainian who had three break point chances letting Cornet right back in to force a deuce in the fifth. The world number five earned a fourth attempt that clinched the first break of the set to her name.
Svitolina gained a 4-2 on Cornet landing some open court points that frustrated the 28-year-old who also had unforced errors in the game to widen the gap. Avoiding the double break was successfully done by the French player who had a very good lob return on serve that just got over the net and out of touch from Svitolina. She stayed on serve with the second seed denying any further breaks as the Ukrainian sat a game away from the set.
She played every point with the focus on the forehand while Cornet had a moment of control but couldn’t turn the game around falling out completely in 38 minutes. While the contest had a clear winner, both players had an even show of offense with Svitolina maintaining a tighter ship going forward in the match.
She tried getting the break on Cornet’s serve but the 28-year-old had her intentions clear of defending her serve when necessary. With her leading the way, Svitolina had to match that of the French star that included a moment where a challenge didn’t quite show on the replay which caused levity on the court. With tension gone away during the break, the Ukrainian came out blazing with three break attempts getting it closed out with two left. She consolidated the hold with a double break on Cornet in the fifth making it a 4-1 hold.
When it looked as if Svitolina would not secure consecutive holds down 15-40, the 23-year-old struck back to force deuce and keep the pressure on Cornet earning the AD point and a 5-1 stance. The pressure was on the world number 41 to stay alive on serve in the seventh but unforced errors racked up handing Svitolina two match points. Cornet saved one with a solid ace down the line and an unforced error from the second seed forcing deuce. Showing a lot of confidence to stay in it, the French star captured the AD point and never let go making Svitolina earn it herself. With the ball in hand, Svitolina gained the third match point attempt to make that one a charm ending her day on the court in 1 hour and 21 minutes.
“I was expecting a good match and she was producing some great rallies and it’s just long rallies with her and I’m really happy with my first quarterfinal appearance and pleased about the match today,” Svitolina said about the match. “I’m very happy and I couldn’t ask for a better grass court season start so yeah I’m looking forward to Friday,” she said about her start to the surface. She’ll hope for more progress as she awaits the winner between Petra Martic and Mihaela Buzarnescu.