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Elina Svitolina vs Aryna Sabalenka French Open 2023 Preview and Prediction

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Elina Svitolina will hope to continue her dream run on Tuesday, taking on Aryna Sabalenka for a place in what would be her first semi final in Paris. Svitolina won the only meeting between the two on clay thanks to a match point double fault in her 6-2 4-6 6-4 victory in Strasbourg. Sabalenka is still in with a chance of being No.1 but must keep winning to keep the pressure on Iga Swiatek.

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Svitolina extended her winning streak to eight with a scrappy victory against Daria Kasatkina in round four, taking it 6-4 7-6. It wasn’t her best performance against a stubbornly defensive opponent but she will be delighted with the way she fought in the tiebreak, when a third set felt inevitable. A 52% first serve percentage will be one of her main concerns though with that ready to be punished by much better returners. “No one expects that I’m going to come into Roland Garros and make quarterfinal at the beginning of the tournament. That’s why I feel like this really helps me. I feel almost like I’m 17 again coming on the tour fresh. I’m not defending any points. Not here, not next week. Definitely, I feel more free.” she said when asked about the lack of pressure coming into the event.

After beating Sloane Stephens 7-6 6-4 in round four, Sabalenka is still yet to drop a set. She made hard work of the first in particular, getting dragged into a tiebreak despite holding a 5-0 lead in the set. She also gave away a break lead in the second and should have been made to serve to stay in the set, only for her opponent to fail to convert a 40-0 lead at 4-4. She is now 11-0 at slams and should she make it through this one, she would also be fairly confident with her chances in the semi finals. “It was a really tough battle, and that [Stephens] came back from 0-5, and it says a lot that she’s a great fighter and that she’s not going to give me that win easily,” Sabalenka said.

Sabalenka is rightly going to go into this match as the favourite but she is definitely there for the taking against an inspired Svitolina. The Australian Open champion showed signs of a wobble against Sloane Stephens and she will be facing an opponent that the crowd have adopted as their own, hoping for her to continue a fairytale story. Svitolina’s counterpunching game will have limitations but at her best pre-pregnancy, she was one of the best at that style. The Sabalenka of previous years will have faltered under the emotional pressure so it will be interesting to see if both nerves and serve hold up.

Prediction – Elina Svitolina in three sets

Aaron Higgs
Aaron Higgs
Experienced tennis writer with a focus on event previews and results.

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