US Open 2019: Elina Svitolina enters semifinals with 6-4, 6-4 win over Johanna Konta
In a match that came down to the smallest of errors, Elina Svitolina held her nerve to cruise into the semifinals of the US Open as she thwarted a strong challenge from Britain's Johanna Konta and emerged victorious by a 6-4, 6-4 margin at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
In terms of head to head records between the duo, the Ukrainian had a mighty 4-0 lead ahead of the game but the game on Sunday, which featured Konta squaring off against World No.3 Karolina Pliskova hinted that history could be changed.
The tenacity and strength Konta brought to the fore to upset meant only that yet another upset was certainly on the cards. This was Svitolina and Konta's first meeting in a Grand Slam and with the former seeking out her second consecutive major semifinal and the Brit looking for her third, the momentum in the match was certain to swing like a pendulum.
Strong service games started the opening set with Konta leading the way against Svitolina. Each got the other deep into rallies, but no breaks were apparent for either as they held through four games. In the fifth, Svitolina had the first breakpoint but a long ball past the baseline saved Konta’s serve. The Brit battled through two breaks but enabled a second chance for the fifth seed, who converted the advantage to take the lead.
Svitolina's move to up the ante to consolidate a break was challenged by the Brit, who overcame a three-point streak and broke back to keep them level. A key mistake on a drop shot in the seventh game gave the Ukrainian another break chance.
In order to avoid another break, the fifth seed held firm on serve but dealt with some late changes to Konta’s return tactics. Handling the situation, Svitolina pressured unforced errors from Konta to open the gap on the scoreboard and play for the set.
Konta made sure not to let it end on her service and sealed the deal to get back into reach of extending the set. Svitolina had no intention of letting her serve to go waste and with drawn errors from Konta, the fifth seed got the job done to seal the first set after 49 minutes.
The second set followed a similar template to the first with Svitolina staying with Konta until her chance for the break came in the fifth game, with the Brit trailing in the game. She forced deuce but the first advantage point was the last as the fifth seed locked it down for a 3-2 lead.
Konta fought to avoid going down two games battling Svitolina to deuce and saved key points. Three was the charm for Konta, who delivered a great baseline lob that just went over the net as Svitolina was in position to return the ball.
Having lost a golden opportunity to hold on to an advantage, Svitolina captured the double break on Konta, who erred quite frequently. Soon, the Ukranian held a 5-3 lead and looked confident of sealing the match on her serve.
Konta erred continuously as she soon fell behind but gained a point back on a long return from the Ukrainian. A second error leveled the score for the Brit but a bad hit off the racket giving Svitolina match point.
Svitolina erred that saved Konta for the second time in the match and after a few breaks of deuce, the Brit saved a second match point that kept her alive. Svitolina again found her chance to serve for the match and with great response during a wide crosscourt rally and aggressive response, the 24-year-old won her way into the semifinal just as she watched a long cross court return land wide, ending the match in 1 hour and 40 minutes.