Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - Elina Svitolina plays Ashleigh Barty in the 4th round of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)
On Wednesday evening, under the bright lights of Tennis Paradise, a women’s quarterfinal takes center stage. World No. 6 Elina Svitolina will battle surprise challenger Marketa Vondrousova, with a spot in the 2019 BNP Paribas Open semifinals at stake.
For Svitolina, her road to the quarterfinals has been anything but easy. After receiving a bye in the opening round, she faced stiff competition from Sofia Kenin, Daria Gavrilova and Ashleigh Barty. She was taken to a third set in two of those three matchups, forcing her to dig deep and overcome several bleak moments. While some may be quick to point out her shortcomings in the opening rounds, Svitolina proved her mettle with a never back down attitude that has her playing an unrelenting style of tennis.
It’s no surprise that Svitolina has made it this far (she’s been the higher ranked player in each of her three matches), but she’ll be looking for her first dominating victory of the tournament when she marches out of the tunnel and onto Stadium 1 on Wednesday. When Svitolina looks across the net, she might be surprised with who’s staring back at her.
Vondrousova is the No. 61 ranked player on the WTA Tour, and a player few expected to still be standing at the quarterfinal stage. In fact, her journey to Wednesday’s matchup has been a polar opposite to Svitolina’s. Other than her opening match, the Czech has been the lower seeded player in each of her contests, including battles with the No. 22 and No. 2 players in the world.
During her run in Tennis Paradise so far, Vondrousova has dismissed Laura Siegemund, Daria Kasatkina, Jelena Ostapenko and Simona Halep. In her convincing victory over Halep, the world No. 2, she capitalized on a stunning (8/9) 89% of her break point chances and overwhelmed the typically infallible Romanian.
While the top seeds of the women’s draw may not have thought much of Vondrousova at first, Svitolina and the rest of the field would be wise to reconsider. If the Ukrainian doesn’t, she could be the latest victim in the 19-year-old’s stunning ascent up the WTA rankings.