Elina Svitolina got through tremendous problems midway through her quarterfinal match to move on at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The 21 year old Ukrainian held off a break from American Coco Vandeweghe 6-4 1-6, 6-2 on Centre Court at the Dubai Tennis Stadium Thursday night.
The players met in Dubai last year where there match got cut short on the count of Vandeweghe becoming too hurt to play on. Svitolina took a 3-1 victory in the first round before being knocked out in the next round. She has been on track with the new help from Justine Henin that so far has produced good victories including straight set knockout against second seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.
Moving into the quarterfinals left very little competition in the way but both Svitolina and Vandeweghe would have to prove their skills were up to the challenge against one another before an advance to the semifinal could be secured.
The two had great answers on one another holding serve through four games playing even tennis. Svitolina kept the service alive in the fifth game then broke Vandeweghe in the next two games to take a 4-2 hold. The American climbed back to take the seventh but fell afterward for the Ukrainian gained a 5-3 lead threatening to close out the set.
The breaks continued on helping the American stay alive in the set as she battled through a deuce draw on two breaks getting within reach of Svitolina. The Ukrainian battled against Vandeweghe’s service in Game 10 holding her off just enough to sweep up the set in her favor. Svitolina kept her first serve in check landing 13 of 21 shots on the first serve but despite having just three winners, it was her opponent who helped her to leading after 43 minutes. The American’s troubles were on both double faults and unforced errors that silenced her ability to land two aces and 13 winners.
She made up for it winning against the 21 year old on serve with a double break for the 1-0 lead. She kept her strength and will to win alive and well producing another win to her name. Svitolina got out of trouble in the third getting back control on her serve to split the gap in half.
Problems continued to stick with the Ukrainian as her second serve caused double faults while the returns weren’t good enough. It cost her dearly as Vandeweghe walked away in the set with a 4-1 commanding hold. Iian Hughes came out to speak to Svitolina and calmed her down in order to get his athlete back into action.
She was still in the set but not enough to make a comeback and Vandeweghe kept the heat on high to get through the set swiftly winning a perfect triple break against Svitolina. While it was a brutal set for the high ranked Ukrainian, the American felt that her game had arrived to give everything on court in the deciding third set. It took her 28 minutes to break down Svitolina who had four double faults and 15 unforced errors in the set despite her opponent serving at 31 percent.
The American kept the fire alive in her game taking a sixth straight win against a frustrated opponent. Svitolina let her anger out on court releasing grunts on her returns in the second that had her fighting to level up. She was denied the pleasure as Vandeweghe held things on deuce to maintain her winning streak.
Svitolina changed things up in the third to such a degree that it gave her a much-needed win to get into the set. She kept the pace going in Game Four where another win came on an improved service against Vandeweghe leveling at two all. A sudden confrontation occurred between Vandeweghe and the umpire as she issued a time violation to the American for taking too long during service.
Her time between points was 25 seconds, which the umpire caught on to. An angered Vandeweghe let her opinions known which delayed the game from continuing. After losing the game, she slammed her racket down causing coach Craig Kardon to come out and calm her down. Svitolina had the lead in hand and served up a great force to her opponent walking closer to the match win.
A fight to stay in it for Vandeweghe occurred in the seventh as she tried to hold her serve but was forced into deuce. In the end, Svitolina marched towards her fifth consecutive win serving for the match in what was a solid comeback. Vandeweghe had other ideas to stay alive as she fired back huge returns in the Game Eight to force deuce with Svitolina.
Two breaks that ended with a huge return set the Ukrainian up for match point. She got it with plenty of aggression on the ball causing Vandeweghe to lob the ball only to watch it fall at the bottom of the net ending the 1 hour and 57 minute match.
“It was a really tough match,” Svitolina told Annabel Croft during her on court interview. “I was struggling in the second set but I’m really happy that I could find a way in the third and really happy with the finish on my serve so it was a good finish.” Despite the American having so many problems near the end, she was still a dangerous opponent that Svitolina did very well holding off in the final set. “I was trying to react fast and move fast and i think it worked in the end chasing the ball in the end and push her to go bigger and I’m really happy,” she said about playing against Vandeweghe. She’ll see plenty of power when she faces Sara Errani in the semifinals Friday night.