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Wimbledon: Elina Svitolina knocks out Elise Mertens

Former Wimbledon semifinalist Elina Svitolina continued her excellent run in Grand Slams following her maternity break as the Ukrainian wildcard downed 28th seed Elise Mertens 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 on Thursday to move into the third round.

Svitolina, who returned to the tour in April following the birth of her daughter in October 2022, reached the French Open quarterfinals last month and proved too good for five-time champion Venus Williams in her Wimbledon opener.

“I enjoy so much being on the court, getting this chance to play in front of an amazing crowd in such an amazing event,” Svitolina said.

“I’ll try to accept what’s coming my way though sometimes there can be tough days. I know my family is there supporting me and enjoying every single moment I get to play in such an amazing event.”

The 28-year-old raced through the first set against Belgian Mertens on the back of two breaks of serve, showing glimpses of the form that took her to the last four in 2019, but she faced an uphill task in the next set after going 0-5 down.

Mertens leveled the match on serve, finishing with a powerful overhead smash, but the former world number three Svitolina pounced in the decider to break in the second game thanks to a blistering backhand down the line.

“On grass, it (momentum shifts) can happen and you have to just accept it and move on,” Svitolina said.

“I was playing really good in the first set and Elise came back really strong, serving well. I just lost my momentum but in the third set I tried to move my legs quicker a little bit and here I am.”

With the momentum having swung her way again, Svitolina held her nerve to close out the victory and set up a clash with American Sofia Kenin after the former major champion eased past China’s Wang Xinyu 6-4, 6-3.

“I’m really thankful for this opportunity in the first place with the wildcard and now I’m in the third round,” Svitolina added. “It feels amazing.”

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