Brisbane International champion Elina Svitolina faced down her first big test at the Australian Open, recovering from a set down to defeat Katerina Siniakova on Rod Laver Arena.
David Kane
January 17, 2018

MELBOURNE, Australia - No.4 seed Elina Svitolina continued her unbeaten start 2018, but not without a fight as she rallied to dispatch Czech youngster Katerina Siniakova, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to reach the third round at the Australian Open.

"The second and third set was 6-2, 6-1, but I felt like it was 7-6 in the third or 8-6 in the third," she said after the match. "It was very tough for me today.

"I'm not feeling great and was not focused on the right things. That's why it made it tougher for myself."

Svitolina kicked off the season with a victorious run at the Brisbane International, dropping just one set en route to her 10th career title. Still, Siniakova is a formidable opponent in singles and doubles, shocking former WTA World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in the Ericsson Open final last summer.

Combine that with the Ukrainian's admission that she wasn't feeling 100% and it was an all-out battle to open play on Rod Laver Arena.

"I had some issues before the start of the tournament; it was like big question that I'm going to step on court for my first round."

Securing the only break of the first set, the 21-year-old seemed to have Svitolina on the ropes heading into the second before losing five of the next six games and taking an medical timeout.

"I'm relieved that I won today. I played good tennis in the first match, so you never know. Maybe tomorrow I'm gonna feel better and I'll feel better for my third round. Of course I'm looking forward for that match, and it's not every day to be in the third round. You don't always have these opportunities.

"Hopefully my team is going to do everything to make me ready. I have time to prepare, so I don't want to put this in my head and just take one hour at a time."

The No.4 seed broke to level the match shortly thereafter and never looked back, clinching victory after two hours and 14 minutes on court.

"I'm relieved that I won today. In the end, it doesn't give me the opportunity to play well. I played good tennis in the first match, so you never know.

"Maybe tomorrow I'm gonna feel better or I'll feel better for my third round. Of course I'm looking forward for that match, and it's not every day to be in the third round, you don't always have these opportunities.

"Hopefully my team is going to do everything to make me ready. I have time to prepare, so I don't want to put this in my head and just take one hour at a time."

Svitolina continued to impress on serve, striking nine aces and winning 68% of points behind her first serve, and while Siniakova managed nine more winners (31 to 22), she was ultimately undone by 48 unforced errors to the 23-year-old's 26.

Standing between Svitolina and a spot in the second week is a teenaged compatriot in Marta Kostyuk; the 15-year-old reigning junior Australian Open champion eased into the third round on her Grand Slam debut with a win over local wildcard Olivia Rogowska earlier in the day.

"I watched a little bit of her first round. She has nothing to lose, so that's why she goes for everything. You know, a like a little bit like headless chicken!

"I will try to prepare and be ready for her game. For me it's very important for me to be there with my game and don't really think who is in the other, who's in the other side."