US Open: Svitolina, Konta, Serena into quarters, Barty out

Published by Matt Trollope

Elina Svitolina in action during her fourth-round defeat of Madison Keys at the US Open (Getty Images)
Elina Svitolina reaches her first US Open quarterfinal where she will face Johanna Konta, who upset Karolina Pliskova. Serena Williams also advanced, but again misses a meeting with Ash Barty.

Elina Svitolina continued her impressive form at the US Open, and completed the quarterfinal line-up in the bottom half of the women’s draw, with a straight-sets win over Madison Keys.

The fifth seed was too solid for the erratic Keys, winning 7-5 6-4 to advance to her first quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows.

There she will play Johanna Konta, who upset No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova to also notch her first appearance in the last eight in New York.

Serena Williams survived a rolled ankle and Croatia’s Petra Martic to return to the quarterfinals for the second straight year and will meet Wang Qiang, who defeated an out-of-sorts Ash Barty in straight sets earlier on Sunday.

Svitolina is yet to drop a set in four matches at this year’s US Open, and at the same time erased any painful memories of her last meeting with Keys in New York, which occurred at the same stage of the 2017 tournament. There, Svitolina led 4-2 in the third set before Keys snatched victory.

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But there was to be no repeat of that result this time around.

Svitolina, who kept her unforced error tally to just 13, proved an insurmountable hurdle for Keys, who dumped four successive backhands into the net in the final game to end the 75-minute contest with 40 unforced errors.

Konta, meanwhile, trailed 2016 finalist Pliskova 7-6 3-1 before winning five games in a row. Shrugging off her own disappointment at letting slip a 5-3 first-set lead, Konta eventually completed a 6-7(1) 6-3 7-5 victory.

“It’s part of the game to sometimes not be able to serve a set out. It’s part of the game to go down a break and come back,” Konta said of the momentum swings.

“Equally for her, she could have taken a lot of confidence from being able to come back from 5-3 down, going a break up in that second set.

“I didn’t really get discouraged by it. I was playing against the No.3 player in the world. Nothing is going to be given to me or be easy.

“I just have to keep working. I felt I did that in that second set, as well, even going a break down.”

The result continues an impressive year at the Slams for the Brit, who advanced to the semifinals at Roland Garros and quarters at Wimbledon.

After dipping as low as No.47 in early May, Konta has returned to 16th, and is projected to return to the top 10 after her fortnight in Flushing Meadows.

She is yet to beat Svitolina in four previous meetings.

Williams, gunning for a record-equalling 24th major singles title, progressed to the quarterfinals following a 6-3 6-4 win over Martic.

Yet the victory was dampened by the fact she went over on her ankle in the fifth game of the second set and required a medical timeout to strap the injury.

“I usually know if it’s horrible early on. I mean, I had a really bad ankle sprain in January. I was like, instantly, ‘No, this can’t happen. I’m finally healthy,’” Williams said.

“But I’ll see tomorrow. So far I’m good. I have been managing it. We’ll see tomorrow.”

In the quarterfinals she will face in Wang an opponent who she has never met before, after the Chinese 18th seed stunned world No.2 Ash Barty 6-2 6-4 in the first match of the day at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Barty was on the brink of trailing 6-2 4-1 but staged a mini-comeback and had four chances in the eighth game to level the second set at 4-4.

Yet she failed to take any of them, ending the match with a 0-from-9 conversion rate on break points as well as committing 39 unforced errors.

“Q was very good, very solid. I felt like she was able to put the ball with great depth in difficult positions for me,” said Barty, the Roland Garros champion.

“I still was able to create opportunities. Just very frustrating that on the big points today, Q played a lot better.

“It’s frustrating now. Again, give me an hour and I’ll be right. It’s an opportunity, it’s a new day tomorrow.”

For the third Grand Slam tournament in a row, Barty — the game’s most recent new world No.1 and in a strong position to return to top spot after the tournament — and Williams came within a match of playing one another, only for one of the players to lose.

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