Elina Svitolina has continued her incredible return to tennis following the birth of her daughter last year, winning through to the third round of the US Open. However she was a little distracted during her clash with Russian opponent Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Friday (AEST).
Svitolina's husband Gael Monfils was also in action against Andrey Rublev, with his match starting after Svitolina's. Courtside cameras picked up the funny moment Svitolina asked the chair umpire if they knew if Monfils' match had started yet.
Discussing the moment on court after her 5-7 6-4 6-4 win, the interviewer told Svitolina she got "wife bonus points" for thinking about her husband. Svitolina said: “I was just trying to get a little motivation from him. I know he’s playing out there.
"I was just trying to change my head a little bit because I was not playing my best. I wanted to bring some different energy and I was just thinking about him a little bit."
Elina Svitolina explains the moment she asked the umpire during her match if Gael Monfils' match started:
“I was just trying to get a little motivation from him. I know he’s playing out there.. I was just thinking about him a little bit” 😂
Favorite tennis love story. 🥰 pic.twitter.com/sprlaSBPct
The change in mindset certainly did the trick. The 26th seed came back from dropping the first set to prevail in three. Svitolina improved to 11-2 at grand slams this season after the 28-year-old made the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the French Open quarters.
Unfortunately there was no joy for Monfils on Grandstand, with the Frenchman going down 4-6 3-6 6-3 1-6. Nevertheless, Svitolina's cute moment won over tennis fans on social media.
— Trebol picks ☘️ (@Picksdeltrebol) August 31, 2023
— Josh Baranski (@josh_baranski) August 31, 2023
Awww...I love Monfils 🥰as much as she does
— Frissy (@Frissy8) August 31, 2023
Aryna Sabalenka continues fine form at US Open
Earlier on Friday, Aryna Sabalenka powered into the third round with a commanding 6-3 6-2 win over Britain's Jodie Burrage. The Belarusian has her sights firmly set on a second grand slam title and the World No.1 ranking.
The Australian Open champion converted three of her four break-point opportunities and saved the two she faced during the 74-minute match in Louis Armstrong Stadium. It was a much more confident display from Sabalenka compared to her error-prone opener at Flushing Meadows, during which she was forced to overcome early struggles on serve.
Sabalenka can claim the World No.1 ranking for the first time if she fares better than Iga Swiatek in New York. She was more focused on serve on Friday as she overwhelmed World No.96 Burrage.
"I'm super happy with the level today, and super happy to get this win," Sabalenka told reporters. "Yeah, I think I played really solid today and didn't lose my focus not for a moment.
"I came on court with mentality just to put her speed with her, her game back on her, and let her play with that. And, of course, the main focus was on my serve, so to be really solid on my serve, so, like, I can put some pressure on her serve."
Sabalenka will face Clara Burel in the third round after the Frenchwoman beat Czech 25th seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4 6-2. In other early results, Maddison Keys beat Yanina Wickmayer 6-1 6-2, Ekaterina Alexandrova beat Lauren Tsurenko 6-1 6-3, while ninth seed Marketa Vondrousova defeated Martina Trevisan 6-2 6-2.
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