(Wimbledon) Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, 76th in the world, beat world No.1 Iga Swiatek 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 on Tuesday and will return to the semi-finals of Wimbledon four years after there having arrived and nine months after giving birth.
“I don’t know what’s going on…it’s amazing. I am happy to have had the chance to come back and play such a match with such support,” said the 24-year-old Ukrainian.
“I’m very proud of the effort I put in today,” she added.
“If someone had told me before the start of the tournament that I would be in the semi-finals after beating the world No.1, I would have called them crazy,” she said.
Not only did she beat the No.1, but to reach the last four, she dismissed four Grand Slam winners: Venus Williams (1st round), Sofia Kenin (3rd round), Victoria Azarenka (round of 16) and Swiatek (quarters).
For her part, she has never played in a major final, but had already reached the semi-finals twice, at Wimbledon then at the United States Open in 2019. She will face Thursday for a first place in the final the Czech Marketa Vondrousova (42nd ).
Svitolina is the third player in the Open era (since 1968) to have been invited to the semi-finals at Wimbledon after Zheng Jie (2008) and Sabine Lisicki (2011).
The former world No.3, also very emotionally affected by the war in Ukraine, resumed competition in April after giving birth last October to a daughter, Skaï, born of her union with the French player Gaël Monfils.
In May, she won the Strasbourg tournament.
Against Swiatek on Tuesday, the match could have turned in favor of the Pole several times, but she generally committed too many unforced errors (41 for 37 winning points against 25 and 25 for Svitolina).
With the Pole serving for the set at 5-4 in the first set, Svitolina won 20 of 22 runs to pocket that first set and lead 1-0 in the second.
Swiatek stopped the bleeding, leveling at 1-1, but found herself trailing 40-0 on the Ukrainian’s serve.
She then missed a forehand penalty which would have given her the game – Swiatek had completely given up the point before Svitolina struck this last shot –. But the Ukrainian missed and in the process, Swiatek took her service game to lead 2-1 then 3-1.
The Ukrainian did not lose her means and managed to take the round to the decisive game.
Again, Swiatek reversed a badly embarked situation (it was down 4/1) to equalize at one set everywhere.
And there again, the Ukrainian showed great mental strength not to let the match fall apart.
In the deciding set, after losing the first game, she won the next four to lead 4-1 with a double break. She confirmed on two aces to lead 5-1 and concluded on her next face-off.
How will she prepare for her semi-final?
“I’ll start with a beer!” “, she launched.
The Czech Marketa Vondrousova (42nd in the world) achieved the feat of beating the number 4 seed, the American Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon tournament on Wednesday, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 for qualify for the semi-finals.
In the last four, Vondrousova, who was a finalist at Roland-Garros in 2019, will face either Polish world number 1 Iga Swiatek or Ukrainian Elina Svitolina (76th).
The disillusionment is cruel for Pegula who loses his sixth Grand Slam quarter-final out of six.
After a very eventful first set, with five breaks, but which had turned to the advantage of the Czech (6-4), the American seemed to have taken control of the match.
She had flown over the second set by taking the opposing face-off twice and without even offering a break point on hers (6-2). Then she had made the hole at 3-1 in the decisive set when the match had to be stopped to close the roof and very briefly put the tarpaulin on because of the rain.
When the players returned, Pegula confirmed her break at 4-1 and even got a double break point on the opposing serve.
Back to the wall, the Czech was overexcited and fierce exchanges followed one another, but most often turning to her advantage.
Not only did Pegula lose that game, but Vondrousova fielded 5 straight games to snatch her first half on the London turf.