Auckland: On edge of win, Emma Raducanu loses to Elina Svitolina after shock collapse

Raducanu was just four points away from beating Svitolina when she started making unforced errors and mistakes.

by Dzevad Mesic
Auckland: On edge of win, Emma Raducanu loses to Elina Svitolina after shock collapse
© Getty Images Sport - Hannah Peters

Emma Raducanu suffered a three-set Auckland defeat to Elina Svitolina following a stunning collapse, while defending champion Coco Gauff claimed a very dominant win to safely reach the quarterfinal.

Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, was just four points away from victory when No. 2 seed Svitolina stormed back to win 6-7(5) 7-6 (3) 6-1 and reach the Auckland quarterfinal. Up by a set, Raducanu also started strongly the second-set tie-break and had a 3-1 lead. 

Four points away from victory, Raducanu started making inexplicable unforced errors and mistakes as Svitolina won the next six points to overturn the deficit and send the match into a decider. After losing the second set in a devastating way, Raducanu wasn't able to mentally recover as Svitolina cruised past the third set to complete her comeback win. 

Meanwhile, top-seeded Gauff dismantled rising Czech star Brenda Fruhvirtova 6-3 6-0. Gauff, who won her first Auckland title last year without a dropped set, has now won two straight-set matches at this year's Auckland edition and she is three wins away from defending her title in New Zealand.

How Svitolina came back to beat Raducanu?

Although Svitolina was considered the slight favorite going into their match, Raducanu came out absolutely firing as she claimed back-to-back breaks in the third and fifth games to open an early 5-1 lead. At 5-1 in the first set, Raducanu had 0-15 on Svitolina's serve but the Ukrainian made a miraculous save at the net to make it 15-15. From that moment, Svitolina went on to win that game and break Raducanu in the seventh and ninth games and eventually tie the first set to five games apiece.

Luckily for Raducanu, she was able to serve out the 11th game and end Svitolina's run of four games. The first set eventually went into a tie-break, where Raducanu won three consecutive points for a 5-2 lead. Leading 6-4, Raducanu didn't convert her first set point but she converted her second set point at 6-5 to win the opener.

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu© Getty Images Sport - Hannah Peters

The second set started with three consecutive breaks and Svitolina leading 2-1. In the sixth game, Raducanu managed to get the break back for the second time and tie the set to three games apiece. After breaking back Svitolina, Raducanu also had a chance to break the Ukrainian in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead - but she didn't convert it instead Svitolina tied it to 4-4 before the second set also went to a tie-break.

In the second-set tie-break, Raducanu made a great start, taking an early 3-1 lead. As already mentioned, Svitolina then went on to win the next six points after Raducanu committed a couple of unforced errors and mistakes. 

After avoiding a straight-set loss, Svitolina had all the momentum on her side as she started the third set with a 5-0 lead before serving out for the match in the seventh game.

Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina© Getty Images Sport - Hannah Peters

Gauff made a light work of Fruhvirtova

Gauff, ranked at No. 3 in the world, actually got off to a bit of a slow start as Fruhvirtova broke the American to love in the third game for an early 2-1 lead. Serving to confirm the break, Fruhvirtova missed out on three break points in the fourth game before Gauff realized her second break point to tie the set to two games apiece. 

After blowing an early break, Fruhvirtova had a chance to go up by a break again in the fifth game but she missed out on two consecutive break points as Gauff managed to take a 3-2 lead. Fruhvirtova paid the price for not realizing her break point chances as Gauff broke the Czech in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. In the sixth game - the game in which Gauff was serving for the first set - the American saved another break point before realizing her first set point to clinch the opener.

Up by a set, Gauff saved two consecutive game points in the opening game to break Fruhvirtova at the start of the second set. For Fruhvirtova, that was it as Gauff also won the next five games to complete a two-set win in a very impressive way. 

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Hannah Peters

Svitolina plays next against Marie Bouzkova

Svitolina's next opponent will be world No. 36 Bouzkova, who dismantled Amanda Anisimova 6-0 6-1. 

Bouzkova made a fast start against Anisimova, breaking the American in the second game for an early 2-0 lead. Down by an early break, Anisimova had a chance to get the break back in the third game but she missed out on two consecutive break points. After saving two consecutive break points, Bouzkova broke Anisimova again in the fourth game before serving out the next game for a 5-0 lead. In the sixth game - the game in which Anisimova was serving to stay in the first set - Bouzkova claimed her third break to close out the opener.

After bageling Anisimova in the first set, Bouzkova also opened a 3-0 second-set lead. In the fourth game, Anisimova finally managed to win her first game of the match and end Bouzkova's run of nine consecutive games to start the match. However, it didn't change much as Bouzkova broke Anisimova for the fifth time in the sixth game before serving out for the match in the following game.

The upcoming meeting between Svitolina and Bouzkova will be their fourth. Heading into their Auckland match, Svitolina leads their head-to-head 2-1.

Gauff to play Varvara Gracheva for an Auckland semifinal spot

Next up for Gauff in Auckland will be No. 8 seed Gracheva, who defeated Lulu Sun 6-3 6-4.

Against Sun, Gracheva missed out on the first break point of the match in the second game. However, Gracheva was able to keep her focus as she got the first break of the match two games later for a 3-1 lead. Up by a break, Gracheva routinely held on to her serve for the remainder of the first set - without allowing any break points - to seal the opener.

After winning the first set, Gracheva kept pressing Sun's serve but the Swiss tennis player was resisting and refusing to go down by a break. In each of the second, fourth, and sixth games of the second set, Sun saved two break points. In the ninth game, Gracheva earned her ninth and 10th break points of the set - she realized her 10th break point to go 5-4 up. Serving for the match in the 10th game, Gracheva converted her second match point to complete a two-set win.

When Gracheva, 23, and 19-year-old Gauff meet in Auckland, it will be their first meeting. Going into the match, Gauff is absolutely the favorite. 

Emma Raducanu Elina Svitolina