Zhengzhou Open: Svitolina narrowly defeats Putinseva in three sets
Elina Svitolina had a tough return to action but edged into the quarterfinals by the skin of her teeth at the Zhengzhou Open Friday. The world No.3 had a bad start to her second-round match against Yulia Putintseva but rallied back in the second set before inching ahead in the third during the tiebreak to win 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5).
No more than a week since the Ukrainian’s semifinal appearance at the US Open did she find herself back in the thick of competition. After celebrating her 25th birthday, rain delays kept her from getting into a seventh battle with the Kazak who hasn’t notched a victory against her since their days in the ITF. With Svitolina back at her highest career rank, she would try to add more points as the road to the WTA finals closed in.
She opened the match with a break to love but got into trouble with a double fault during her service. It gave Putintseva the push to fight early but the inability to gain any advantage points put her two games down.
She rallied with a four-game winning streak tying together the double break as the Ukrainian made a second double fault that derailed her charge. The deficit was too much to recover from as the Kazak ran away with the victory with a strong first serve despite being broken back. It took her 42 minutes to gain a leg up on Svitolina winning more than a third of points in the set.
With a chat with Andrew Bettles during the set break, the 25-year-old turned things around and dominated the second set with another two-game run with a break in hand. Putintseva broke back in the third with a but was quickly silenced from then on.
Svitolina allowed eight points through the next four games that saw her even the match after 33 minutes to force a decider. Winning 13 of 19 on the first serve did the work to damage Putintseva’s return game that saw her score 32 percent of points.
The 24-year-old Kazak she opened the third set with another slip of the serve. Giving Svitolina another two-game start nearly led her on another path of mistakes but she recovered lost ground after forging a consistent run. Gaining the lead in the fifth, Putintseva tied with a break before she and Svitolina got into breaking one another into the ninth.
An important hold from the world number three led them into extra frames where even that didn’t determine a clear winner.
The tiebreak was all that was left and for Putintseva, a jump on points gave her a good chance. She broke the Ukrainian twice before opening a huge 4-0 lead. Svitolina broke back but lost another point setting up a huge task for her.
With a point won on serve, she took a small victory and notched a double break to get within reach. The Ukrainian leveled with a point on serve before taking the next two that ended with her breaking Putintseva for a close victory that took two hours and 35 minutes.