Svitolina battles on
Originally published on 17/01/18 00:00
The Ukrainian may have her extended her winning run to seven matches, but she was forced to withstand significant pressure in the unforgiving Melbourne heat before getting the better of KateÈina Siniaková 4-6 6-2 6-1.
The No.4 seed was under the cosh in the opener, but her erratic opponent, who had a medical timeout for a physical issue at the end of the second set, faded as the contest progressed.
“It was not easy, I was struggling a bit in the sun,” admitted Svitolina, who is looking forward to a spell in the shade. “She [Siniaková] played great in the first set. I gave her one break and the chance to dominate, so it was kind of my mistake.”
After bagging five titles last year, the Ukrainian is widely tipped to enjoy a deep run at the ‘Happy Slam’, but she is keen not to look too far ahead.
“Winning Brisbane and having a good 2017 was great, but this is a Grand Slam,” added the 23-year-old. “Every opponent is very tough, and as we saw yesterday, there are no easy matches here."
Her reward is a third round showdown with this year’s surprise package.
Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine, aged just 15-years-old, made history by becoming the youngest player to reach the last 32 of a Grand Slam for 21 years after a 6-3 7-5 success over Olivia Rogowska.
Siniaková fearless and courageous play enabled her to dictate proceedings in the early stages. Her backhand, especially diirected down the line, was a revelation and Svitolina was forced to clock up the miles in defence.
A single break achieved in the seventh game of the first set allowed Siniaková to move halfway towards an unlikely victory. Svitolina had been overpowered, however she did sqaunder ample opportunities to respond.
It was always going to be tough for the Czech to maintain such a high standard, and the unforced-errors began to flow from her strings at an alarming rate in the second set.
Svitlolina gleefully capitalised on her opponent’s drop in level and soon showed glimpses of the form that took her to the Brisbane title earlier this month.
The Ukrainian was in the ascendancy, and she kept her foot on the accelerator. Siniakova tried desperately to claw her way back into contention, but she was only able to nab a consolation game in a one-sided deciding set.