By Richard Pagliaro
Facing Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia and the French crowd, Elina Svitolina showed the power of one.
Svitolina broke serve six times muting French fans and cruising into her third Roland Garros quarterfinal with a 6-1, 6-3 dismissal of Garcia.
Playing clean combinations, a precise Svitolina committed just 14 unforced errors—20 fewer than 2016 French Open doubles champion Garcia. Svitolina will be a heavy favorite when she faces Argentinean qualifier Nadia Podoroska for a trip to her first French Open final four in her eighth appearance in Paris.
The convincing victory came a few hours after 19-year-old Iga Swiatek shocked top-seeded Simona Halep sending a seismic shock to the field—and ensuring we will see a first-time French Open champion.
The pressure shifts to the third-seeded Svitolina, one of the best players in the world yet to capture a major championship, and the highest seed still standing after the exits of Halep and second-seeded Karolina Pliskova.
Svitolina said she doesn’t stand alone.
The world No. 5 said she’s playing for two: herself and boyfriend Gael Monfils, who was bounced in the opening round by Alexander Bublik.
“To be fair, right now I’m thinking I’m playing for both of us,” Svitolina said. “I know how much he loves to compete here in Paris and how much he loves to play in front of big crowds.
“Unfortunately this year it’s a bit different. So it’s really sad that he couldn’t play his best. He started year amazing and I was really proud of the effort he did.”
Former French Open semifinalist Monfils wasn’t in attendance at Court Philippe Chatrier today, but Svitolina says the couple are mutual motivational forces even when they’re apart.
“Unfortunately he’s not here. He’s training right now,” Svitolina said. “And I’m very happy that he’s back and he’s mentally going to come back and be even stronger.
“For me I just, you know, always love the way that he pushes me to be better, and I also try to motivate him to be better person, better tennis player. I think this is the way that it has to be, and you have to really support each other and push for better results.”
Photo credit: @RolandGarros