BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain -- No.2 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine moved into her first quarterfinal at the Nature Valley Classic on Wednesday, with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2 victory over Alizé Cornet of France.
"First time in quarterfinals here in Birmingham, I couldn’t wish for a better start," Svitolina exclaimed during her on-court post-match interview.
The Ukrainian World No.5 extended her head-to-head performance against Cornet to 4-2 after the one-hour and 22-minute encounter. Cornet had taken their first two meetings in 2013, but since then, Svitolina has claimed eight consecutive sets against the Frenchwoman.
"I was expecting a good match," said Svitolina, during the on-court interview. "[Cornet] plays well against the top players, she beat a couple of them in the past, and she really steps up her game. I knew how I had to play, and I’m very happy with the performance today."
Svitolina had 16 winners to 15 unforced errors in the match, and won 55 percent of points when returning the Cornet second serve. Cornet had 17 unforced errors, more than her 14 winners, and failed to convert any of her five break points in the encounter.
In the quarterfinals, Svitolina will take on Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu, who outlasted Petra Martic of Croatia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in Wednesday's late match.
The opening set was tidy, with both players having one more winner than their unforced error count during that stretch. In the first four games of the match, Svitolina and Cornet held serve with no issues.
But at 2-2, Cornet became embroiled in a difficult service game. Consecutive backhand unforced errors from the Frenchwoman gave Svitolina triple break point, but the Ukrainian started misfiring off that side as well, and the game returned to deuce. Svitolina, however, converted a fourth break point of the game with a winning forehand to take a 3-2 lead.
That break was all Svitolina needed to calmly move to the one-set lead, holding with ease in her next two service games, then taking the opening frame 6-4 after Cornet slammed a service return long on Svitolina’s first set point.
In the second set, Svitolina struggled in her first service game, as the fiery Cornet tried to will herself back into the match with her heavy topspin and unpredictable forays to the net. Svitolina had to fend off three break points before holding for 1-1, eventually claiming that game with a powerful serve that was returned wide.
After that impressive feat, Svitolina romped to a huge lead, taking Cornet’s next two service games. Cornet managed to stave off three break points at 3-1, but Svitolina converted her fourth opportunity in that game by forcing an error from the Frenchwoman with a strong backhand, and the Ukrainian led 4-1.
Good serving by Cornet erased two match points on her serve at 5-1, but the solid hold for 5-2 only prolonged the inevitable. In the next game, a long backhand error by Cornet gave Svitolina a third match point -- her first on her own serve. Svitolina claimed this one, with a forehand that sent Cornet tumbling to the ground and Svitolina into the next round.
"When I come into the tournament, it's always the goal for me to win the tournament," Svitolina elaborated, during her post-match press conference. "I take it one day at a time, but in my mind I always have the highest goals for every tournament I enter."
"That's the goal for everyone, to play well, to be consistent because the season is very, very long," Svitolina also said. "So that's why I know, to be on top of the women's ranking, you have to play really good seasons and every tournament. Doesn't matter what surface."