Svitolina heads to Paris after winning in Strasbourg

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) –


World number five Elina Svitolina will head to Roland Garros buoyed by success after coming through a tough three-set final against Elena Rybakina in Strasbourg on Saturday.

Svitolina won 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 but she had to contend not only with some feisty competition from the young Kazakh, who came back strongly in the second set, but some grim conditions.

The match, which was delayed by rain, was played partly in drizzle and a temperature close to 10 degrees Celsius, something which affected both players over the course of a contest that lasted seven minutes shy of two hours.

"It was not easy, but it's the same for everyone and you have to adjust quickly," said Svitolina after claiming her 15th WTA title.

"Normally the tournaments are playing in really hot conditions. We were happy to finish today. In the end we got lucky to play."

The 26-year-old Ukrainian, who will be third seed at the French Open, took first blood as she closed out the first set in 39 minutes.

But Rybakina hit back strongly, the 21-year-old blasting Svitolina off the court, unsettling her with the power of her strokes. She raised her first-serve percentage to 70 and made only eight unforced errors in the set.

Rybakina had Svitolina at 0-40 on the Ukrainian's opening service game of the third set but could not see out the break as Svitolina saved four successive break points.

Svitolina held and then began to regain control, losing just only one further point on serve in the remainder of the match. She won the final four games of the match for the loss of only three points.

"It was important to regroup and to get back into the match. It was really positive stuff for me," she said.

Svitolina, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2015 and 2017, opens her campaign in Paris against the Russian Varvara Gracheva, ranked 94 in the world.

Rybakina, who is seeded 14 at the French Open, meets the experienced Romanian Sorana Cirstea who reached the last eight in 2009.