Elina Svitolina was well focused on the goal to make the third round of the US Open Wednesday. The seventh seed had Tatiana Maria figured out making it a difficult day in a symbol of revenge to win in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 at Louis Armstrong Stadium at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center.
The two faced off in their sixth career meeting and the second this season. Svitolina was ready to repay the German for knocking her out in the first round at Wimbledon. While grass isn’t her forte, the world number seven had a history of defeating Maria on the hard courts. The same went for the 31-year-old who got split the surface wins way back during their ITF days. With plenty of progress in their careers since then, the two stars would duke it out as Maria eyed making it out of the second round for the first time while Svitolina looked for improvement to another slam run.
Maria earned the chance to serve and came out with an attack that had Svitolina aware of her opponent’s movements. She answered back with some tricks of her own that gave her a break point chance. The two got into a pop fly rally where a chance to put the ball away for the Ukrainian turned into deuce. A crosscourt passing shot gave her a second chance which Maria gave her on a long ball return.
She managed to break back in the second indicating her push to dictate when the time came for her to do so. They continued to play aggressively near the net with Svitolina getting the double break in hand. A first hold came to the seventh seed to gain a 3-1 lead over the 31-year-old performing her game plan exactly as she wished. Earning another break didn’t come into her hands as she erred on two forehand returns that smacked into the net giving Maria a chance to level back.
Svitolina refused to let up on her service game in the sixth to recover the two-game margin. A double fault got Maria into trouble that produced errors giving Svitolina three break points. The German made up ground with two forced winners but widened a return to fall three games down with Svitolina serving for the set.
She smoothly put things away with three set points ending the eighth with her second chance scoring on a heavily efforted return that popped far enough for Maria to be unable to accurately get back in. It was a 32-minute victory for the 23-year-old who had the first serve and her return game doing all the work with ten winners and 10 of 16 points won from the net.
Svitolina was being rewarded further for her homework on Maria as she readied herself on her opponent’s sliced returns during the rallies that gave her three break points in the opening game. Maria tried to change it up but errored on the forehand to fall a break down. Svitolina continued with her own offensive strategy to make it a hard day for the German who struggled to keep up with the Ukrainian. She managed to get a hold of her serve for the second time in the match bringing an end to Svitolina’s winning streak.
The seventh seed got back to business with an impenetrable service game that was as hot as the court was. Maria was heating up herself when it came to holding her service game a second time wanting to put together an assertion of enabling a third set by all means. A chance to break for Maria was foiled by a simple error that sent her over the edge after missing a shot near the net. She slammed her racket into the net in frustration as the gap widened.
She found a way brush off her mistakes in the seventh winning a serve to love on Svitolina to try and keep her in touch. The world number seven didn’t agree with that idea and focused well in the eighth to lock in a 5-3 stance with the want of breaking Maria apart. The 31-year-old faced tremendous pressure but played well to start her service game. The smallest errors gave Svitolina the opportunity to end with two match points but lost them on a bad shot back that went wide forcing deuce for Maria.
While she tried to keep calm and hold her serve, Svitolina’s intentions to finish the match were apparent scoring a net-front point that brought a third match point attempt. On a clean return, Maria brought a close to her tournament with a hit into the net clinching the win for the seventh seed that ended 67 minutes of play. “I’m very happy and pleased with my game today,” Svitolina said to Andrew Krasny after the match. “I knew what I had to do. It was just the matter that I can play and do so yeah I was ready and happy with the way I played.”
With a break before her third round match, she’ll keep herself focused to play Friday against the winner between Irina Camelia Begu and Qiang Wang.Published 29 Aug 2018, 22:24 IST