TORONTO, Canada -- In a battle of former Rogers Cup champions, No.6 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine eased past 11th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, 6-2, 6-4, to move into the quarterfinals in Toronto.
Bencic and Svitolina are the two most recent women to triumph when the event has been held in Toronto, in 2015 and 2017 respectively. On this day, though, Svitolina was the victor, shaking off an early ankle turn, a 90-minute rain delay, and four missed match points before steering past Bencic after one hour and 34 minutes of play.
"Today was a lot going on," Svitolina said, during her post-match press conference. "We had to stop. I didn't know if it would benefit my ankle or not because, you know, sometimes it can swell. But in the end, I was happy that it didn't, and I was feeling actually better. I had to adjust, and tennis is about adjusting, and I did it today."
Svitolina used stupendous defense and excellent depth of shot to claim the victory, winning 61 percent of points off of Bencic's second serve throughout the encounter, and breaking the Swiss player six times out of 13 break points. Bencic had 30 unforced errors, including seven double faults, well outpacing Svitolina's 19 miscues.
Svitolina will now face Sofia Kenin of the United States in the elite eight, after the American dispatched Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska, 6-2, 6-2 earlier on Thursday. Svitolina won their only prior meeting, a tough three-set tilt earlier this year at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
"I played against [Kenin] in Indian Wells and didn't know much about her game," Svitolina stated. "Now we've seen a lot of matches of hers because she's been winning a lot and playing some great tennis. So it's going to be another tough battle, and I will try to be physically ready and mentally just be there and try to earn my chances, and just play my game."
Svitolina started the match off by breaking Bencic in the opening game, but the Ukrainian twisted her ankle and fell during the next game. Nevertheless, Svitolina immediately got her ankle taped by the trainer and persisted, consolidating her break to reach 2-0.
"Definitely tomorrow [the ankle] is going to be a bit sore, I think, but I have to take it," said Svitolina. "I have no other choice. The WTA physios are doing their best, and I'm very thankful, because they're very, very, very good."
"It's fine for now," Svitolina continued. "We'll see how it goes. But tomorrow is another day, it's a new day. So I'll try to do everything what is in my power to recover and be ready."
The No.6 seed appeared to be totally unfazed by any potential injury on Thursday, as Svitolina crushed a big return on break point to attain a 4-1, double-break lead on Bencic. The Swiss player blasted a forehand winner of her own to grasp one break back in the following game, but she quickly found herself down double break point again in the next game, before rain started to pour down mid-point.
The precipitation necessitated a 90-minute delay, but when the players returned, Svitolina picked up exactly where she left off, winning the first point to reclaim the double-break lead. At 5-2, the Ukrainian squandered her first set point and had to fend off two break points, but eventually maneuvered to a service hold and a one-set lead.
In the second set, Svitolina again took a huge early lead, breaking Bencic after a lengthy game for a 2-1 lead, then earning another double-break advantage to reach 4-1 following a patch of errors from the Swiss player.
The players exchanged breaks in the next two games, giving Svitolina a chance to serve for the match at 5-2. The Ukrainian fired superb serves to reach triple match point, but Bencic, on the brink of elimination, fired risky, aggressive returns to pull herself back into the game, and won five straight points to break for 5-3.
After a Bencic hold, Svitolina had a second chance to serve out the match at 5-4. The Ukrainian’s fourth match point was erased after Bencic began that point with a hard return and ended it with a volley winner. However, a long service return by Bencic gave Svitolina a fifth match point, and the sixth seed finally clinched the win after a wide backhand by Bencic.
"I think [Bencic] played unbelievable in the end," Svitolina admitted. "She just went for it and everything was going in. It was a tricky one, but I'm happy that I could stay positive in the end and get the win."