Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - Elina Svitolina reacts to winning her quarterfinal match at the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
Tale as old as time? Elina Svitolina summoned her best defensive tennis during Wednesday’s evening session to once again dig out of a tricky matchup against a talented, shot-making opponent. She advanced 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 over Marketa Vondrousova to reach her first semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open.
The first two sets were played at an even keel, with Vondrousova making adept use of her complicated lefty spins to throw the balance off Svitolina, while the latter’s top-tier fitness got yet another workout after three-set epics.
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The Czech was able to secure an early lead in the first set, holding firm on her winners to unforced errors ratio – only for the No. 6 seeded Ukrainian to strike back strongly in the second to level the match. The clash in styles – Vondrousova’s point building and forehand finishes versus Svitolina’s never-say-die approach to counterpunching – left both players out of breath, but fans on their feet.
In the third set, Vondrousova raced out to an early lead, only for Svitolina to claw her way back. Aided by a 73 per cent first-serve percentage, the reigning WTA Finals champion surged out of her own service games while pressuring those of her 19-year-old opponent, bending Vondrousova until she finally broke. On one final backhand error into the net after two hours, 11 minutes of play, the match was over.
Svitolina advances to the final four to face the in-form Bianca Andreescu, who recorded a ruthless 6-0, 6-1 win over former world No. 1 Garbiñe Muguruza the day’s first quarterfinal. The 13-time WTA titlist will need to muster her defensive best once again as she faces the Canadian’s blazing versatility and ability to hit winners from anywhere on court – otherwise it will be lights out.