Fifth seed Elina Svitolina put on a masterclass on Thursday night in Toronto, blowing out the legendary Venus Williams in their third round clash at the Rogers Cup. The young Ukrainian took full advantage of some sloppy play from an off-her-game Williams, racing out to an early lead and never looking back, ending the American’s bid for a 50th career title with a 6-2, 6-1 victory.
Costly slow start from Williams
The American struggled to find a rhythm in the opening game, committing error after error. The mistakes would hand Svitolina the break in the first game. The shock of the early break seemingly to wake up Williams, as she began to find her range in the second game. Her big ground strokes began to torment Svitolina and three times the American used her power to set up break points. But the young Ukrainian did not back down, saving all three with big serves.
The missed opportunity seemed to discourage Williams, as she lost her rhythm once again on serve and handed Svitolina a triple break point opportunity with a pair of unforced errors and a double fault. She saved the first with an ace, but the youngster ripped a backhand winner up the line to make it a double break. Things would go from bad to worse as Williams sent a routine backhand long again on break point in the fifth game to give Svitolina a 5-0 lead.
To the Ukrainian’s credit, she was refusing to miss with her shots, returning everything Williams threw at her with pace and accuracy, keeping the American from developing any kind of rhythm. However, her high level finally dropped as she served for the set. She saved a break point with an impressive swinging volley at 30-40, only to double fault to give Williams a second look. The American would finally convert her fifth break point of the set to get on the board. After Williams held, Svitolina quickly silenced any doubts as she took a 40-0 lead and converted her second set point to wrap up the opening set 6-2.
Svitolina rolls in quarters
The young Ukrainian took full advantage of her momentum to start the second set, using some great defence at deuce on Williams’ serve to set up a break point. Still seeking any semblance of a rhythm, the American drove her forehand wide to once again trail by a break. Like the first set, Williams had a chance to break back quickly, this time holding a break point at 1-2, 40-AD, but once again fired her forehand wide. Svitolina would hold for 2-1.
The youngster was rolling, while the veteran continued to struggle, netting a forehand at 30-30 on her own serve in the following game before Svitolina ripped a passing shot winner up the line to take a double break lead. Serving to stay in the match, Williams drove her 27th unforced error of the match into the net to give Svitolina match point. The American’s 28th unforced error, a drive long, sent the Ukrainian into the quarterfinals after exactly one hour.
By the numbers
The statistic that sums up the match for Williams was her 28 unforced errors, with nearly every break coming as a result of an error. Her normally powerful serve was nowhere near its usual level either. Williams won a mere 45 percent of her first serve points and 30 percent of her second serves. She committed six double faults to only four aces and only saved one of the seven break points she faced. Svitolina was far better on her own serve, winning 71 percent of her first serve points, hitting six aces and saving five of six break points.
Svitolina awaits the winner between fourth seed Garbine Muguruza and Ashleigh Barty in the second round.