Svitolina’s Roland Garros run defies own expectations

HAVING given birth to her first child last October, Ukrainian Elina Svitolina admitted she never would have dreamed to reach a Roland Garros quarter final within eight months. But coming off a title in Strasbourg in the lead-up to the Paris event, Svitolina has ground her way through the first four matches to set up a massive last eight clash with second seed Aryna Sabalenka.

In her latest match, Svitolina won in a tight two sets over ninth seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina in an hour and 56 minutes, extending her head-to-head dominance over Kasatkina to 7-0. In what was her first quarter final of a Grand Slam since the 2021 US Open, Svitolina looked very impressive with 20 winners and 42 unforced errors better than her opponent’s 19 and 46.

Though not the most powerful player out there, Svitolina still produced three aces and was able to break six times to five, winning the second set in a tiebreaker 7-5 to close out the match. In what was largely a ground stroke match slogging it out from the baseline in long rallies, the Ukrainian – who defeated Italian 26th seed Martina Trevisan, Australian Storm Hunter and Russian Anna Blinkova in her previous matches – Svitolina stepped up when it counted.

Kasatkina is more than capable on clay, having reached the last eight in Paris on four occasions. On this day though, and despite Svitolina boasting a heavily taped right ankle after some long slogs out on the French clay, she used every ounce of her experience to get the job done.

“Daria has a very unique game style,” Svitolina said. “I had to adjust my game. Yesterday on the practice courts I tried to work on a few things tactically. Of course, there was a little bit of nerves in the second set but it’s quite normal, it’s a Grand Slam. Lots of little things are going on in the head. Just nice to finish this match in two sets.”

Even the former world number three had to admit she was not expecting to reach a quarter final of a Grand Slam within the first 12 months of her return from maternity leave.

“I definitely wasn’t dreaming about this when giving birth in October last year,” Svitolina said. “It’s unbelievable for me to be able to compete here and go all way to the quarter-finals. It’s a really special feeling. Hopefully I can push even further. I’m really motivated to give my everything for the next matches.”

Now ranked 192 in the world, Svitolina is likely to climb back inside the Top 100 with her performance in Roland Garros.


Sabalenka set up the match with Svitolina following a 7-6 6-4 victory over American Sloane Stephens. She was the only seed through to the quarter finals on the bottom half of the draw, with Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova taking down Belgian 28th sed Elise Mertens in a three-hour and nine-minute epic, 3-6 7-6 6-3. In the other match, Karolina Muchova continued her great recent form to topple surprise packet Elina Avanesyan in straight sets, 6-4 6-3.

In the men’s singles, crushing wins to top five seeds Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas ended the runs of some impressive lower ranked players. Djokovic easily took care of Juan Pablo Varillas 6-3 6-2 6-2, Tsitsipas ran away with it against Sebastian Ofner 7-5 6-3 6-0, while Alcaraz had the toughest encounter but was still far too good for 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 6-2 6-2. In the other match, 11th seed Karen Khachanov defeated another Italian in Lorenzo Sonego, 1-6 6-4 7-6 6-1.

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