Seventh seed Elina Svitolina and 19th seed Anastasija Sevastova have both marched into the round of 16 at the US Open and the last eight is now within reach for both. Svitolina has never been beyond the fourth round at the US Open, falling at this stage last year. Sevastova, meanwhile, has reached the quarterfinals in New York for the past two years. But will it be Slam progress for Svitolina or a three-peat for Sevastova?
These two have met on just one occasion, back in 2013 when a fresh-faced Svitolina was just 18 years of age. Despite her lack of experience, however, she managed to take it to Sevastova at the Cali 125K series in Colombia on clay. Svitolina began the match well, and though Sevastova's resistance stiffened in the second set, the Ukrainian came through it a 6-3 7-6 winner. But much has changed for both women since.
Path to the fourth round
Svitolina dropped her only set of the tournament so far in her first-round match with Sachia Vickery of the USA, but despite that mid-match loss of focus she was a fairly comfortable 6-3 1-6 6-1 winner. That victory earned her the chance for revenge on Tatjana Maria, who upset her in the first round at Wimbledon, and she took it, winning 6-2 6-3 to reach the third round. There she dispatched China's Wang Qiang 6-4 6-4 to return to the second week.
Sevastova’s most difficult match also came in the first round, where the in-form Croatian Donna Vekic took her the distance, but Sevastova ultimately prevailed 6-2 2-6 6-3. Sevastova then dismissed Claire Liu, who finished last year as the world's top-ranked junior but offered little resistance to Sevastova in a 3-6 1-6 defeat. In the third round Sevastova came up against the giant- killing Ekaterina Makarova and beat the Russian 4-6 6-1 6-2.
How do they match up?
Both of these players possess strong all-round games and are capable of producing winners with both their forehands and backhands. But consistency and good movement are the cornerstones of both Svitolina and Sevastova's success. Although Svitolina was rather loose in the first round, making 35 errors, in the past two rounds she has played very tidily. Against Maria, she hit 24 winners and made just 19 errors, whilst against Wang she hit 14 winners and 12 unforced errors.
Keeping errors to a minimum will be vital against Sevastova, who will give up little herself. Against Makarova, Sevastova made just 23 errors, which was 20 less than her opponent. Against Liu, she made only 11 compared with the American's 32 and in the first round she made 15 less than Vekic. Sevastova has also had success when coming to the net, winning 75% of the points in the forecourt against Vekic and Makarova. But baseline consistency will be the key nonetheless.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this match go the distance. Both are solid players and come into the match in fairly good form and their similar strengths and weaknesses should make it a close contest. But Svitolina has arguably been the more impressive of the two so far and can call upon more power which should give her a slight edge heading into this fourth round. Expect a Svitolina win, but for her to have to go to a decider to get it.