HONG KONG, SAR - Top seed Elina Svitolina made a winning debut at the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, needing an hour and 40 minutes to tamp down a late comeback bid from Zarina Diyas and make her way into the second round.
With already five WTA titles under her belt this season, Svitolina took a wildcard into Hong Kong to play the tournament for the first time and get some last-minute preparations in for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SG Global after securing her spot a week ago.
Up against Japan Open champion Diyas, Svitolina found herself overcoming a slow start and fighting past the Kazakh’s late resurgence to win 6-4, 7-6(2).
“It was a tough draw for me to get Zarina in the first match, I know she’s been playing good tennis,” Svitolina said in her post-match press conference. “It was quite tough, I’m really happy to win in two sets and to serve so good today.”
Diyas got off to a strong start against the tentative Svitolina, breaking early and building up a 3-0 lead. But Svitolina quickly shook off the rust and found her best tennis, reeling off five games in a row to get back on track and close out the set.
Svitolina kept the momentum going in the second, edging ahead early and firing off her powerful serves to keep Diyas out of most of the set as the Ukrainian seemed ready to march ahead to a comfortable victory.
But the tenacious Diyas refused to wilt away, and - aided by an untimely Svitolina double fault - grabbed her first break of the set right as Svitolina was serving for the match. The pair kept up their tug of war until bringing up a tiebreaker, where the World No.4 finally surged ahead to close out the match.
After the match, Svitolina admitted to carrying a groin injury she picked up in Beijing, and played with strapping on her thigh.
“It was tough to recover from my last match because I got a little bit injured in Beijing and played a three and a half hour match,” she explained. “So today I didn’t play my best. All the time, when I go for the wide shots I always stretch it.
“Probably I’m going to have some scans and see how it is, because I have Singapore next. It’s going to be a tough decision, because I really want to play here.”
Up next for the top seed, Svitolina will take on Nicole Gibbs in the second round. The American came back from a set down yesterday to defeat Greek qualifier Valentini Grammatikopoulou 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.