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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday April 23, 2021

 
Elina Svitolina

Elina Svitolina saved two match points in the second set to notch a comeback win over defending champion Petra Kvitova in Stuttgart.

Photo Source: Getty

The cliché: “Don’t stop believing.”

The reality: “I’m so close to going home.”

Tennis Express


The cliché and reality came face to face in Elina Svitolina’s mind on Friday at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, and somehow the mental toughness of the tough-as-nails Ukrainian pulled her through. Svitolina saved a pair of match points and rallied for a spirited 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-2 victory over defending champion Petra Kvitova.

“I was already thinking that I'm not going to win this match to be fair, to be completely honest with you, because obviously I didn't play so well, and I was thinking already that I'm going to home, maybe tonight,” Svitolina told reporters after her two hour and 37-minute tussle with the Czech. “But in the end, a few points here and there got me back in the match and then from 3-5, 4-5, I was already fighting and locked in for a big fight."

The victory marks the second time that Svitolina has saved a pair of match points en route to victory in 2021, and places her in the semifinals, where she will meet World No.1 Ash Barty.


Barty battled back from a set down, and a break down in the third, to defeat Karolina Pliskova in three sets on Friday.

Whether she’s able to continue her run in Germany or not, Svitolina has made favorable impression on the draw with gritty wins over Angelique Kerber and now Kvitova, a player that she had once lost to seven times in succession.

But the feisty Svitolina has hit back against the Czech and now owns three consecutive wins against her.

"For sure I always wanted to play well against her because I think she's a great champion and you want to challenge these kind of players,” Svitolina said. “For the past few matches that we had it was always a big fight, good matches, good quality of the matches, so it's really good to get the wins like that and I'm very proud of the performance for the past few matches that I showed."

Svitolina fell behind by a set and a break and looked to be headed home while facing her first match point at 2-5 down in the second set against Kvitova. She would survive it but her work was not done by any stretch.

Another match point came for Kvitova with Svitolina serving at 4-5, but the Ukrainian was able to draw the error.


“Point after point, I tried to erase the bad thoughts and tried to just play one point at a time and in the end it really helped me to fight through today,” she said. “It helped me to reset and to play pressure points, the one for example at 4-5 when I was serving, she was returning extremely well throughout the match, so I had to really be strong and play well at the pressure points and it happened in the second set and then third set, I was very solid and it really helped me, my mental toughness really helped me in the third set."

Svitolina ended up winning 11 of the final 13 games to improve to 4-7 lifetime against the Czech.

Halep Hammers Alexandrova

Players with a winning record against Simona Halep beware: the Romanian is coming for you. Yesterday Halep, seeded second, topped Marketa Vondrousa, the Czech that entered the week with a 2-0 record against Halep. Today it was Ekaterina Alexandrova’s turn to receive her comeuppance.

Halep took down the Russian, 6-1, 6-4, to snap a two-match losing streak to the World No.34 and level their head-to-head at 2-2.

The fast start to the clay season has pleased the World No.3 very much.

"Always I am confident when I start the clay court season, but this time was much better when I thought because I had a long break. These matches are really important for my mental, for myself, so I will take a big plus for these two days."

Halep will face either Anett Kontaveit or Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals.


 

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