INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - No.6 seed Elina Svitolina overcame another tough challenge at the BNP Paribas Open, edging past Daria Gavrilova, 7-5, 6-4 to reach the fourth round at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Svitolina rallied from a set down to defeat rising American star Sofia Kenin in the opening round, and managed another topsy turvy battle to score a fifth straight win over her her Aussie rival and former doubles partner after one hour and 46 minutes on Stadium 2.
"I was expecting a tough one," Svitolina said after the match. "I've known Daria for a long time - I think we played for the first time when we were 10 years old! - so we know each others' games pretty well.
"It's always tough against her, so I was trying to stay focused on what I had to do. In the end, I was happy with how I finished the match."
The opening set featured nine breaks of serve as Svitolina couldn't quite shake the tenacious Gavrilova, who turned a 2-4 deficit into a 5-4 lead and a set point to boot.
Winner at last fall's BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the former World No.3 hit back in emphatic form, saving the set point and winning three straight games to roar through the opening set.
Undaunted, Gavrilova broke to open the second set and later clawed her way back as Svitolina served for the match, saving two match points on her own serve in the tenth game.
On her third opportunity, Svitolina secured victory with an enthusiastic celebration, and will play either American Jennifer Brady or No.12 seed and fellow Australian Open quarterfinalist Ashleigh Barty for a spot in the quarterfinals.
"I've played against Barty a couple of times. I know her game a little bit so I have to be ready, and I'll try to recover for a tough one. Brady is playing really good tennis now, beating some top players. She can produce a very good match, so I'll have to be ready for that as well."
In all, Svitolina struck 20 winners to 17 unforced errors and converted eight of 17 break point chances; while Gavrilova struck 27 winners of her own, she was ultimately undone by 33 unforced errors, and could only engineer nine break points, converting six.