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Svitolina set for Open date with teen star

Ukrainian title favourite Elina Svitolina celebrated like she’d won the Australian Open after surviving a stern test against rising Czech Katerina Siniakova to reach the third round.

Fourth-seeded Svitolina exploded with a animated double fist pump after battling back from a set down to progress with a 4-6 6-2 6-1 triumph on Wednesday.

Siniakova, a former Australian Open junior finalist who toppled Maria Sharapova en route to the final of the season opener in Shenzhen, needed treatment for a leg complaint midway through the second set.

It was the setback Svitolina needed, with the Czech winning just one more game after the medical time-out.

Svitolina conceded it was tough going in her first appearance of the tournament on Rod Laver Arena.

“I thought I’m going to melt today. It was not easy and I was struggling a bit,” she said after the two-and-a-quarter hours work-out.

“Hopefully I can recover. I can’t wait for an ice bath.”

Svitolina knows the heat is on in more ways than one after her tour-topping five WTA titles in 2017 and unbeaten start to 2018.

“Winning Brisbane and having a good year in 2017 has been great, but it’s a grand slam and every opponent is very tough and everyone deserves to win and be there.

“Everyone is going to fight and, as we can see (with so many early upsets), there’s no easy matches here.”

The 23-year-old vowed to be more focused next match on Friday after allowing her aggressive opponent to dominate the early exchanges from the back of the court.

And she will need to be, with Svitolina to face 15-year-old prodigy Marta Kostyuk in a spicy all-Ukrainian third-round affair.

The teenage qualifier ousted Australian wildcard Olivia Rogowska 6-3 7-5 to become the youngest player since Martina Hingis at Wimbledon 22 years ago to reach a grand slam third round.

Kostyuk, also also the youngest to make the last 32 at Melbourne Park since Hingis in 1997, won last year’s Australian Open junior crown.

“The first time I heard about her when she won here. It’s good, it’s pretty

cool that I’m playing someone from my country,” Svitolina said.

“It’s going to be very exciting for me and hopefully I can be ready for that

match. It’s not every day that I can play someone who’s from my country.

“She has nothing to lose, so that’s why I know she goes just for everything.”

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