Elina Svitolina and Emma Raducanu had never faced each other before. Their first meeting at the ASB Classic on Thursday was a memorable one. Both players displayed high-quality tennis during the 2 1/2-hour match, but Svitolina prevailed 6-7, 7-6, 6-1.
The first two sets were decided by intense tiebreakers. Raducanu took the first, but Svitolina took the second and never looked back winning the third set as Raducanu's shot-making started to falter. Svitolina played a fast-tempo match which could have attributed to her success as Raducanu was only in her second match after a long layoff for the recovery of three surgeries.
Fans of Raducanu should be encouraged. To begin with, she is now in the main draw at the Australian Open so she will not have to go through qualifying rounds. Also, with a little more match play, she will gain endurance. Svitolina was in a similar situation in her first matches back when she returned from maternity leave at last year's Charleston Open.
What Elina Svitolina said about Emma Raducanu after the match
Svitolina commented on the high quality and intensity both she and Raducanu brought to the match. She added: “It was a great match from both of us. Emma played a great match and it was really difficult, physically."
Svitolina's path to the quarterfinals has not been an easy one. She defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the first round before facing Raducanu.
Returning last April from maternity leave, Svitolina has had more time to manage the demands of motherhood and tennis so she could have the most success among the new moms, Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka, at this year's Australian Open. Kerber and Osaka returned to professional tennis this month.
Svitolina was an Australian Open quarterfinalist in 2018 and 2019. She is not to be overlooked when the Australian Open draw comes out. Could she be the first woman since Kim Clijsters to win a Grand Slam title as a mother? If she stays healthy, it is possible.