BIRMINGHAM, England - Qualifier Camila Giorgi won six of the last seven games to defeat No.2 seed Elina Svitolina, the highest-ranked player remaining in the draw, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals at the Aegon Classic on Thursday.
While the Italian has seen her ranking slip outside the world's top 100 this season for the first time in three years, her pedigree always precedes her. Always dangerous, particularly on grass, the 25-year-old recorded her eighth career top 10 victory with the secound round win.
"Today was a great match, I played really well. It was a very good level," Giorgi said on-court after the match. "It's really important to play as many matches as possible, so [playing qualifying] helped me."
The Italian blasted a total of 34 winners in the two hour, two-minute encounter, doubling Svitolina's output of 16. Giorgi's commitment to aggression paid off, as her margin of winners to unforced errors (47) was better balanced than Svitolina, who committed 34 unforced errors.
After three straight breaks to open the first set, the No.2 seed held the lead until Giorgi hit back for her second break of the set to tie the opener at 3-3.
The qualifier held on to her serve for the duration of the opening set, and after she was forced to save a pair of break points that would've allowed Svitolina to serve for a one-set lead, the World No.102 produced some brilliant shot-making to break the Ukrainian's serve for a third time and seal a set advantage.
"I was not surprised [she played this well]," Svitolina said. "I was expecting this because she always played great on grass...it's quite normal."
Svitolina started strongly in the second set, as the World No.5 sprinted out to a 5-1 lead. The clean, crisp hitting that characterized Giorgi's tennis in the opening set began to desert her, as Svitolina played measured, high-percentage tennis and forced the Italian to all corners of the court.
The Ukrainian was at her most effective in defending break points in the second set; she saved six of seven total opportunities that Giorgi created in the middle set, as the Italian went a perfect 6/6 in break point opportunities combined in sets two and three.
"It's tennis, so you can...make a mistake, miss an easy point -- it's about one point [at a time]," Giorgi said. "I hope to keep playing my game, and I focus on me always."
Giorgi rallied late in the second set as she looked to put the match away in two, as she closed the gap to 5-4 and pulled to deuce on the Svitolina serve. However, the World No.5 landed two of her best serves of the day when it mattered most, handcuffing Giorgi on return to force a deciding set.
Added Svitolina: "I was surprised that I managed to come back into the game and win second set and actually played some good points, even though I was not there 100 percent."
Svitolina began the deicder with a break of serve, but Giorgi pounced immediately in response, securing a love break in the Ukrainian's first service game of the set.
That kicked off a run of four straight games for the qualifier, who put herself on the cusp of victory with an emphatic love hold to lead 4-1. Though she landed just 45 percent of first serves in the deciding set, Giorgi lost just two points in three service games that followed her first, and capped the victory in style with her seventh break of serve.
"I played against her in Wuhan a couple of years ago, and I knew what to expect," Svitolina said. "Against her, you need to move very quickly and around the ball to manage to give yourself space, and today it was not there. Even on the tight moments that I needed to be, it was not there. It was very disappointing that the game was just not there and I couldn't do anything."