NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fifth seed Elina Svitolina knocked Venus Williams out of the U.S. Open on Wednesday to reach the third round despite an heroic defensive effort from the 39-year-old former champion.
Trailing 5-3 in the second set, seven-times Grand Slam champion Williams saved five match points to hold serve in a dramatic 22-point game.
The 24-year-old Ukrainian, who has reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the past two years, struggled to convert break points throughout the match, winning just four out of 17.
Svitolina, who beat Williams in the first round at Roland Garros this year, called the American an “inspiration”.
“I had to stay very focused,” said the 24-year-old Ukrainian. “She’s a very experienced player so she knows how to handle (these) moments.
“You have to earn almost every point. You have to step up your game. If you give her short ball she always takes it on. So you have to be aware.”
Williams said that while she was sad to leave the tournament so early, there were a lot of positives to take from the match.
“I served well and I played well. She played well. There’s a lot for me to build on from there,” Williams told a news conference.