Elina Svitolina’s spectacular slide in her French Open quarter-final against Simona Halep must be a candidate for meltdown of the year, yet the Ukrainian felt it was not unexpected.
Svitolina was serving for the match at 5-1 in the second set but choked and lost 12 of the 13 remaining games as Halep reached the semis for the second time since 2014, the year she finished runner-up, with a 3-6 7-6(6) 6-0 win.
Asked for an explanation, Svitolina, one of the pre-tournament favourites after winning two titles on clay this year, said: “I think she started to play much better. Of course, I let her a little bit back into the game, but she knows how to come back in the matches, and she always fights for every ball.
“So I was expecting this. It was quite normal.”
Suddenly getting all her claycourt tricks out of her bag, Romanian Halep stopped making unforced errors as fifth seed Svitolina completely lost her grip on the match.
“A little bit of nerves, of course, played the trick. But, yeah, it was quite expected and such a — yeah, such a big event. It can happen,” said the Paris-based Svitolina, who at 22 was playing in her second French Open quarter-final.
Third seed Halep next faces Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova in a semi-final that Svitolina, who had a match point during the tiebreak, could have felt was hers.
Asked how she managed not to let the frustration take over, she said smiling: “You want me to cry, no?”.