Tennis: Svitolina steps up US Open preparation by reaching Chicago final

Elina Svitolina fired 29 winners, including seven aces, on the way to a much needed victory. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Olympic bronze medallist Elina Svitolina continued her US Open build-up with a three-set win over Rebecca Peterson to reach her first WTA final of 2021 at the hard-court event in Chicago on Friday (Aug 27).

The top-seeded Ukrainian, who hadn't reached a final since her title run in Strasbourg last September, defeated Sweden's Peterson 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 to line up a meeting with ninth-seeded Alize Cornet of France.

Cornet defeated Russian Varvara Gracheva 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 to reach Saturday's final in one of two WTA events serving as final tune-ups for the US Open that starts on Monday in New York.

Svitolina fired 29 winners, including seven aces, on the way to a much needed victory.

Since earning bronze at the Tokyo Games, Svitolina had lost her opening matches in both Montreal and Cincinnati.

In Cleveland, second-seeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit beat seventh-seeded Spaniard Sara Sorribes 6-4, 6-4 to book a title clash with Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 winner over sixth-seeded Magda Linette of Poland.

In North Carolina, Mikael Ymer won seven straight games to stun rising Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, at the Winston-Salem Open on Friday to become the first Swedish ATP Tour finalist since 2011.

Ymer stormed back from a 3-5 deficit to take the first set then won the first three games of the second set to reach the first final of his career.

"I was nervous," said Ymer. "I knew he would come out very strong. Luckily I got a chance to break him in the first set."

In Saturday's final, the 22-year-old Ymer will face Ilya Ivashka, who is also in his first final and seeking to become the first Belarusian champion since 2003.

Ivashka hammered Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori 6-2, 6-1 in the other semi-final on Friday.

Ymer, whose parents are from Ethiopia, played flawless tennis from the baseline, clinching it on the first of two match points when the 18-year-old Alcaraz sailed his backhand long.

He lost only one point in the final game due to a double fault, his third of the match on the hardcourts at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Robin Soderling was the last Swede to reach a final, winning the Bastad tournament in Sweden in 2011.

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