US Open 2019: Elina Svitolina hangs on to a straight-sets win over Venus Williams
Elina Svitolina had to work hard for the second time in the late end of her match but moved on at the US Open on Wednesday. The fifth seed defended and held back Venus Williams more than a few times in the match but won 6-4, 6-4 at Louis Armstrong Stadium in the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center.
It marked the third win against the tennis superstar and the second to come on the hardcourt surface.
A fourth meeting put the two in their second grand slam face-off where the leverage stood with the Ukrainian.
Svitolina has a win over the tennis veteran on the hard courts giving her a shot at pulling together another one to improve her US Open record.
The challenge Svitolina faced against the young American was a tough start but facing Williams allowed her to take the offense and dictate.
Svitolina began with good returns that drew errors from Williams to earn the early break. The 39-year-old tried to step up but let a few points slip away and give Svitolina the hold. She held firm to avoid going a double break down with a serve to love in the third.
Going for the break, Williams tried to notch a break but errors kept her from clinching the coveted AD point. After three breaks, the 39-year-old hit another forehand long to sit two down.
She battled hard on serve in the fifth to recover but Svitolina was still on lock during her service game to contain a lead.
Her strengths helped get her a double break on Williams to sit with a 5-2 stand and the tennis veteran close to sitting in a large hole. Frustrations continued to cause Williams to commit unforced errors losing her shot for the break.
On a second attempt, a good rally ended with Svitolina sending a crosscourt return just long to make it 5-3.
Cutting in closer for Williams was a heavy task as she overcame the mistakes to force deuce in the ninth showing key patience. Her second double fault handed Svitolina a third set point. But it was canceled out with a backhand return just missing wide.
The door opened for Williams after the second break where another long ball from the Ukrainian put her down a game from evening up.
With the need to hold off her opponent’s comeback, Svitolina battled hard to defend her end and on her fourth set point, it came on William’s 23rd error ending 49 minutes.
After a short break off the court, Williams returned to open the second set with a strong service game. Adding a break put the former World No.1 on the right track making good runs for the point while increasing the difficulty on rallies for Svitolina.
Overcoming a 0-40 gap in the third gave Williams a chance on deuce and get a 3-0 in the set. When it looked as if Venus had the problems off her shoulders, they returned only to leave the door wide open for Svitolina.
The errors in the fourth allowed the fifth seed to hold off a late push from Williams before breaking her with errors drawn out to consolidate. Movement from the 39-year-old also lessened on the court leading to a complete comeback for Svitolina.
The lead change came next with Williams committing her fourth double fault of the set and sixth total negating the start she put together.
Svitolina had a fifth game under her belt cruising through her service in the eighth to play for the match with her opponent in trouble.
Committing a seventh double fault was how the ninth game began for Williams. Despite getting back the lead, the Ukrainian forced deuce and gained a match point only to be away from a perfect crosscourt return from Williams.
A big mistake from the 39-year-old handed the fifth seed a second try but played long ball to get her to struggle with getting the ball over the net. The added pressure didn’t deter Svitolina who played eight breaks and 16 minutes but came up short to break Williams for the victory.
The 24-year-old was left with one chance left to get it done or see the match become harder. Drawing errors from the American was the key to her serving for the match and with a sixth attempt at getting into the third round, it was over on a long return from Williams to end the day in 1 hour and 52 minutes.
“It was a really incredible match,” Svitolina said to Pam Shriver of ESPN. “It was the best I’ve played making it really special to play Venus who pushed me to raise my level.” When asked about the turnaround Williams made winning seven of eight, the fifth seed responded about her tactics.
“I had to stay very focused and play every point to the last one and try to put one extra ball over the net,” she said. “I was expecting her to raise her level and she’s very experienced player and knows how to handle the moments like this. I was expecting a very tough and we could see in the end that a few points decided it all.”
With the gratefulness of getting her match done under weather conditions, the Ukrainian would go into Friday awaiting either compatriot Dayana Yastremska or Rebecca Peterson in the third round.