Eighth seed Elina Svitolina has advanced to the semifinals of a major for the first time in her career on her 28th appearance at a Grand Slam tournament with a battling 7-5, 6-4 victory over Karolina Muchova. Playing second on No. 1 Court, the Czech, the lowest-ranked player left in the tournament at 68th, raced out to a 4-1 first set lead.
The Ukranian rallied and broke Muchova as the 22-year old served for the first set at 5-3 and proceeded to win nine of the next 11 games to take a set and 5-2 lead. The Czech, who upset third seed Karolina Pliskova yesterday, broke and held to cut the lead to 5-4 before Svitolina closed out the match to set up a semifinal showdown with seventh seed Simona Halep.
The two players traded breaks to open the match before Muchova, using her unpredictable all-court game, using the serve and volley as a weapon at key times, ran off three straight games to take a 4-1 lead. She furthered her lead to 5-2 before Svitolina held for 5-3.
Serving for the first set, Muchova began spraying errors as the Ukranian broke back and held to further put the pressure on the Czech at 5-5. The world number 68 finally succumbed on the sixth break point, handing Svitolina a 6-5 lead.
Playing closer to the baseline and more aware of her opponent's exquisite drop shots, the eighth seed used one of her own on set point to draw Muchova into the net and put away a forehand volley to take a first set she seemed destined to lose in 49 minutes.
Muchova claimed the first two games of the second set, breaking when a forehand just clipped the sideline. That would be the last time she had any sort of advantage as Svitolina ran off five consecutive games to claim a 5-2, double break lead.
Serving for the match, Svitolina watched as the weary Czech, who played over three hours against Pliskova the day before, smoked a backhand down the line to set up break point and stayed alive as the Ukranian made a mess of a simple volley.
A hold to slice the lead to 5-4 piled the pressure back on Svitolina, who again served for a place in her first career semifinal. Muchova gave the crowd one final thrill as she stabbed at and made a backhand volley to get to 30-30. At match point, the Ukranian fired an unreturnable serve wide to finally get the monkey off of her back.