US Open 2019: Svitolina rallies over Keys to move into the quarterfinals
Elina Svitolina had a strong service game and kept the pressure high to move into her first US Open quarterfinal on Sunday night. A relaxed and focused straight sets win over Madison Keys ended her opponent’s 10 match win streak at Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 7-5, 6-4 result at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center. The 24-year-old officially marked her place in the quarterfinal of every single grand slam.
This marked the fourth match between the two with the American leading the series including her win two years ago. The Illinois native had yet to drop a set and held off Sofia Kenin from getting a leg up on her in the third round. The world number five had a similar result against Dayana Yastremska who she blanked in the second set.
Having yet to drop a set, the two top ten players would likely go to the brink of their match. Svitolina once again had a chance to surpass her round of 16 finish and would have a challenge getting any leverage against the 2017 finalist of the tournament.
The American opened with a 111mph ace but struggled with the first serve at times. She managed to hold serve against the fifth seed but found little chance of breaking the Ukrainian.
After five service holds, Svitolina had a slight edge winning 9 of 9 from the first serve. Her first double fault was committed in the sixth but held firm to remain even with Keys. The fifth seed produced a chance for a break in the following game, but the defense from the 10th seed shut the opportunity down maintain the pace for her benefit.
After the four-all tie, Keys not only upped her ace record to six but sent it to Svitolina at 122 mph. It set up a strong service hold from Keys pressuring the Ukrainian to falter. Errors assisted in the tenth straight service hold with Svitolina gaining a shot at the set. The backhand let the American down setting up two break points but a recovery of crosscourt winners brought the tenth seed to deuce.
Two smothered forehands gave Svitolina the break needed to serve for the set at 6-5.
A good net-front crosscourt opened scoring for the world number five who painted the line on a great return. With an error giving her two set points, Svitolina watched a wide return from Keys put the set to rest after 38 minutes. It was the 21st of the set that practically negated the 20 winners she produced.
To get back on the right track, Keys put together a strong service game in the second set. Svitolina looked to take advantage but committed the second double fault of the match. Errors blew her 40-0 start but held with another forehand from Keys going into the net. An early break arrived for the Ukrainian as the errors from the 10th seed racked up quickly. They returned to service holds where the lead remained with Svitolina after seven.
A key hold made it 5-3 for the fifth seed putting Keys on the edge with a hold needed to stay alive. Drawn errors by Svitolina kept the American in the hunt with a line drive winner clinching the ninth on serve. The fifth seed cruised to victory with Keys continuing the onslaught of backhand errors that finished the match in 1 hour and 14 minutes.
“It was really good serving for me tonight,” Svitolina said to ESPN. “I was feeling very good with my footwork as well and very pleased that I could play very consistent tonight and to play in such a great atmosphere is very special.”
It was the first time Keys lost a match at night ending a decade long streak of success. With the motivation moving her into Tuesday match against Johanna Konta, Svitolina had her eyes set on further progress.
“It’s gonna be another great battle and looking forward to facing her,” she said. “We always had some tough matches and for me, it’s gonna be another challenge which I’m going to accept and go out there and play my best game.”