No.5 seed Elina Svitolina will make her third consecutive appearance in the second week of Roland Garros following her eighth win in a row, a 6-4, 7-5 victory over unseeded Magda Linette.
“It was very strange match, because she was playing good and I was playing okay, but I think today was enough,” Svitolina assessed. “For me, on important moments, I played very good and that’s what made the difference. But for the rest, you know, my game was I showed today was enough, and I was very happy that I could finish in two sets.
“I was Love-30 down, 4-5 down, and I played some great tennis. So this is what I’m proud of. And, yeah, I’m looking forward for next match.”
The champion in Rome a fortnight ago, Svitolina is best known for her counterpunching skills, but in the first set showcased a new, aggressive side to her game. This was particularly evident on return, as the Ukrainian went for big shots from the very first stroke – though she scored no outright return winners, time and again she put herself in firm control of rallies on Linette’s delivery.
The 22-year-old’s approach, which also included hitting off both wings with more power and intention than has been in the case in the past, was a feast-or-famine strategy that saw her rack up 12 unforced errors – but it ultimately paid dividends in combination with an 88 percent winning percentage on her own first serve. She broke the Pole in the third game and eased her way to the set without facing a break point.
“It’s amazing that I play very consistent at Roland Garros, and I always come back and I feel very good,” Svitolina said. “For me, it’s very important to have consistency in my game. It looks like, yeah, it’s working good here.
“I had some good matches. I was playing some good tennis. Of course, I had some down times, but I think I recovered very good. Physically, I feel fine. Now, I have some matches under my belt and it feels good to be second week again here.”
Linette, meanwhile, was making her first ever appearance at this stage of a Grand Slam – indeed, prior to this year her sole win at Roland Garros had been a qualifying victory in 2011 over wildcard Claire de Gubernatis.
The World No.94 rose to the occasion, though, displaying some admirable net play in the first set – and pushing her seeded opponent even harder in the second.
The fifth game found Linette gaining her first four break points of the match; the 25-year-old was unable to take any, but a few games later took herself to within two points of the set with a flurry of finely struck forehand winners.
Svitolina’s reputation as a tough match player to put away is well-earned, though. Having become somewhat more passive in the second set, she stepped up with her own forehand to dig herself out of the 4-5, 0-30 hole.
In the next game, Linette’s luck went against her as she was broken courtesy of a dead net cord, but she could do little as Svitolina served the match out to love to set up a fourth round against qualifier Petra Martic.