WTA Brisbane quarterfinal preview: Johanna Konta vs Elina Svitolina

An interesting battle in the opening week of the WTA season sees the Brit and the Ukrainian face off for a place in the last four in Brisbane.

WTA Brisbane quarterfinal preview: Johanna Konta vs Elina Svitolina
Konta and Svitolina are set to play each other for the third time (Both images courtesy of Getty/Bradley Kanaris)

The action is beginning to heat up at the Brisbane International, with the quarterfinal matches taking place in both the WTA and ATP singles draws, with perhaps the biggest encounter of the day seeing seeing fifth seed Johanna Konta take on third seed Elina Svitolina for a place in the last four.

Both women have emerged as two of the best talents of the WTA Tour over the past couple of seasons, with both women reaching a career-best ranking during the 2017 season, though this will be the first time the two have played since late 2016; Svitolina has won both their past meetings, prevailing in three sets at the WTA Elite Trophy the last time they played.

This will be the second match of the day on the tournament’s biggest court, the Pat Rafter Arena, taking place at around 13:00 Brisbane time. The winner will face either qualifier Kaia Kanepi or second seed and defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the semifinals.

So far in Brisbane

Both Konta and Svitolina have at times pulled out impressive tennis in Brisbane, though it is the latter who has been the more comfortable of the two so far.

Svitolina headed into 2018 after the most successful season of her career, with her five WTA titles during the season the most on the WTA Tour, and the Ukrainian started this year in confident style, easing past former top-ten player Carla Suarez Navarro for the loss of just six games. She then impressed again in her second round match, dropping just four games as she cruised past Ana Konjuh to make the last eight.

Svitolina celebrates her second round win over Ana Konjuh (Getty/Chris Hyde)
Svitolina celebrates her second round win over Ana Konjuh (Getty/Chris Hyde)

Konta, meanwhile, had a disappointing run towards the end of last season, winning just one match after reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon, though started her Brisbane campaign in solid style as she battled past Madison Keys in a high-quality three-set encounter. The Brit was then drawn into another difficult encounter, though came through a poor first set to beat home favorite Ajla Tomljanovic and reach her opening quarterfinal of 2018.

Analysis

So far in Brisbane, Konta has played some solid tennis, especially in her opening match against US Open runner-up Keys, and she will undoubtedly look to attack as much as possible against Svitolina, especially considering the fact that the Ukrainian does not have the huge weapons to match the Brit’s past two opponents. However, Konta was not always at her best in her second round match, and absolutely cannot afford any lapses against Svitolina, who has been growing in confidence greatly over the past 12 to 18 months; the Brit must serve well, and try to not allow her opponent to be aggressive.

Konta will be looking to attack as much as possible to impose herself on the match (Getty/Bradley Kanaris)
Konta will be looking to attack as much as possible to impose herself on the match (Getty/Bradley Kanaris)

Svitolina has been incredibly solid in Brisbane so far, and a performance similar to her past two matches will undoubtedly serve her well in this quarterfinal clash, though Konta will likely prove slightly more difficult to put away. Svitolina will not be continuously able to take control of the encounter, considering the two’s styles of play are not too dissimilar, though the Ukrainian should still look to be aggressive, and should look to take advantage of any momentary lapses that Konta could offer her throughout the encounter.

Assessment

This is undoubtedly an intriguing encounter, with it being the first time this season that two big names on the WTA Tour will face off, in any tournament. Konta has played well at times so far and can undoubtedly trouble Svitolina, though the Ukrainian has been playing very well so far and should be able to prevail in this encounter.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina in three sets