WTA Brisbane: Elina Svitolina shocks world number one Angelique Kerber

The matchup between Angelique Kerber and Elina Svitolina can already considered as a new rivalry as they have already met eight times before this match, with the world number one leading their head-to-head record 5-3, with the Ukrainian winning their last match at Beijing in straight sets, despite Kerber already being ranked as the top player in the world by then. Svitolina was always able to trouble Kerber with her aggressive style of tennis and often punished her for being too defensive. This quarterfinal match at the Brisbane International turned out to have the same outcome as their previous meeting as the young Ukrainian ran out to a three-set upset, and create a huge upset to hand her another defeat as the world number one. It was Svitolina’s third victory over a reigning world number one, and all of them came in the last five months, which was very impressive.

Angelique Kerber in action | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac
Angelique Kerber in action | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac

Fast start for Svitolina

Known for her slow starts recently, Kerber was broken immediately by Svitolina to start the match with to clinch a perfect start to the match. The top-ranked player almost fell to a double break deficit but managed to maintain her composure to hold her serve and get her onto the scoreboard. The German then immediately got back level after she broke back to return the set on serve. However, the celebrations proved to be short-lived as the German saw the Ukrainian breaking to love in the next game, regaining her lead once again. This time, Svitolina did not throw away the lead as she held her serves all the way until the end of the first set to clinch it 6-4 after 42 minutes to be halfway to an upset.

Kerber bounces back

Svitolina had another fast start to the set and put her the favorite to close out the match when she broke serve in the opening game of the second set. Nevertheless, Kerber showed why she is the world number one as she broke back immediately to prevent Svitolina from running away with the match. There was not a break of serve that followed as both players were solid in their service games, and for the first time, the German was the one who made the first breakthrough as she broke to love in the eighth game for her to have a chance to seal up the opening set with a good hold of service. Despite Kerber losing a 40-0 lead in that game, she finished the only job she needed to do as she held in a nervy service game to clinch the second set 6-3.

Elina Svitolina in action | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac
Elina Svitolina in action | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac

Svitolina seals upset

Down an early break, Svitolina maintained her composure to immediately break back to love after Kerber made numerous unforced errors when trying go for the lines. It continued to be a tight affair as three consecutive holds of service followed. Svitolina finally earned the final break of the match at 4-3 as she prevailed in a 15-point marathon game, saving three game points in the process to have an opportunity to serve out the match. Svitolina did just that, serving out the match to 15 comfortably which got her the huge upset to reach the second round.

Next up for Svitolina

Her semifinal opponent would be Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Roberta Vinci in three sets. She has a devastating 0-4 head-to-head record against her, but she has played her best tennis all week long and would be looking for a second straight top 10 win to start 2017 with a bang.