BRISBANE, Australia - No.3 seed Elina Svitolina struck again at the Brisbane International, knocking out Croatia's Ana Konjuh, 6-3, 6-1, to soar into the quarterfinals of her first event in 2018.
Svitolina rang in the new year with a decisive win over Carla Suárez Navarro, and kept up that form on Wednesday against Konjuh, a former US Open quarterfinalist, to secure victory in 64 minutes.
"It was a good match, and I was expecting a tough one against Ana today," she said after the match. "I'm happy with how I handled some of the tough shots she hit today."
Even against the aggressive Croat, Svitolina managed more winners (17 to 16) and fewer unforced errors (18 to 33); combine that with some clutch serving - saving four of five break points faced - and the two-time Brisbane semifinalist was always in control of the match.
"I always love coming here. I love the crowd, and playing on this court. It's always very special for me because I've had some tough matches here before. Every time I step on this court, I'm always pumped and ready to play."
After a breakthrough season in 2017, the young Ukrainian aims to take the next step at the major tournaments, with the upcoming Australian Open an early test of the work she put in over the five weeks of off-season training spent in London and Paris with coach Thierry Ascione.
"Hopefully I'm improved! I'm trying to work hard and stay focused on each match, to show my best tennis and challenge myself to go even higher and better."
Standing between Svitolina and the semifinals is British No.1 Johanna Konta, who played her first match of the season against US Open runner-up Madison Keys, narrowly edging through in three sets.
The duo last played at the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in 2016, where the Roland Garros quarterfinalist gained the upper hand after a slow start.
"I remember it was tough match," she said in her post-match press conference. "I was down and then I came back and I won that match. It was good match and she's playing well. And I think we are both playing different now and we are much better players.
"I expect another tough match, but I'll try to focus on my game, and on things I've been working on in the off-season, and this is my main goal for next match."