PARIS -- Former World No.3 Elina Svitolina continued her remarkable run through Roland Garros, defeating No.9 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 7-5(5) to advance to the quarterfinals. The victory put the 28-year-old Ukrainian into her first Slam quarterfinal in just her fifth tour-level event since her return from maternity leave.
Svitolina will face No.2 Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals.
After giving birth to her daughter Skai last October, Svitolina returned to competition earlier this spring in Charleston. After starting her season 0-3 at the tour level, Svitolina caught fire in her fourth tournament back, storming to her 17th career title in Strasbourg. By making her fourth French Open quarterfinal and first since 2020, Svitolina extended her win streak to eight matches.
Svitolina's victory is the 35th Top 10 win of her career on the Hologic WTA Tour. It also extended her dominant head-to-head record over Kasatkina to 7-0. A semifinalist in Paris last year, Kasatkina was bidding to advance to her fourth major quarterfinal.
How the match was won: In their second meeting on clay, Svitolina raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set. But after a slow start that saw her strike 11 unforced errors in the first five games, Kasatkina settled down. She closed the gap to 4-3 before Svitolina came through a tight deuce game to hold and extend her lead to 5-3.
Serving to close out the opening set, Svitolina won a cagey 29-shot baseline rally to earn her first set point. She converted after Kasatkina put a backhand wide for her 17th unforced error of the set.
Kasatkina had worked hard to close the gap in their respective levels in the second set, but the crafty baseliner consistently struggled to deliver on big points. Serving at 3-3 and facing two break points, Kasatkina struck her third double fault of the day to hand Svitolina a 4-3 lead.
Turning point: Serving for the win at 5-4, Svitolina saved one break point with a brave forehand winner down the line, but Kasatkina returned the favor, saving one match point to break Svitolina and level the set at 5-5. After Svitolina broke serve again to earn a second chance to serve out the win, Kasatkina again broke back to force a tiebreak.
The tiebreak was a battle of nerves. Twice Svitolina earned an early minibreak, and twice Kasatkina pegged her back, winning a 23-shot baseline rally to tie it up at 4-4.
At 5-5, Kasatkina sent a backhand long -- her 45th unforced error of the match -- to give Svitolina her second match point and first of the tiebreak. This time, Svitolina converted to seal the win after 1 hour and 56 minutes.
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Svitolina swinging freely: "I don't have that pressure that I used to have before," Svitolina said. "Of course, me personally, I put pressure for myself because I want to win a Slam. This is the ultimate goal for me.
"But definitely not the pressure from outside. No one expects that I'm going to come into Roland Garros and make quarterfinal at the beginning of the tournament. That's why I feel like this really helps me. I feel almost like I'm 17 again coming on the tour fresh. I'm not defending any points. Not here, not next week. Definitely, I feel more free."