Betting favorite and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina was sent out of the Australian Open on Tuesday by unheralded and unseeded Elise Mertens, who cruised to a 6-4, 6-0 win behind some brilliant all-court tennis.
“I have so many mixed emotions,” the Belgian said afterwards. “I gave it all today, I fought. I got a little stress at the end so I played my game and it went well today…I tried to play aggressive, make her move, come to the net a bit more — just tried to play aggressive on the court.”
Mertens, who trains at Kim Clijsters’ academy, was ranked No. 36 to begin the year when she won the WTA Hobart title, and took that momentum into Melbourne. The 22-year-old failed to close out the first set serving at 5-2, but got the job done serving at 5-4. She then baked a bagel in the second set, ending Svitolina’s chances for not only a first Grand Slam title but the No. 1 ranking.
It is Mertens’ first time past the third round at Slam, and Svitolina drops to 0-3 in Grand Slam quarterfinals.
Svitolina in her post-match conference said a hip injury did not help her cause.
“I was not ready to produce a good level of tennis,” Svitolina said. “She is a great player, she has a good level, so, you know, I couldn’t match it, because physically it was very tough for me.”
Mertens said her semifinal will be nothing but upside.
“I’ve got nothing to lose, that’s for sure,” she said. “I have no points to defend. I guess I’m a bit, well, the underdog, as today. But I’m ready for it. I mean, I have a lot of energy left. Mentally, physically good. I’m just going to give it all and see where it ends.”
In the semis she will meet No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki, who was able to wear down Carla Suarez Navarro in a comeback bid 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-2 in a match ending well after midnight in Melbourne.
Wozniacki beat Mertens in their only career meeting last year at Bastad on clay in three sets.
Quarterfinal matches on Wednesday in Melbourne will feature (17) Madison Keys vs. (21) Angie Kerber, and (1) Simona Halep vs. (6) Karolina Pliskova.
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