US Open 2019: Serena Williams dismantles Elina Svitolina to reach final
Elina Svitolina's bid to reach her first ever Grand Slam final was halted Thursday night at the US Open. The Ukrainian couldn’t handle the pressure exerted by Serena Williams inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, and suffered a 6-3, 6-1 loss.
This was the sixth time the two top 10 players were meeting. The 24-year-old last played the American at the 2016 Olympics, pulling off a major upset in the third round of the tournament.
With significant improvements to her offense and ball placement, the World No. 5 was hoping to back up her first Slam semifinal appearance two months ago at Wimbledon with a maiden Slam final in New York.
Since becoming a mother, Williams has repeatedly threatened to return to the pinnacle of the sport as she chases Margaret Court's all-time Grand Slam record of 24. After falling short in the final on the last three tries, the World No. 8 had to rely on keeping her cool and focus to slam the door shut on her opponent in yesterday's semifinal.
The opening game saw Williams sloppy on the first serve and Svitolina targeting the corners and forcing errors. But the Ukrainian made some errors herself which brought the 37-year-old to deuce. After three break points saved, the final rally saw the Ukrainian err on a slice.
Svitolina looked confident in the second game and went up 40-0, but she couldn't quite get the job done. Closing the gap, Williams went after the corners and nullified every game point that her opponent held before finally winning the break.
Williams resumed her charge in the third game, pulling off a hold to love. Svitolina then managed a service hold of her own by forcing a final error from Williams to end the American’s game-winning streak.
The Ukrainian then had three break points at 0-40 but Williams fought her off to get to deuce. The eighth seed then promptly brought the hammer down and opened a 4-1 gap.
Svitolina then went up 40-0 again but still couldn’t put away the game easily. She finally notched up her second game on an erroneous return from Williams, cutting the margin in half.
The American regained her three-game gap with a hold to love, giving her an early shot at the set. She couldn't get the break in the eighth game but she did take care of her own serve to grab the lead after 42 minutes.
The American had 19 winners and 11 unforced errors in the first set, which indicated she was close to her best.
The World No. 5 needed a good start in the second set and she got that by managing a strong hold. Williams then committed her first double fault, but closed out the game with some brilliant net play.
The 37-year-old then broke Svitolina to establish a stranglehold on the match. She won eight of the next 10 points and strengthened her grip by opening up a 3-1 lead.
Another dominant break of the Svitolina serve put Williams closer to the finishing line, and it was clear that the Ukrainian was running low on confidence. Williams won 13 consecutive points before giving Svitolina one in the sixth game with an error into the net.
At 1-5 Svitolina served to keep herself alive in the match, and slammed down a fifth ace to surge ahead. But Williams refused to relent, and the game went to deuce. After two break points squandered, a down-the-line backhand winner gave Williams the victory in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
The former World No. 1 now awaits Bianca Andreescu in the final on Saturday.