One hour was what Elina Svitolina needed to book her spot in the fourth round of the 2018 Australian Open after she got past her tricky compatriot Marta Kostyuk, who has had an incredible fortnight having broken multiple records along the way. The fourth-seed continued her march for the title with a resounding 6-2, 6-2 victory, stamping her authority across the draw, and she will now face qualifier Denisa Allertova next.
Having received a wildcard into the qualifying draw, Kostyuk earned several impressive wins over higher-ranked players before upsetting 25th seed Peng Shuai in her first-ever tour-level match despite being born in 2002, at the age of 15. Although her run ended in the hands of the title favorite, it was an amazing performance for the Ukrainian which concluded with a nice hug at the net with Svitolina.
Kostyuk falters after bright start
Coming out of the gates firing, Kostyuk blasted multiple winners past her higher-ranked countrywoman in the opening game and claimed the best possible start — a break to open the match was her reward. Though, her happiness was short-lived as three consecutive errors, which ultimately proved to be pivotal, saw Svitolina breaking straight back to get on board. Recovering from a 0-30 deficit, the world number four’s solid serving saved her from the brink and allowed her to edge ahead on the scoreboard.
Playing with confidence, Kostyuk strolled through her next service game before the match-changing game arrived after barely 20 minutes. In what was the longest game of the encounter, the 15-year-old record breaker put up a tough fight and fended off two break points before crumbling on the third as Svitolina was finally able to convert her chances and breakthrough with a strong return. It was one-way traffic from there, as the fourth seed strolled to seal the first set 6-2 after 31 minutes.
Svitolina seals her spot in the second week
It was another tight start into the second set before experience proved its worth, as Kostyuk was the first to blink after a failed drop shot attempt. Asked about how she felt about today’s match and what she learned from this loss, Kostyuk responded with a smile on her face, “Well, a lot. How much you have to pay Svitolina to have one-hour lesson, so I got it for free.”
None of the games in the second set was brought to deuce and despite the one-sided scoreline, Svitolina was full of praise for her younger counterpart, “She has a great team around her, and she's already a great player.” Furthermore, it was the first time since 2008 that a Ukrainian progressed into the second week in Melbourne.
Impressively enough, Svitolina labeled herself as a contender for the title after winning 78 percent of her first serve points, losing just 10 points behind her serves throughout the match. Kostyuk’s monstrous first deliveries were formidable enough to threaten Svitolina but a low first serve percentage of 37 proved costly, and nonetheless, it was an amazing run for the defending junior champion having gone through the qualifying rounds to make her first WTA main draw appearance.