MELBOURNE, Australia - No.4 seed Elina Svitolina extended her season-opening winning streak to nine straight matches with an emphatic 6-3, 6-0 victory over qualifier Denisa Allertova to become the first woman from Ukraine to ever reach the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.
Svitolina had two quarterfinals at the French Open on her resumé prior to the first Grand Slam of 2018, but had never reached that stage at any of the other three majors, nor had she reached week two in five career appearances.
Nonetheless, the World No.4's foray into uncharted territory at the Australian Open has been a smashing success so far, as she's dropped just seven games in her past two matches to become the first woman from her country to reach the last eight.
Despite coming out of qualifying as a surprise package in the fourth round, Allertova proved to be one of the in-form players in the fortnight, winning all six of her matches in straight sets to have her best-ever showing at a Grand Slam.
The former World No.55 has seen her ranking dip down to No.130 after injury struggles in the past year, but had reason to be optimistic coming into the match against Svitolina - the 24-year-old defeated her in the lone previous meeting between the two players at the Qatar Open in 2016.
However, Svitolina served notice in just 57 minutes, as she broke serve a total of six times in the match and won 11 of the last 12 games.
The Ukrainian struck 17 winners in 15 games, and handled the Czech's big serve with aplomb; though Allertova served at 69% for the match, Svitolina won 56% of the points on the qualifier's first delivery (23 of 41 points) and 13 of the 18 points behind the Czech's second serve.
Awaiting the Brisbane International champion in the quarterfinals is another player who won a title to begin the season: Hobart champion Elise Mertens. The Belgian also reached her first Grand Slam quartterfinal on Sunday with a 7-6(5), 7-5 win over Petra Martic.
More to come...