‘Mean’ Svitolina charges into Hong Kong quarterfinals

Top seed Elina Svitolina wasted no time to power into the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open quarterfinals, needing less than an hour to dismiss Nao Hibino 6-0, 6-3.
Svitolina fired seven aces and created 11 break chances across two sets with her aggressive play. After starting out on a tear - she reeled off eight games in a row - her opponent Hibino looked keen to mount a comeback, but Svitolina slammed the door shut to book her spot into the last eight.
“I wouldn’t say I was relieved, that’s probably not the right word for it, but I’m happy that I finished the way I did,” Svitolina said in her post-match press conference. “I finished the match very solid, and that’s going to definitely give me confidence for the next match.
“I was dominating from the beginning. I was really angry today.”
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Svitolina explained the reasons behind that anger, saying she feels ‘extra motivation’ by being so close to a WTA Finals qualification spot.
“We’re in the Race for Singapore, and I want really bad to be there,” she said. “I have to step up and bring my best game. I’m trying everything.”
Svitolina is one of five players who can still qualify for the last three spots at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and a deep run in Hong Kong can seal it for the Ukrainian. Svitolina will qualify this week if she wins the title, so long as the following results also go her way: Pliskova doesn’t reach the final in Tianjin and Bertens does not reach the semifinal in Linz.
“Singapore gives me a bit of extra motivation, of course, but I don’t try to think about it. I don’t want to have this pressure in my head. I know there is pressure, but I know there is four other players who are in the same situation as me.
“I just try to go on court and play the way I want to play, and then what happens, happens.”
Up next Svitolina gets China’s No.1 Wang Qiang, a player she defeated at the US Open third round. But between then and now, Wang has embarked on a historic run on Chinese soil: she cut down her ranking to a career-high No.24, lifted the Guangzhou trophy and become the first woman from her country to reach the Wuhan semifinals, backing it up with a semifinal run in Beijing the next week.
“I remember that US Open match - I was playing well, I was striking the ball really good,” Svitolina said. “I’ve played against her a couple of times so I know what to expect. I’m just going to try to bring my best game tomorrow and try to play mean, like I played to today. I think that’s the way forward.”
Joining Svitolina and No.6 seed Wang in the quarterfinals are No.7 seed Daria Gavrilova - who edged past Monica Niculescu in a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3) marathon, and Zhang Shuai, who needed three sets to see off Lesley Kerkhove 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-1.