Birmingham | Svitolina progresses confidently
Second seed Elina Svitolina is maintaining the form which has seen her collect three titles this season, advanced into the last eight of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, with a 7-5, 6-2 defeat over France’s Alize Cornet.
She certainly produced some great rallies. But I was very happy with my performance and happy to be in the quarterfinals for the first time here Elina Svitolina
“I was expecting a good match with her (Cornet) because she plays well against the top players,” the 23-year-old Ukranian, was within a couple of wins of becoming world No. 1 earlier this year, said. “She certainly produced some great rallies. But I was very happy with my performance and happy to be in the quarterfinals for the first time here.”
A drive-volley and smash combination helped the Ukrainian break serve for the first time in the fifth game, and she never looked like relinquishing this advantage throughout the rest of the set.
With a long-term base in London, Svitolina said she is “a little bit English,” including a recent decision to acquire a home “so close, next door” to Wimbledon. There is no doubt where her immediate ambition lies.
She next plays Mihaela Buzarnescu, a 30-year-old Romanian, who is at a career-high No. 30, having been ranked 267th a year ago. Buzarnescu beat Petra Martic of Croatia 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile the 2009 champion, Magdalena Rybarikova had to rally past Kristina Mladenovic 3-6 6-2 6-1.
“I was playing much better in the second and third set, but I think Kristina was serving very well in the first set and I couldn’t somehow read the serves,” noted the Slovak who had dispatched the third seeded Karolina Pliskova in the opening round. “And even at the end of the first set, I knew she was going to serve a lot of wide, but I couldn’t hit the right return at that moment. Then she deserves to win the first set. She was better. Then I think I was playing much better.”
Qualifier Dalilia Jakupovic reached the quarterfinals when Japan’s Naomi Osaka had to retire with an abdominal injury after Slovenian won the first set 6-3.
Midlands-born Katie Boulter joined British countrywoman Heather Watson to earn a close victory in their first-round doubles match, overcoming Lyudmyla Kichenok and Alla Kudryavtseva 6-3 4-6 10-4.
It was a good day all around for Boulter, who was rewarded for her recent grass-court form with a wildcard into the singles draw at Wimbledon. “It means the world to me,” said Boulter. “It’s another day playing at Wimbledon, which you don’t get to do every day of the week. I’m so grateful for Wimbledon believing in me and giving me this opportunity.”