Top seed Elina Svitolina continues her quest for a first title in nearly two years when she faces rising teenager Leylah Fernandez in the Monterrey quarter-finals on Friday.
?? Elina Svitolina  vs ?? Leylah Fernandez [SE] Match Info
Date: Friday March 6
Tournament: WTA Monterrey QF
Court: Estadio GNP Seguros
Time: 7.00pm local time (1.00am GMT)
Elina Svitolina vs Leylah Fernandez Head-to-Head
Elina Svitolina vs Leylah Fernandez Match Preview
Three wins away from her first piece of silverware since Rome in 2018, Svitolina must defeat the fast-rising Fernandez in order to secure her spot in the Monterrey semi-finals on Friday night.
Svitolina has been struggling for her best season to start the season, arriving in Monterrey on the back of a three-match losing streak, but the Ukrainian has managed to register two straight set victories this week to advance into her second quarter-final of 2020.
Svitolina was untroubled in an opening round 6-2 6-2 triumph over Danka Kovinic, but was made to work harder in the second round against the in-form Olga Govortsova, who brought an eight-match winning streak into their encounter. Svitolina was forced to come back from an early break down in the first set and needed two chances to serve it out in the second, but the top seed steadied to close out the win, 6-3 6-4.
Yet to be really tested by top-tier opposition yet in Monterrey, I’m curious to see how Svitolina performs as the tournament progress.
The World No. 7 has suffered a number of crushing defeats already in 2020, including 6-1 6-1 to Danielle Collins in Brisbane, 6-1 6-2 to Garbine Muguruza in the Australian Open, 6-4 6-2 to Nao Hibino in Hua Hin, 6-2 6-1 to Jennifer Brady in Dubai and 6-3 6-3 to Amanda Anisimova in Doha last week.
Svitolina’s loss of form to kick-start the season is more surprising when you consider her strong finish to 2019, which included reaching the U.S. Open semi-finals (after previously making the final four at Wimbledon) and returning to the WTA Finals title match in Shenzhen, where she beat the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Sofia Kenin, Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic before falling to World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.
It’s hard to gauge what Svitolina’s form is like in Monterrey, but we should get a better idea when she takes to court against one of the sport’s brightest young prospects on Friday night.
Fernandez has been on a brilliant hot streak in Mexico over the last fortnight, backing up her run as a qualifier to her first WTA final in Acapulco last week by reaching the quarter-finals in Monterrey. The 17-year-old won six matches in straight sets before going down to Heather Watson in the Acapulco final (but not before saving a whopping 10 championship points), and has impressively reset in Monterrey to advance into the last eight, beating Stefanie Voegele 7-6(5) 6-2 before earning a superb 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 victory over former top 10 star and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens on Thursday. Fernandez responded sensationally after missing a set point in the opener, taking control of the next two sets for her second top 50 scalp in the last month.
“It was a great match. I was a little nervous in the beginning. She’s a great player and she’s won a Grand Slam. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Fernandez said after the match.
“I tried to use everything that I’ve trained, as in forgetting about the past and focusing on the present, and that’s helped me a lot. I’ve done a lot of mental training since I was very young and it’s paying off now.”
A runner-up at the junior Australian Open before winning the French Open junior title, Fernandez built up her senior ranking on the ITF circuit last season, winning the $25k title in Gatineaux and finishing runner-up in Waco, improving her ranking by over 200 spots. However, the 17-year-old has already taken her game to the next level in 2020 and will almost certainly leave the ITF circuit behind in the coming months, qualifying for the Australian Open before knocking off top 10 star Belinda Bencic in Fed Cup action for Canada against Switzerland last month.
Elina Svitolina vs Leylah Fernandez Prediction
As I said, I’m curious as to how Svitolina performs in her first real test in Monterrey, especially against a genuine rising star who is confident, won a lot of matches and has nothing to lose. Fernandez, despite her tender age, loves engaging in gruelling baseline exchanges, as she’s demonstrated in matches against Watson and Stephens over the last week. She can expect a similar pattern of play to develop against Svitolina, and if the top seed isn’t close to her best, I think Fernandez is capable of pulling off another big upset.