Rome: Elina Svitolina ousts No. 23 seed to set up blockbuster versus Aryna Sabalenka

Svitolina set to play against Sabalenka in the Rome round-of-16.

by Dzevad Mesic
Rome: Elina Svitolina ousts No. 23 seed to set up blockbuster versus Aryna Sabalenka
© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Former world No. 3 Elina Svitolina is set for a Rome round-of-16 blockbuster versus Aryna Sabalenka after handling the business against 23th-seeded Anna Kalinskaya. 

On Sunday evening, No. 16 seed Svitolina ousted Kalinskaya 6-3 6-3, who was a quarterfinalist at this year's Australian Open and also played a final at a WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai.

Going into the match, Kalinskaya definitely wasn't expected to be an easy opponent for Svitolina but the Ukrainian routinely got the job done in just an hour and 13 minutes of play. 

Now in the Rome round-of-16, Svitolina will meet No. 2 seed Sabalenka in a rematch of last year's French Open quarterfinal. Heading into the match, Sabalenka - who beat Svitolina 6-4 6-4 at the French Open last year - owns a 2-1 head-to-head versus the Ukrainian.

Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka
Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

While recent Madrid Open runner-up Sabalenka will enter the match as the favorite, Svitolina has started Rome playing great and with back-to-back straight-set wins.

How Svitolina beat Kalinskaya to set up a Sabalenka match?

Right from the start, Svitolina looked great as the former world No. 3 claimed an early break for a 3-0 lead. Up by a break, Svitolina never allowed Kalinskaya to even come close to breaking her as the Ukrainian routinely served out for the opener in the ninth game.

Just like the first set started, the second set also started with Svitolina earning an early break and a 2-0 lead.

Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Down by a set and a break, Kalinskaya finally earned her first break points of the match in the fourth game of the second set and she realized her third consecutive break point to tie the set to two games apiece.

However, blowing an early second-set break didn't impact Svitolina, who broke Kalinskaya in the fifth game to go again go up by a set and a break.

With Kalinskaya serving to stay in the match in the ninth game, Svitolina collected her third break of the set to complete her two-set win.

It will be interesting to see if Svitolina can beat Sabalenka in her next match and reach the quarterfinal at Foro Italico.

Elina Svitolina Aryna Sabalenka