It was a second-ever meeting between Katerina Siniakova and Elina Svitolina. They first met at the US Open a thrilling three-setter as the Ukrainian edged it in the end. If their US Open match was going to be an indicator of their Australian Open match, it was going to be a good one.
The Ukrainian edged out Siniakova 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Svitolina will now take on Marta Kostyuk, her countrywoman in the third round. Kostyuk, the 2017 Girls Champion in Melbourne Park is only 15-years-old and defeated 25th-seeded Peng Shuai and Olivia Rogowska to reach the third round. She is the youngest player to reach a Grand Slam third round since Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the 1997 US Open.
Siniakova Powers Through Opener
The world number four came out firing on her serve. In under a minute, she eased to a love hold which saw three aces against the Czech. Meanwhile, Siniakova's serve started out with a 21-shot rally capped off by an overhead winner. She held early as well, countering the punishing groundstrokes from the Ukrainian with some of her own.
Siniakova was the one who had trouble on her serve first, being pushed to deuce. A huge unreturnable serve and an errant forehand from Svitolina put the Czech back on track. Svitolina fell into a 0-40 hole after a crushing forehand winner and a couple of forehand errors from the Ukrainian. Frustration kicked in from Siniakova after being unable to capitalize on her opportunity.
More frustration kicked in after going down 15-30, the Czech hit back to Svitolina but saw her shot go long to set up double break point for the world number four. A couple of improved points from Siniakova saw the 21-year-old Czech bring it back to deuce. She kept hanging in there, saving a third break point on an unreturnable serve down the tee and then a fourth with a backhand winner down the line. Siniakova captured the game on the 14th point as she knew keeping herself within reaching distance in the set was important.
Siniakova began to attack the second serve of Svitolina in the seventh game. She began to stay inside the baseline and those adjustments paid dividends as she earned herself a couple of break points. The world number four had an excellent look at saving the first break point but sprayed the forehand long to give the 21-year-old the break.
Within the last couple of games, the Czech looked like the better player of the two. With three game points to extend her lead, Siniakova was putting the pressure on some huge groundstrokes. She held for 5-3 as the fourth seed had to hold to stay in the set. The Ukrainian held quite comfortably to force Siniakova to serve out for the set.
On set point down, Svitolina had Siniakova on the run to get it back to deuce and an errant forehand from the Czech set up break point for the four seed. The 21-year-old was up to the task of saving the break points she faced, and an errant forehand put the Czech up a set after taking the opener 6-4.
Svitolina Cruises In Second
Svitolina opened the second set with a comfortable hold, something she needed after going down a set. In the ensuing game, Svitolina was unable to convert yet another break point, but it was eighth time lucky for the fourth seed as she got the break that eluded her in the opener.
Despite going up a break and holding three game points, Svitolina's second serve was absolutely being punished still, punished to the fact that she went down break point before saving it. It was a battle for each woman in this game. An eight-minute game saw Svitolina hold to move up to 3-0 in what could be a turning point within the set.
Siniakova got on the board in the fourth game, but her inordinate number of unforced errors was what kept the fourth seed ahead as Svitolina moved up to a 4-1 lead. An unbelievable stretch volley put Svtiolina up 15-30 as more unforced errors from the 21-year-old Czech put her down a double break. Trying to close out the set, Svitolina got a little tight. A couple of double faults and loose points gave Siniakova one of the breaks back as the set was not done just yet.
Despite getting the break back, Siniakova took a medical timeout and went back to the locker room. The seven-minute medical timeout just left the Czech completely "cold". She lost three straight points to put her down triple set point. She righted the ship by getting it back to deuce. Despite that, Svitolina took the second set 6-2 after a backhand into the net from the Czech.
Svitolina Closes It Out
Siniakova continued to attack the second serve of the 23-year-old Ukrainian but a badly missed overhead set up game point for Svitolina who got away with trying to save a break point and instead held to open up the final set. The fourth seed found herself three break points up with some aggressive tennis. Siniakova countered with her own power tennis, but once again, an unforced error gave Svitolina the break to put her ahead.
The Ukrainian held for 3-0 as the unforced error count continued to rise for Siniakova. Right on the two-hour mark Svitolina broke for a commanding 4-0 lead as it looked like there was no road back for the Czech, who despite her brilliant play, was quite erratic throughout the match. Siniakova was able to get one break back as she tried to keep herself in the match. However, it all looked too little too late for the Czech as she was broken for a third time in the set on a forehand into the net to go down 1-5. Svitolina let out a huge "Come on!" as an unreturnable serve helped her close out the match in three sets.
Both players were poor on break point conversions, going for a combined 9/30 (3/10 for Siniakova and 6/20 for Svitolina). When the first serve went in for Svitolina, she won nearly 70 percent of the points compared to just a measly 56 percent for Siniakova.
The telling stat of this match was Siniakova's unforced errors though. The Czech hit nearly 60 unforced errors in the match.