Saturday, July 20, 2024

French Open: Comeback queens Svitolina, Pavlyuchenkova reach quarterfinals

Former World No.3 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and former Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the women’s singles quarterfinals at the French Open on Sunday, scoring contrasting wins here.

Svitoline continued her remarkable run in Paris, defeating No.9 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 7-5(5) to advance to the quarterfinals. The victory put the 28-year-old Ukrainian into her first Slam quarterfinal in just her fifth tour-level event since her return from maternity leave.

Pavlyuchenkova became the lowest-ranked French Open quarterfinalist in the Open Era after defeating Elise Mertens, coming back from a set and a break down.

After giving birth to her daughter Skai last October, Svitolina returned to competition earlier this spring in Charleston. After starting her season 0-3 at the tour level, Svitolina caught fire in her fourth tournament back, storming to her 17th career title in Strasbourg. By making her fourth French Open quarterfinal and first, since 2020, Svitolina extended her win streak to eight matches.

Svitolina will face either No.2 Aryna Sabalenka or 2018 finalist Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals.

Svitolina’s victory is the 35th Top 10 win of her career on the Hologic WTA Tour. It also extended her dominant head-to-head record over Kasatkina to 7-0. A semifinalist in Paris last year, Kasatkina was bidding to advance to her fourth major quarterfinal.

Svitolina raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set before Kasatkina, 11 unforced errors in the first five games, settled down and closed the gap to 4-3. However, Svitolina came through a tight deuce game to hold and extend her lead to 5-3 and then served out the set, winning a cagey 29-shot baseline rally to earn her first set point. The second set went on the same lines as Svitoline sealed her place in the last eight.

Pavlyuchenkova faced a tougher fight against Mertens.

The result puts Pavlyuchenkova, the 2021 runner-up, into her eighth career Grand Slam quarterfinal and third in Paris. Currently ranked No.333 as she makes her way back from a knee injury that sidelined her for most of 2022, the 31-year-old is the lowest-placed Roland Garros quarterfinalist in the history of the WTA Rankings.

Only five players have reached the last eight of any Grand Slam in the Open Era while ranked lower: Martina Hingis (No.349 at the Australian Open 2006), Kaia Kanepi (No.451 at the US Open 2017), Kim Clijsters (unranked at the US Open 2009), Justine Henin (unranked at the Australian Open 2010) and Tsvetana Pironkova (unranked at the US Open 2020), according to a report on the WTA Tour website.

Pavlyuchenkova, who needed 3 hours and 6 minutes to upset No.15 seed Liudmila Samsonova 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round, has now won two of the three longest matches of the Roland Garros women’s singles draw so far. Only Leolia Jeanjean, whose first-round win over Kimberly Birrell required 3 hours and 10 minutes, has gone longer.

Pavlyuchenkova will bid for a second Roland Garros semifinal place against Karolina Muchova, who ended the run of lucky loser Elina Avanesyan 6-4, 6-3.



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