French Open fourth round preview: Serena Williams - Elina Svitolina

French Open fourth round preview: Serena Williams - Elina Svitolina

Top seed Serena Williams' title defence continues as she takes on 18th seed Elina Svitolina in the fourth round of the French Open with a quarterfinal spot at stake.

tevon-king
Tevon King

World number one Serena Williams' title defence continues as she takes on 18th seeded Ukranian Elina Svitolina in the fourth round of the French Open with a quarterfinal spot at stake.

Williams overcame an almighty scare in the third round against 26th seeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic. It was an entertaining match on Court Philippe-Chatrier that got briefly interrupted by rain whilst Williams was a set up and squandered plenty break point opportunities to finish off the match before the delay.

Svitolina has been going under the radar at the French Open but she finally broke her Ana Ivanovic hoodoo, the 14th seeded Serbian knocked out Svitolina from the French Open in the past couple of years.

The three-time French Open champion is looking to secure her tenth quarterfinal berth but she will have her hands full with Svitolina.

How they got here

Williams was playing scintillating tennis in her opening two matches. She defeated a heavily strapped Magdalena Rybarikova in the first round 6-2, 6-0 and in the second round, she defeated Brazilian Teliana Pereira 6-2, 6-1.

Williams' third round match with Mladenovic was arguably one of the best women's matches of the tournament. Mladenovic matched Williams shot for shot and the 26th seed played well under pressure when she had to save multiple break points in the second set.

The defending champion would be pleased to have got through that match in straight sets as Heaven alone knows what would have happened had Mladenovic won the second set.

Svitolina has been equally impressive as she hasn't dropped a set during this tournament either. The 18th seed reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the French Open last year and she will be desperate to do it again this year.

Svitolina's first round win over Sorana Cirstea was significant as Cirstea reached the Mutua Madrid Open quarterfinals earlier this month and Svitolina took care of her really easily winning the match 6-1, 6-3.

The young Ukranian thrashed Williams' compatriot Taylor Townsend 6-3, 6-0 in the second round and in the third round Svitolina defeated the 2008 champion and 14th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-4.

The only negative Svitolina had in that match was that she squandered a 4-1 lead in the second set but luckily she managed to get the job done and she cannot afford to do that against Williams.

Svitolina in action against Ana Ivanovic on Day 7 of the French Open (Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Svitolina in action against Ana Ivanovic on Day 7 of the French Open (Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)

Their history

Williams and Svitolina have played each other three times, twice on hard courts and once on clay.

Williams won their first meeting in a Fed Cup World Group Playoff match between the USA and Ukraine which Williams won 6-2, 6-1, and Svitolina was only 17 at the time.

Their second meeting was a more competitive match. They met in the third round of the Australian Open which Williams won after dropping the first set 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 was the final score.

Their most recent meeting was in the semifinals of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati which Williams won 6-4, 6-3.

Who wins

Williams is the defending champion and she is chasing history. If she wins a fourth French Open title in Paris she will equal Steffi Graf's open era haul of 22 Grand Slam titles.

This match has an added storyline as Williams' former rival Justine Henin is in Svitolina's corner. Henin will give Svitolina some tips on how to trouble Williams on clay.

Svitolina is capable of taking a set off Williams and she has a good first serve like Williams and the Ukraninan is a hardworker and she can track down a lot of balls but Williams is a better player on clay than Svitolina.

This should be an entertaining match and Svitolina will need to play the match of her life, in order to upset Williams and reach her second consecutive French Open quarterfinal.

This match takes place third on Court Philippe Chatrier and the winner of this match will take on Yulia Putinseva or 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.

Prediction: Williams to win in two sets.

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